Saturday, November 22, 2008

Day 45/365 - Pictures at an Exhibition

This afternoon I went over to Georgetown to check out the exhibits at the main FotoWeek DC gallery. There were some really amazing photos there. I saw some stuff that gave me some ideas I wanted to try. They had one cool exhibit that featured massive enlargements of photographer's contact sheets. That exhibit mentioned how, with the advent of digital photography, contact sheets are a bit of an endangered species. I still have some of my old contact sheets from my high school and college photography classes. I had been thinking about pitching them, but now I think maybe I'll hang onto them.

I was walking around the gallery today taking loads of photos of people looking at photos. At one point I think I got 'mistooken' for a working photographer. I was leaning over a railing taking shots of the lower gallery area and some girls that were coming up the stairs heard my camera going 'tchkuh, tchkuh, tchkuh' and got all excited because they thought they were going to end up in some artsy photographer's photo. One of them told the others to play it cool and just keep walking so it wouldn't mess up the picture.

Little did they know they were just going to wind up on my Flickr page rather than in a gallery. It's a sort of sad substitute for fame, but it beats nothing I suppose.

(With apologies to Mussorgsky's ghost for the theft of the title.)

(Taken with my Nikon D80)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Day 44/365 - The Temple of Ra

I could list a dozen things that are wrong with this shot, but none of that seems to matter because I love it anyway. I guess that's the nature of love, though -- it's irrational, impractical, exasperating, irrepressible, intoxicating, exhilarating, and a thousand other adjectives both converse and complementary. It's destined to make you whole and destined to break you apart. It's everything we want and everything we dread and... and it's love. In the end I guess that describes it better than anything -- love is love.

Apologies for the somewhat morose note to today's entry. That's what a bottle of wine on a cold Friday night will do to you, and I don't even like wine. Champagne yes, wine no. I took this shot while riding the escalator up from the Metro station next to my office this morning. I love (there's that word again) coming up out of this station. You start out in the dark deep underground and then you see the broad beams of morning sunlight streaming through those square openings high on the wall and then they strike your face and you feel their warmth on your cheeks and it's like a baptism and a rebirth all in one. And it's even better when the guy with the saxophone is playing at the top of the escalator.

The way the morning light pierces the openings in the wall always makes me think of ancient Egyptian temples and the way many of them were designed so that they would be swathed in shadows until at a certain time of day the sun would be at the perfect angle to shoot a ray of light into their darkened hearts that would then strike the innermost shrine, the holy of holies, and bathe it in a golden glow.

That in turn makes me think of the ancient Egyptian solar myth, wherein the sun god Ra descends into the underworld each night to travel on his barge through the caverns of darkness where he wages his eternal war with the evil serpent Apep before re-emerging above ground at dawn, and that then makes me think of my daily commute on the subway train that resembles both a barge and a serpent and that carries me through darkened tunnels before the escalator brings me back up to the surface and the benediction that is the light of day.

It's cold here today. I need to go back to Egypt. It's 80 degrees and sunny there.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Day 43/365 - Big Coat Weather

I had to dig my overcoat out of the closet earlier this week and it doesn't look like I'll be putting it back any time soon. It hasn't been earmuff cold yet, but it's definitely been scarf and gloves cold in the mornings. Yesterday the temperature didn't poke its nose north of 40 degrees the whole day and tomorrow we're supposed to have flurries. Hopefully they'll last longer than the five minutes of flurries we had earlier in the week. If it's going to be cold, it might as well snow and be pretty as well.

It never actually gets that cold in this area. In the ten years I've been living here I think the temperature might have dropped into the single digits maybe 3 times and I don't think it has fallen below zero once. Usually the 20s are about as low as it gets here in wintertime. It gets much colder in Missouri where I grew up. Negative temperatures are fairly common there. Not to be gross, but sometimes it would be so cold that when I was waiting outside at the bus stop in the morning the snot in my nose would freeze up. If you've lived somewhere that gets really cold in winter, you know what I'm talking about.

Missouri regularly gets fairly heavy snowfall as well, unlike DC/NoVA. Not Buffalo or Green Bay heavy where the snow is measured in yards rather than inches, but it wasn't uncommon for us to get 10-12 inches of snow in a day when I was a kid. If DC gets half that then it's treated like a natural catastrophe of biblical proportions. Not that I'm complaining, mind you, because it means the Federal government shuts down and I get a free day off. Hopefully having a Chicago guy in the White House won't make it harder for the government to get snow days.

I need my free days off in wintertime. There are books to be read, old movies to be watched, and grilled cheese sammiches and tomato soup to be eaten.

(Taken with my Nikon D80)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Day 42/365 - Yin & Yang

Took this shot today as I walked over to the 'pay by the pound' cafeteria in the NASA building to pick up some lunch. I've been too busy/lazy to go to the store and get fixin's for lunch this week, so I've been buying my lunch -- which means I'm spending too much money and eating random combinations of stuff that's not particularly good for me. Today it was greasy fried fish (okay), half a turkey chimichanga (really good), wild rice with peas and some dark sort of sauce/seasoning (bleccchh), and bananas foster (delish). Grand total -- ten bones. 'Pay by the pound' tends to be a rip-off. And I didn't get around to going to the store tonight either, so I'm stuck buying lunch again tomorrow.

