Our Nation’s Capitol was bathed in pink last weekend for the start of the Cherry Blossom Festival. The weather was ok – nice on Thursday but cold and rainy on Friday and just plain cold on Saturday. I was not appropriately attired. On the plus side – I still managed to take over 300 photos! I culled the collection down to the 76 that were facebook worthy (I usually like to limit it to about 30, but the flowers were so pretty!) and the few that shall appear here. Most of my photos last weekend were tourist shots – some featuring my various family members who were also there, and some just recording the awesomeness that is the Capitol Building and the Botanical Gardens. I love federalist architecture, and that was in abundance, but I will try to stick to photos with something resembling artistic merit here, and not just put up all of the columns I shot.
This shot was taken in the Old Supreme Court. It had been the Old Old Senate Chamber, but the Senate had outgrown it and had to move. These desks were facing a row of high backed chairs where the Court had sat. Unfortunately, the lighting in here was very low, so I couldn’t get a good shot of them without a tripod.
The Old Supreme Court
This brings me to the difference between “tourist” photos and “artistic” photos. I am not going to be so vain as to say all of my photos are art – very few of them are. But this is my blog, so I can show you only the photos I want to. I like this photo because it doesn’t have to be the Old Supreme Court. I really enjoy decontextualizing objects and places with photos. With painting you can place anything you want anywhere you want, but photos are considered to be “real” – actual recording of what was where. This is less true in the digital age, but the phrase of a picture being worth a thousand words still holds. I could show you the picture of the room above and it could be anywhere. The lamps remind me of an old library and the green tables give it an air of elegance. The desk lamp in the lower right corner is nicely (if not totally symmetrically) balanced by the wall lamp on the left. Each lamp in the middle emits a pool of light, illuminating just enough of the area around it to create an intimate feeling in what would otherwise be a vast, somewhat empty space. While by definition this photo is a record of my visit to Washington, DC, taken out of context, I think it still stands as a story unto itself.
Now what we have all been waiting for – the pink!
Magnolias on Pennsylvania Ave
The magnolias were out in full force last weekend – I was glad because once their dropped petals get crushed, the smell is awful. We had nothing to worry about, though. The petals were all on the trees and magnificent in several different shades of pink. It was a refreshing change from California – we always have flowers here, but they are all different colors and so bright. The paler pinks were a nice change of pace. This is more of a tourist shot than the one above – I took it to capture a moment. The canopy of petals seemed to glow and I loved the lines of the trunks and branches. It looks better larger rather than the small version I posed here.
Cherry Blossoms, Eastern Market
The requisite close up. I will have photos of my trip to the national botanical garden up soon – there are lots of close-ups there, but these flowers are just so dainty. The blue sky, which finally reappeared on Saturday, is a nice background. I set up this shot so that I could have several diagonal lines running through – the bunch of flowers and the branch both running at a shallow diagonal and the two branches running more steeply up, all framing the flowers in focus in the middle.
Cherry Blossoms and the Washington Monument
I will also at some point do a post on photographing monuments. Monuments in general are an interesting concept – so many of them are something beautiful to remind people of something ugly. This particular monument is inoffensive in content (Washington was a pretty popular guy), but I know some who would argue with the execution (the phallic tower is, well, phallic). Until I get to a full posing on it, though, the Washington Monument through the Cherry Blossoms will have to do. The focus here is really on the flowers and not on the monument, though. As I alluded to above, the branches of cherry trees make for dark, interesting shapes, in contrast to the dainty flowers they hold, in a composition. Here, the monument is just part of the background – a blip on the landscape of the tidal basin, the trees, and the sky. The flowers and branches are darker, in focus, and in front.
Cheery Blossoms and my mom
This is my mom. I liked the way the shadows played on the brick and cobblestone ground. I did a series of shadows on bricks a few years ago, but nothing really came together the way I wanted. This is much closed to what I was aiming for them. The overall composition is a little more cluttered than my usual shots, but I liked the urban feel here with the bicycles and people walking in the background. To make this less of a vacation shot and more of an artistic shot, my mother should probably not have been smiling at the camera, but looking past the camera or off to the side. On the other hand, she could have just seen someone she was waiting for and turned to smile at them.
That is all for now, but I have a ton of flower shots from the Botanical Garden, as well as some landscapes, monument shots, and more of the Capitol Building. It was great to have three whole days of shooting before going back to the grind. Hopefully this term will be less chaotic and I’ll be able to take more photos.