Wednesday, September 16, 2009

From Ground Zero

Did I ever show you this? I don't think I did, or if I did, I can't find it on the blog. Anyhow, this is a sculpture that sat between the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. When the towers came down on 9/11, they fell on this sculpture. It was recovered from the rubble and laid in storage for some time, but is on display (or at least it was last year when I shot it on 9/11/08) in Battery Park in lower Manhattan. It's simply called The Sphere and was created by Fritz Koenig.

You might be able to tell from these pictures that The Sphere was heavily damaged in the attacks. They reportedly pulled a seat from one of the two aircraft out of the sculpture after it's recovery. And I think I read somewhere that it weighs somewhat less now than when it was initially created due to lost pieces.

Anyhow, I was just sitting here sharing some other pictures regarding 9/11 with you, so I wanted to throw these up as well.

World Trade

While I'm all worked up about the events of 9/11, here's a picture of two beams recovered from the wreckage of the World Trade Centers in New York City. These beams came from, I think, the 77th floor of the 110-story towers. They are on display at the Smithsonian's Museum of American History. This may have been the only thing I saw in DC that made me cry.

United Airlines Flight 93

I took a tour of the US Capitol Building on September 10th, and the day before I was there, they dedicated this large plaque. It's a memorial to the people who died aboard Flight 93 when they chose to overpower the terrorists and crash the plane into a field into Pennsylvania rather than allowing the plane to be flown into the Capitol Building as many now believe the terrorists intended. I don't know if I'll ever make it to that field, so I'll have to show you this instead. I've visited the other two locations where terrorists struck that day, and paid my respects to the fallen.


Since I'm unlikely to be back in Washington DC anytime real soon, I took the best of my photos from atop the Washington Monument, and enhanced them quite a bit. These are not the same pictures as the ones I showed you a second ago, but they were taken at the same time. I zoomed in on some of the more prominent monuments, adjusted the contrast, lightened things up a little bit, cropped around the worst of the raindrops, and voila! To the West is the Lincoln Memorial.

To the South, the Jefferson Memorial.

Back East, the Capitol Building. Oh, that's the Supreme Court behind the Capitol to the left, and the Library of Congress on the right, the Thomas Jefferson Building to be exact.

And to the North, The White House. I think by law I'm not allowed to show you the roof of the White House. Even Google Earth has to blur it out. Sorry about that. Can you see that the flag atop the White House is at half-staff? Remember, I took these photos on September 11, 2009, the eighth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Oh, in the foreground is the National Christmas Tree, inside the little round fence. I thought they brought in a new one every year, but not according to the little plaque on the ground.

North, South, East, West

One of my reasons for visiting Washington DC when I did was to attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon, site of one of the September 11th terrorist attacks. I got up early that morning, rode three different trains to get to the Pentagon station, only to find out the ceremony was for family members of the victims, invited guests and press. So I was turned away. Just as well, I guess, because it was raining cats and dogs. I decided to make the best of it, since I was up anyway, and headed on into town. But few things open in DC before 10 am, and this was around 8 am. I eventually made my way to the Washington Monument, where they begin giving out tour passes early. Because of the rain, I was able to get a pass for immediate access. These four pictures are the view from the four faces of the monument, albeit through a little rain. The picture above is looking West, over the Reflecting Pool towards the Lincoln Memorial, then across the Potomac to Arlington.

This is the Southerly view, across the Tidal Pool to the Jefferson Memorial. One of those bridges you see is for the Metro, DC's version of the subway. Coming from the airport, it pops up out of a hole in the ground right before crossing the bridge, and that's your first great view of DC. Then it drops back down into another hole, and you don't get anymore cool views from the subway.

West, down The Mall, towards The Capitol. Behind the Capitol, if you look close, is a football stadium. Is that RFK? On either side of the Mall are various Smithsonian museums, and behind those are government offices.

And looking North, you get the Ellipse, and a little white house called The White House. I wish I'd been able to get up to the top of the monument in good weather, but that didn't happen. Hopefully next time. I'll have to make that a priority.

DC Bugs

I admit it, I can't go anywhere without shooting the local flora and fauna. Here are a few of the bees, butterflies and a moth from DC. They're pretty much the same as the insect I see around here, but I just can't help myself.

That Pomodoro Again

Here are a couple more shots of that Pomodoro Sphere in DC. You saw a picture of this from the last trip, but this time I had the chance to go down into the garden where it's displayed, walk around it, and get some more interesting shots. I still don't know if this one moves or not, or if it's supposed to.

Like his other works, the devil is in the details. The closer you get, the more there is to see. I don't think the spiderwebs are original to the piece, however.

The Castle

One of the things I tried to photograph during my first trip to Washington DC was the Smithsonian Castle. But I failed miserably. It's built of such dark stone that the light has to be just right to get a decently lit shot of it. On this trip, I got much luckier during my last full day in DC, and I got these shots to share with you. Pretty, isn't it? You should see inside.

Teddy 2

I just showed you a portrait of Ted Kennedy in DC, and here are some pictures from his Arlington gravesite. As you can see, it's a very simple grave, without a lot of pomp and circumstance.

Compare this shot to the picture I shared with you of Robert Kennedy's gravesite. As you'll see, they in about the same place. In fact, Robert's plot is just to the right of Ted's, but I think there's some shrubs between them.

