Thursday, September 30, 2010

Autumn Colors

There is so much color in autumn, especially when strolling through Arlington National Cemetery this time of year. It's breathtaking. Late fall's reds are so familiar that I often forget the brilliance of the yellows and oranges of early autumn.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rocks, Water and Flowers

Falling water is so soothing and beautiful. In Seattle, water and nature was present everywhere just like this fountain made up of rocks, water and flowers.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Looming Teddy

A friend of mine and I walk every weekend when the weather allows and one of the places we like to walk at is Theodore Roosevelt Island National Park. It's an island in the Potomac River across from the Georgetown waterfront. We walked around the island several times before we discovered there was a path leading to an actual monument for President Theodore Roosevelt.

However, this monument is a bit disturbing. It consists of this huge statue of Roosevelt reminiscent of a famous Joseph Stalin pose surrounded by large walls with Roosevelt's favorite quotes. While it's fitting for the monument to be in a natural habitat due to Roosevelt founding the national park system, the statue's pose seems inappropriate and unnatural for Roosevelt. I preferred just focusing on his face for this photograph.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cowboy Horses

Like I've shared previously, the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville is a trip. Here's further evidence.

This statue of western-attired musical horse duo was in the shopping area near the Convention Center. When I saw them, I laughed out loud -- literally. My laughter was so loud and unexpected that it startled people around me. Can you blame me though? While I expected to see a lot of street performers in Nashville, I had no idea even the horses were trying to make it into the country music business.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Watching Over the Wall

One of the best ways to become a better photographer is spending time with other photographers. On a photo walk with a photobug friend, he stepped behind this statue at the entrance of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall and started taking pictures. Intrigued by his approach, I joined him behind The Three Servicemen Statue and saw what he saw. The soldiers were looking towards the Wall. From this perspective, it seems as if they are watching over and guarding the names inscribed on the memorial wall's surface. Photography excursions with friends generates new ways of seeing subjects. So glad I followed his cue and photographed this memorial in a total different way.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Space Something

UFO? Nope, it's just the top of the Space Needle in Seattle. Another one of my photos from a great day exploring this interesting city. It's challenging to photograph a well-known structure or location and make it look different, not like a "Wish You Were Here" postcard.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Seattle from the Island

I've heard that Seattle is gray. So when I visited Seattle for the first time a few years ago, I was surprised that I was greeted by its blue skies and lush greenery. Another surprising discovery in Seattle? Islands for exploring just a ferry away. During my last afternoon in the city, I traveled to one of the Puget Sound islands and took a photo of Seattle from this unexpected vantage point.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Orchids in Tandem

My mother loves orchids. I mean, she LOVES orchids. Mom's wedding bouquet was made up of cattleya orchids and the story goes that when it was time to throw her wedding bouquet, she refused throw her orchids. Instead, she threw another bouquet. Like I said, she loves orchids.

As a result of my mother's devotion for these tropical flowers, I can never pass up an opportunity to photograph them. I discovered these orchids while staying at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville. They seem like delicate orchid soldiers standing in a row. Even miles away in Tennessee, Mom is ever present in these cherished flowers.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sunset Near Mount Baldy

Light can be a photographer's friend or greatest nemesis. Often, light and I are not friends on photo shoots. But sometimes I luck out and find a way to make the light work to my advantage. This photo is a great example. I love how the California sunset lightly highlights the grass in this field at the base of Mount Baldy.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

San Gabriel Valley

The best part about getting my own room as a kid was the view of the "Foothills." I went from sharing a bedroom with a view of the front yard to my sister and I moving to our own rooms on the second floor of our family home with views of the San Gabriel Mountains.

On a clear day (meaning no smog), the view from my bedroom window was incredible. A few years ago on a visit home, I got to experience another one of those days. So, I traveled up to the winding roads of Covina Hills to take this photo of San Gabriel Valley with my beloved Foothills in the background. It was one of those days that made it hard to image living anywhere else.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Majestic Jefferson

Photographing the Thomas Jefferson Memorial a few years ago inspired a new gift idea. A friend was leaving DC for a foreign work assignment after living in the area for several years and I wanted give her something to remind her of Washington while she lived abroad. Her favorite monument in town was the Jefferson Memorial. One Saturday morning, I visited the Jefferson Memorial and took pictures of it from every angle to create a photo book of the Memorial.

