This is an exploration of twilight into dusk in and around the 14th Street and U Street corridors in Northwest Washington DC. All these shots were taken in the same evening, and are within walking distance of one another (although in the name of time efficiency I drove from one area to the other so I wouldn’t lose the last light in the sky).
Nellies is a gay sports bar (betcha never thought you’d hear THAT particular combination!) at the corner of 9th and U Street and Florida Avenue (U Street turns into Florida Avenue at 9th). I’ve driven by hundreds of times and always thought about photographing their lights, specifically the “OPEN” arrow on the corner. The night I started this project, I decided to shoot the building from two different angles, one to capture the general ambiance of the intersection, the other to specifically address the OPEN sign.
Around the corner from Nellies is this abandoned warehouse which has some really wild and cool and somewhat disturbing graffiti on it. I shot some of this graffiti through the chain link fence around the side lot. The disturbing piece I intentionally cropped out of the shot, as it is the nude lower half of a female body that appears to have been severed from its torso.
Over on 14th Street, we have had an explosion of new restaurants in the last five years, with a huge spate in the last year alone. Rice Restuarant is arguably the best Thai restaurant in DC, and certainly the most innovative. A good friend of mine opened it gosh, maybe ten years ago, virtually pioneering the restaurant boom in the neighborhood. Now next door to Rice is Ghibellina, an Italian joint that opened this year, and next door to that is Pearl Dive, an oyster bar, which opened perhaps 2 years ago. Le Diplomate is a French bistro across the street in what was originally a car dealership in the 1920s, then became a laundromat. Le Diplomate also opened earlier this year.
At the intersection of 14th and Q Streets, I pointed my camera south on 14th to try and capture the energy of the neighborhood, through the traffic, the lights, the construction boom represented by the crane, and the people on the sidewalks.
Here is a second version of the shot, a longer exposure, that captures the car sitting at the traffic light, then traffic taking off when the light changed. The funky stuff in the sky is a combination of reflections of the tail-lights and head-lights of the cars reflecting off the clouds and lens flare caused by the lights directly shining into the lens.
I’m not sure if I like this one well enough to keep it or if some other night I go back and try to re-shoot it. Feedback welcomed. All shots, as is becoming normal to say now, were taken with my Rolleiflex 2.8E, on Kodak Ektar 100 film. This was in part an experiment to see how well Ektar would fare against Portra 160 as a low-light film. I’ve loved Portra as a low-light film for its ability to handle mixed lighting conditions. I’d say this put to rest any thoughts of Ektar 100 being inferior- it does look different, to be sure, but I’d say it did a pretty darned good job. I think I might even prefer it in some cases.