I like the light and shadow in this shot and the way they diagonally bisect the frame. It reminds me of the Yin and Yang symbol. Plus it's a train trestle and I love pretty much anything having to do with trains. That and 'trestle' is just a fun word to say: T R E S T L E... Not quite as cool as 'susurration' or 'frappé', but still pretty cool.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Day 41/365 - Pub Crawl

Tonight I went on a pub crawl to some bars and restaurants in the Columbia Heights and U Street areas of DC that are hosting the Pix Tour showcasing the work of local photographers as part of a big photography expo known as Foto Week. Some of the Pix Tour featured artists, like Angela and Marie, came along on the pub crawl.

We started out at RedRocks Pizzeria, site of Marie's show, to see her photos and load up on pizza to absorb the alcohol we were preparing to consume in the name of art. This shot is of the backbar at the second stop of the evening, the Wonderland Ballroom. From there, we wandered on to the Velvet Lounge (scene of Angela's show), Nellie's Sports Bar, and DC9.

The only one of these venues I'd been to previously was DC9, so this was a good chance for me to check out some new watering holes -- not to mention getting to see some really good photos and hang out with some cool fellow camera dorks. The photo exhibits on the Pix Tour are definitely worth seeing, so brace up your liver and go make your own pub crawl to check them out.

(Taken with my Nikon D80)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Day 40/365 - Word Games

Just got finished laying the Scrabble smackdown on my computer yet again. Okay, so I only beat the machine by 55 points this time. I've still beaten it nearly twice as many times as its beaten me (274 to 138, with one tie). And then there's the version of Scrabble I've got on my iPod. The computer still hasn't beaten me on that one. I could kick the difficulty level up a notch, but then the computer starts playing utterly ridiculous words no one but lexicographers have ever heard of before, and that takes the fun out of it.

My best score to date is 591 points. I managed to lay down three different seven-letter words in that game, two of them on back-to-back turns. I've never even come close to playing that well against another person, though. I think I've pretty much always loved playing word games. When I was in second grade and the weather was too crappy to go out for recess, we'd play Boggle for money (penny a point). I usually won. Good thing the teacher never realized what we were up to. Having to explain to the principal why I was Boggle-sharking my classmates wouldn't have been much fun.

My brother and sister-in-law got me into playing Scrabble. Whenever I go to visit them we always play. I even bought a travel Scrabble set to take with me when I went on a cruise with them a few years ago. I took it along when we went to Vegas earlier this year, too. I can usually wallop my brother, but sister-in-law clobbers me more often than not. She may have had to drop of high school to get a job, but her lack of a diploma doesn't stop her from cleaning my clock on a regular basis.

There's another game I like to play with words when I'm on the subway. I pick a word off one of the advertising posters or signs on the train and try to make as many new words out of its letters as I can. Helps to pass the time and keep my brain from gathering dust.

I also love doing the crossword puzzle in the newspaper and I can usually solve it, although once or twice a week there will be a square or two I can't get filled in. No sudoku for me, though. Numbers are something I don't enjoy, even when there's no actual math involved. I'll just stick to letters, thank you very much.

(Taken with my Nikon D80)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Twice on Sunday Bonus Photo - Atlantic Sunrise

This week's bonus photo from my archives is a shot I took of the sun rising over the Atlantic Ocean from the beach in Hollywood, Florida. I was down there for the wedding of my friends Chris and Desiree. It had been a while since I'd seen sunrise over the ocean, so I got up crazy early one morning and went down and sat on the beach while I listened to Bebel Gilberto's 'Tanto Tempo' cd on my iPod (it's the perfect soundtrack for sunrise on the beach, btw) and waited for the sun to come up.

It was gorgeous and well worth waking up early to see.

(Taken with my old Canon Powershot S400)

Day 39/365 - Phoebe

This is Phoebe, my pet philodendron. She's named after the character on 'Friends.' I have another one in my office that is named Daphne, after the character on 'Frasier." Philodendrons seem to be the only type of plant my brown thumb and I don't manage to kill off. I've tried my luck with a fern, cactus, bamboo plant, and ivy and none of them lasted very long in my less than stellar care. I even managed to murder my friend Desiree's plant that she had me look after while she was on vacation for a week.

I've had Phoebe for 14 years now. When I first got her she was just four little leaves in the middle of a big pot of dirt. And that's how she stayed for the first year. She didn't start growing until I hauled her off to law school with me and then she really took off. Now she has lots of leaves and long vines that are wrapped all around the legs of the barstool her pot sits on.

So unless you want your plant to die, or unless it's a philodendron, don't let me anywhere near it.

(Taken with my Nikon D80)