When I started reviewing the day's photos, I was struck by this one. Jefferson looks so majestic and presidential from this vantage point. This photo excursion helped me develop a deeper appreciation for this beautiful monument and find a new way to see them through my camera.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Reflected Light

Sometimes, the meeting of nature and man can produce spectacular creations. In this photo, nature's light is filtered through man's stained glass at the Washington National Cathedral. Its merging created a beautiful cascade of color on the walls of the Cathedral's nave. Amazing how the light through the stained glass appears to stain the walls. What a delightful outcome!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Blushing Hibiscus

One of the strangest hotels I've ever stayed was the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee. It was like living in a large greenhouse. The entire property was enclosed by a large glass ceiling and you rarely needed to go outside. Walkways throughout the resort wound through manicured gardens and statuary. Before my first conference session, I rose early and strolled the paths with my camera. It was my only view of the "outdoors" during my stay. During my morning walk, I came across this bright pink hibiscus at the end of its blooming cycle. I loved how its colors were still so vibrant and bold even though it had little bloom left.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Albert Einstein in Bronze

DC is full of many characters, but none as surprising as this bronzed genius sitting on the grounds of the National Academy of Sciences near the National Mall. I came across this statue of Albert Einstein on a photo walk with a friend -- one of my favorite days in DC. It was a surprise to turn the corner and see him sitting there, manuscripts in hand and surrounded by an engraving of the night sky. Three of Einstein's quotes are etched on the platform. This one is my favorite:
As long as I have any choice in the matter, I shall live only in a country where civil liberty, tolerance, and equality of all citizens before the law prevail.
The quote reminds us that Einstein, a German Jew, sought refuge in the United States due to the rise of the Nazis. It was his warning to President Roosevelt about Germany's intention to develop the atomic bomb that launched the Manhattan Project in 1939 and our own building -- and using -- the first one.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Transmission Towers in Silhouette

It's funny how a little information can change the way you see things. Over the past few years, I've become really knowledgeable about electricity and its infrastructure for a project at work. Now I notice substations and turbines and transformers, oh my! Hopefully in the next few years, these transmission towers and above-the-ground lines will become relics of a retired system as we move towards a smarter, cleaner power system. But at twilight, they do make a striking silhouette.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pink Rose

While the Washington National Cathedral itself is spectacular, the surrounding grounds are beautiful as well. The Bishop's Garden in spring is full of roses like this one. I love to photograph roses after they've opened as opposed to as buds. As rose buds, they just look too perfect. Roses are just so much more poetic and romantic in full bloom.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gen. Andrew Jackson on Horseback

This weekend, I met up downtown with a visiting family friend who is a travel aficionado (check out her great blog) and spent the afternoon walking around and sharing all of my DC trivia tidbits. As we left the White House, we passed through Lafayette Square and I came across this statue with my camera. In my haste, I shared that this was a statue of French General Lafayette, namesake of the park, who was a friend of George Washington and served during the Revolutionary War. This isn't him. Thank goodness for the Internet.

This statue is of General (and later President) Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans. Apparently, there's another statue dedicated to Lafayette in park we missed. Since Jackson is tipping his hat towards the White House, I thought photographing it from behind would be an interesting perspective.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Grooming Duck

Here's my photo accomplishment of the weekend. I usually struggle with photographing animals, but somehow on Saturday near the National World War II Memorial on the National Mall I got this photo of a duck grooming himself on the monument's wall. It was like he (or she, for that matter) was posing for me. Most of the time, I miss these moments because I take too long setting up the shot. I'm grateful that this duck was lazily enjoying the beautiful weather and lingered so I could take this photo.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Silent Tribute

Yesterday was the ninth anniversary of the September 11th attacks. I remember waking up very early that Tuesday morning in Los Angeles to prepare for a school presentation. Right after getting out of bed, I turned on the TV and watched Katie Couric and Matt Lauer discuss a fire at the World Trade Center in NYC. Within minutes, I watched the second plane barrel into the second tower and witnessed America change forever. As the day went on, the tragedy continued -- skyscrapers collapsed and later more loss and destruction at the Pentagon in Washington, DC and a lonely field in Pennsylvania.

I've visited New York several times now and have yet to stir up the courage to visit Ground Zero. Not sure I ever will. However when they opened the Pentagon Memorial, I knew I could avoid it no longer. This city that I have grown to love and call home was violated nine years ago and my fellow neighbors and friends suffered great losses and continue to mourn. The least I could do was visit this peaceful, simple memorial and pay tribute to those lost and the friends and loved ones left behind. Between the tears, I took a few photos like the one I share today. Even after all this time, I can still recall the memorial's silence, its empty chairs, its haunting absence.

