Category Archives: D.C.

1524 Shootout

The 1524 Shootout competition is an annual competition that announces a theme and gives photographers 24 hours to submit a set of 5 photos on that theme.

I entered the competition for the first time this year.  The theme was “Movement.”  Here are the photos I entered:

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As you can see, these are all photos of the D.C. Metro.  The theme was announced on Monday at 5pm, and the photos were due on Tuesday at 5pm.  I ended up only having time to photograph on Tuesday afternoon, and the only place that I could think of that would have motion (and be dark enough to leave my shutter open to capture the motion) was the Metro.  So these shots were taken over the course of an hour at the Chinatown and L’Enfant Plaza stations, where I sat on a bench and put the camera under my feet and shot fairly unobtrusively.

I wasn’t at all happy with the photos, for several reasons:

  1. I wished I’d thought up, and planned for, a more creative interpretation of the Movement theme other than using the subway.
  2.  These photos aren’t nearly as good as some of the Metro photos I’ve taken in the past – it’s a matter of luck and timing to get interesting things and people happening, and in a hour I had to struggle to get enough different shots to select a set of 5.
  3. I usually like to post-process my photos to enhance them, but this competition allowed only minimal post-processing (exposure and color correction but not much else).

So I came very close to deciding that I didn’t like the photos and therefore shouldn’t submit them, but then with 2 minutes short of the deadline, I decided to submit under the theory that following through on things is good for me.  When I looked at them the next morning, I liked them a bit more, especially given the time constraints.

The competition was sponsored by Adorama and Visual Media One, and scheduled to coincide with Photo Plus Expo in New York, and the judging panel session was open to anyone to see live in New York, plus was live streamed.  I watched the live stream with no expectations other than to see how the judges thought.  But I became totally hooked as my photos unexpectedly made it through the first round of cuts, then the second round, then the third round.  Finally, my set was cut when there were only 5 sets left.

There was a second judging on the photos as individual photos rather than as a set.  The individual photo of my set that the judges liked was the last one.  Again I was surprised that it made it as far as #4 before it got cut.

So why was I so discouraged about my photos, and then pretty elated to hear the judges praise them (“great composition”, “really artistic”, but then when cut “not enough movement”)?  Well, I was realistic to think they weren’t great photos – the gap between them and the amazing photos that won was very large in my opinion.  But I got quite far, I think, based on a combination of reasonably good photos and good judgment about how to comply with the theme and how to compose a set of photos.  I credit that partly to my watching of Project Runway – while fashion is different from photography, the judges on Project Runway keep commenting on what makes a good “collection” and I’ve absorbed some of that knowledge and put it to use in composing the set and deciding how to order the photos in the set.  And the main lesson I’ve learned is to not give up – it ended up being really exciting to enter and watch the judging, even though I knew from the beginning that I didn’t have any chance of winning.


Capturing a concert

I’ve never photographed a concert before, but at Art All Night this weekend, I got a chance to see the bands playing at the Wonder Bread factory.  It was extremely crowded and the only place I found to stand was off to the rear of the stage, but that turned out to be an interesting location, watching the musicians and dancers as they were bathed in blue and green lights.

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Shadow play

Making shadows reached new heights this weekend at an Art All Night installation by Jim Webb.  Blue, red, and yellow lights were projected from the back of an empty lot on to a five-story building in Shaw, allowing anyone to dance or pose in front of them, or use props or cardboard cutouts.

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Pope Francis visits D.C.

The Pope’s visit to D.C. was a wildly popular event. I didn’t actually get to see the Pope up close, but was nearby and enjoyed the positivity of the crowds.  At the Papal mass at the National Shrine, there was an outside overflow viewing area with a Jumbotron watched by a crowd of people of all ages:


A man was painting an image of the Pope nearby:


Street vendors were everywhere, selling Pope  merchandise:

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Security was tight but worked well everywhere.  Here is a helicopter over MLK Library, one of several flying low right before the Pope was driven to St. Patrick’s near the library.


One of my favorite views in D.C. are the flags along Pennsylvania Avenue. When there is not a foreign dignitary visiting, there are two flags – the American flag and the D.C. flag. For any foreign visit, that country’s flag is added to the other two.

At The Beach

The Beach is an installation in the Great Hall of the National Building Museum, where a large pit has been constructed and filled with 750,000 plastic balls. The Beach is designed by Snarkitecture, specifically for the Building Museum.

Dupont Underground


The old streetcar station under Dupont Circle has been closed to the public since 1962, except for six months in 1995 when a small part of the station was converted into a food court.  It is now in the beginning stages of re-opening under the non-profit Dupont Underground, as a multi-purpose arts and special usage space.

The D.C. streetcar system started in 1890, but the Dupont underground station was not built until 1949. The goal was to relieve some of the traffic around Dupont Circle. One of the main reasons for the traffic problems at Dupont was that there already was an above-ground trolley line, but instead of it going around the circle, it had lines in both directions sharing the west side of the circle, causing congestion and confusion against the circular pattern of automobiles around the circle.

The station runs under Connecticut Avenue from N to S Street, with 75,000 square feet of space. Most of the space is raw concrete and unadorned, except for some tiled walls around the entrances. There are seven entrances to the station, scattered around Dupont Circle, each one with stairs down to the platform. The station is only 8 feet below Dupont Circle.

The underground station operated for only thirteen years until the entire trolley system was shut down in 1962. After that, the tunnels briefly served as a fall-out shelter, and then even more briefly as a food court in 1995.