October, 2012 Archives

There’s no better way to celebrate Halloween than to visit a local cemetery. This time of year, it’s nice to feel a connection to the spirits around us. Which cemeteries are the spookiest? I offer a five-cross rating below, in my tour of historic graveyards in and around Washington, DC.

Rock Creek Cemetery

DC’s oldest cemetery is Rock Creek Cemetery (above). It offers 84 acres with a park-like setting and notable residents, in a quiet part of Northwest DC (and in fact not next to Rock Creek). More peaceful than spooky, it’s the final resting place of Tim Russert, Gore Vidal, and many famous names from fading history books. Spookiness rating: ··✞✞✞ » Continue Reading…

The annual Miss Adams Morgan Pageant shows a hidden side of Washington that few people get to see. Taking place in the International Ballroom of the Washington Hilton, this might be gay Washington’s biggest social event of the year. And while the show itself is a sight to behold, half the fun is in the hotel lobby beforehand, as it fills up with the competing drag queens and their entourages. Held a week or two before Halloween, the audience also gets into the act. Many dress up in drag, or other fun costumes, sometimes as little as underwear and body glitter. And others (like myself) just throw on a tuxedo. The event is not advertised, and the only way to get tickets is from one of the reigning queens or contestants. Here are a few scenes from the chaos in the lobby.

Sierra Braxton, one of the hostesses
Sierra Braxton, one of the hostesses
» Continue Reading…

This past Columbus Day weekend the Washington Wetskins hosted their annual water polo tournament, held in DC’s Takoma Aquatic Center. As a former member, I had long been meaning to visit to photograph a game. Water polo requires endurance, strength, and skill from the players, and also poses challenges for photographers. The players sprint from end to end as each team takes possession of the ball. When swimming, the water-polo stroke tends to keep the head above water, but their faces are still obscured by a wave of water. When they stop in their positions, the offense players typically face the goal. The quick actions, and the fact that the playing field itself is in constant motion, makes auto-focus a challenge. Without a lens designed specifically for sports photography, I tried to make do by sticking to subjects close to the edge of the pool. The light was a mixture of ambient sunlight through glass-block windows and indoor lighting; I kept the white balance on auto, and tried to adjust the color balance in post-processing, though in most cases I gave up on making it look natural. I used the weekend to experiment with manual mode, trying different apertures and shutter speeds, but kept the ISO on automatic. The 9 photos below are shown with their aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and focal length.

Back Atchya
f/3.5, 1/800, 2500 ISO, 50 mm
» Continue Reading…

Water Polo Tournament in Washington

The critical mass bike ride turned 20 last week. My first exposure to it was about 10 years ago in San Francisco, the city of its birth. It was my first big bike ride, and a sight to behold. There were hundreds of cyclists, too many for me to see the group’s beginning or end. The ride started in Chinatown, on a one-lane road that we overwhelmed. Later we merged onto larger roads, where I was exposed to a mixture of angry honks and supportive honks from the cars. At times it felt risky, but overall the experience was exhilarating. There was a palpable camaraderie with the other cyclists, and even with many of the drivers who cheered us on. At times, it felt like being in a parade.

Years later, I began joining the monthly critical mass bike ride in Washington, DC. This city has a much smaller attendance, ranging from a handful in the colder months, to a couple dozen on a typical night, and the rare large outing of over 50 cyclists. There are a few regulars, and I’ve seen others who check it out once, never to return.

Gathered in Georgetown » Continue Reading…

Looking Back at the Critical Mass

It’s great to see a vast underground multi-level parking garage put to a creative new use. The Diamond Derby returned to Crystal City, landing in a garage a few blocks from their debut in March. Crystal City doesn’t have many exciting venues, so this bike race was a good fit. Biking in the D.C. region isn’t normally a spectator sport; the derby was a fun opportunity to watch folks hustling around the underground space, many in costume. The final race added a haystack obstacle, with the top-level cyclists practically flying over and smashing through. Here are some photos from the event.

Around the Ramp » Continue Reading…