During my visit there I became even more sure that for us to move forward as Americans, as a country, we must face the past, embrace the present and build a better, more loving future for humankind. We can change the world by becoming the change we'd like to see happen. We can change the world by teaching our children about the past while empowering them to create a more peaceful tomorrow. We can make a better world right now. It just starts with you and me not allowing fear, prejudice and injustice change our intrinsic goodness, our greatness, our soul.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

U.S. Air Force Memorial Honor Guard at Attention

Built near the Pentagon, the United States Air Force Memorial--one of the newest monuments in the area--is a tribute to the service and sacrifice of the men and women of the United States Air Force and its predecessor organizations. This statue of an Air Force honor guard watches over the three memorial stainless steel spires soaring into the air. The shape of the spires are meant to evoke the image of the contrails of Air Force Thunderbirds in one of their famous maneuvers and there are three instead of four spires to symbolize the missing man formation done at Air Force funeral fly-overs. The memorial provides one of the most beautiful vistas of Washington, DC. On a clear day, like the one captured in this photograph, you can truly see forever.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Hint of Fall

I have a problem with picking favorites. When asked about to name my favorite movie of all time, I have two: When Harry Met Sally and Schindler's List. Favorite type of food? Again, two answers: Mexican and Italian, equally.

I'm even indecisive about my favorite seasons. I love autumn and spring, for different reasons. So, while strolling through Mason Neck National Wildlife Reserve last weekend, I was thrilled to capture evidence of autumn's imminent arrival. However, the sight did give me pause. Isn't it really early for the leaves to be changing already? Did I photograph the first glimpse of fall or another example of the effects of climate change? Fingers crossed it's the former.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Up, Together

Another image of the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, otherwise known as Iwo Jima. The detail of this statue is incredible--even the knuckles on their hands are defined. Focusing on their hands working together to raise the American flag on Mount Suribachi explains why this was such a compelling image of World War II and the kinship, struggle and sacrifice of American men and women who served in the Pacific and beyond.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial

Several years ago, I read the book, Flags of Our Fathers, by James Bradley with Ron Powers. Bradley is the son of one of the Iwo Jima flagbearers depicted in the famous Associated Press photograph and now in this U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington. He wrote the book to profile his father and the other men who joined him on Mount Suribachi that day. After reading about their experiences before, during and after WWII, I never look at this monument without crying. Instead of seeing six men raising a flag, I see Franklin, Harlon, Mike, John, Rene and Ira. I see the three who survived the month-long battle (the flag was raised on the fifth day of the Battle of Iwo Jima) and the three men who are buried in the island's volcanic sand. It is a beautiful, yet solemn reminder of triumph and tragedy of war.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Metal Lookout

So what might this be? Any guesses? Maybe a statue? A carving on a wall, perhaps?

It's actually a close-up of a door knocker, the knocker on the door of African American orator and former slave Frederick Douglass' house in Anacostia. When you focus the camera lens very close to a subject, the whole perspective of an object can completely change. Zooming in on a 6-inch long metal door knocker can make it look like a sculpted statue found in a museum. Only the photographer knows the truth, that is until they blog about it right?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mason Neck Marshes


Yesterday, I visited Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge for the first time. Near Lorton, Virginia, it was the former estate of George Mason, one of America's founding fathers and author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights. Bordered by the Potomac River, most of his estate consisted of marshland and is a nesting, feeding and roosting ground for Bald eagles.

While I did not see any Bald eagles during my visit, spending time near the marshlands reminded me how important it is that we conserve and protect the nation's wetlands. Not just to protect our lives and property during storms and flooding, but also to protect the countless birds, fish and other wildlife that reside in its wilderness.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pacific View

Love that there are so many ways to take pictures now. Here's a shot of the Pacific Ocean near San Diego that I took with my cell phone. Incredible! Today, photography can happen any where, whether or not you have your regular camera handy.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A New Day

As I walked to find a spot among the million who came to see Barack Obama become the 44th President of the United States on the National Mall, I took this photo. It perfectly illustrates the hope and joy I felt on that frightful cold January morning on my way to witness that historic event.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Around the Corner

I love the mystery of paths, especially paths in woods. What struck me in this moment was the light seeming to drizzle through the canopy of trees onto the path. It made me wonder, "What is around that corner?" when I took the picture.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Twilight at the Farm

The colors of sunrises and sunsets are spectacular. It's always a coup when you can take a photograph that shows the colors the way your eye actually saw them. A weekend trip out to Uncle Sparky's farm in Centreville in Maryland offered this gorgeous purple-blue sunset.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Key Bridge Through the Tree Trunks

There is nothing like mild, sunny summer evenings. While we haven't had many this summer in DC (most have been just hot and humid), I was lucky enough to have my camera with me when I visited Georgetown's waterfront in June and captured this shot of Francis Scott Key Bridge in the distance.