Teddy 1

In honor of the recently deceased Teddy Kennedy, the National Portrait Gallery had hung this Andy Warhol picture of the late Senator. Is there anyone that Warhol didn't paint, or at least alter? I think all he did for this one was put a few colored lines on there, and a few lines of sparkly dust. Not nearly so impressive as his work for Marilyn Monroe or Mick Jagger.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Maryland (11/50)

While I'm showing you license plates, here's one that's not really very creative. Or maybe it is, it's hard to be sure. While I was in DC, my hostess was very excited to receive her new plates in the mail, and I felt it only fitting that I somehow fit them into into the blog here. If this seems at all familiar to any of you, you've seen the plates on her car before...

Previous states: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Ohio, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin.

And not a state at all: DC

All Fifty States

I saw this artwork in the gift shop at The National Portrait Gallery in DC. I think it's by the same artist who did the Preamble in plates that I showed you last time. I thought this one was pretty good, too, and you can actually buy or commission similar ones. No, I'm wrong. The artist is Aaron Foster. Check out the little add-on pieces for Alaska & Hawaii.

More Chinese

Here's another view of that archway I showed you yesterday from the Chinatown district in Washington, DC. Or, as someone posted in the comments, in Chinablock. I guess they call the area that because it's so small compared to other Chinatown districts in cities like San Francisco and New York. But I liked this night shot and figured I'd throw it up here while I was thinking about it.

Those Hawks In Washington

As I was standing on The Ellipse, shooting pictures of The White House, something caught my eye. Sure enough, there was a red-tailed hawk circling overheard, or actually just to the right of overhead, probably over the Treasury building. He never got too close, but I was able to get this shot of him since I had a long lens on the camera just by luck. I think sometimes I have fairly decent bird karma.

Speaking Of...

Since I just mentioned The Statue Of Liberty Enlightening The World, I wanted to link to some pictures I'd taken of it. And I couldn't find any full-on shots here at the blog, so here's a good one that I apparently never shared. This is from my trip to NYC last year around this time.

The Tip Top-Part Two

While I'm showing you things near the sky in DC, how about the statue that sits atop the US Capitol Building? This is the Statue Of Freedom by Thomas Crawford that sits way up there where no one can see it. Again, I shot this with my longest lens, in the best light I could find. It's a little bigger than the chunk of aluminum that tops the Washington Monument, so I didn't have to crop it as tight, plus, it's not as far off the ground. But it's a little dark. You can see more detail in the original plaster model from which they made the mold to cast the bronze version. This model is housed in the Capitol Visitor's Center, under the plaza in front of the Capitol. Some people seem to think it's a copy of The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World, but as you can see, it's not even close.

The Tip Top-Part One

Ever seen the top of the Washington Monument? That's it in the picture above. It's a really, really tight crop of a close-up picture with about a 450mm (35mm equivalent) lens. You can see the multiple lighting rods surrounding the aluminum pyramid. If you want to see what it would look like without the lightning rods, and before it lost almost an inch of height from getting hit by lightning for many years before the rods, have a look at the replica below. This is housed in a small display in the room just below the observation platform in the Monument. At the time of the Monument's completion, aluminum was a precious metal, worth quite a bit more than it is today.


I spotted this sign on the George Washington Parkway just outside of DC. Seemed a bit of an oxymoron to me, George Bush Center For Intelligence. I guess it's really for the first George Bush, though. Pardon the blurriness of the photo, I shot this through the rear window of a car moving at 60 mph away from the sign. I was lucky to get a picture at all.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Chinese America

Who knew that Washington DC had it's own Chinatown? Not me! But we stumbled into it one night in DC while looking for something to eat. And surprisingly enough, we found some really good Indian food. Anyhow, the big gate lets you know that you're in Chinatown, just in case you didn't see the Chinese signs all over the place. The left side of the gate was labeled in Chinese, too, but the right was in English, and you can see that below. Remember Marion Barry, the former mayor of DC? He was busted on cocaine charges and spent six months in federal prison. Of course, after that he was re-elected as mayor for four more years. Something about DC...

In case you didn't feel the Chinese vibe enough, they've even got some propaganda papered up on the walls. Not sure what this poster was for or against, but I thought it fit right in with the scheme of things. It was just to the left of the big gate above, barely out of frame in that picture, actually.

I'm Back!!!

Well, I'm back from DC now. Did you miss me? I didn't think so. Anyhow, I just flew in from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (which I think is the only international airport called National...) and boy, are my arms tired. No really. My arms and my legs. I probably walked 50 miles in the four and a half days I spent in DC, traversing the National Mall from one end to the other more than a dozen times, and then back and forth across DC countless more times. I saw just about everything on my (unwritten) list, with the exception of National Geographic's Explorer Hall, plus a bunch of stuff that I just stumbled on through blind luck. But that, to me, is the best way to really discover an area. On the flight out, we circled right around DC, so I pulled out the camera and squeezed off a couple of shots by twisting my neck around backwards and shooting behind the wing I was seated over. This is the best of those shots, and it's not too good, but you can get the general idea of things. I know this may come as a shock to you, but they don't offer aerial tours of DC, so this is likely to be the best aerial shot I can get for you. You can clearly see the National Mall in the foreground, with just the very tip of the Capitol building peeking in at the bottom. Straight up from that is the Mall itself, with tents still up from a Black Family Reunion event they had Saturday and Sunday. Then you can see the Washington Monument, it's tip skewering the WWII Memorial, and the the Lincoln Memorial. The bridge going towards the left is to Arlington National Cemetery (I walked across that bridge twice) and the bridge to the right leads off to Arlington, VA. There's lots of other stuff visible in this shot, but I won't bore you with the details, those will come later as I begin to post some of the 4000+ pictures I took. Stay tuned!