This was the sunrise that greeted me this morning. What a beautiful way to start the day.
Canon EOS 5D Mk.1, 24-105 L @ 50mm.
This was the sunrise that greeted me this morning. What a beautiful way to start the day.
Canon EOS 5D Mk.1, 24-105 L @ 50mm.
The last of the High Heel Race images from this year. Attending is fun, especially to see all the creativity that gets put into the outfits, most especially from the teams who invent a group theme costume. I swear there are some that start planning next years costume the day after this year’s race, like the fast food themed group or the Washington monuments group of a couple years ago.
One of the most enjoyable parts of attending is the joie-de-vivre of the participants AND the attendees. These women were having a grand old time on the patio at Fox and Hounds. They also actively solicited me taking their photo.
This lady also wanted her photo taken, and was directing me to take the picture of the drag queen in the photo above: “ooh, did you get her? You have to get her! She’s beautiful!”. Her boyfriend/husband was actually not so thrilled with the idea of being photographed, but when he heard it was not going to be in the newspaper, he relented. You can tell, though, from his expression here it was very much HER idea 🙂 .
One thing that is getting very frustrating about photographing the race, though, is the organizers. I realize they have a tough job to do, to keep a very large, and by the time the race kicks off, very drunk crowd under control. But for those of us not blessed with traditional media connections to obtain a press pass and for whom one of the primary reasons for attending is photography, they’re becoming killjoys. The organizers seem to be losing sight of the fact that this is a fun, free-spirited, countercultural event and that being control nazis and bullying photographers is just really uncool. You want good press, let us do our thing and we’ll reward you with great photos and great write-ups about the event. Keep stepping on us and we’ll stop coming, stop taking pictures, and stop showing the world what kind of fun event this is. .
Again, not so many words needed.
Now that is some FIERCE hair!
She reminds me a bit of Divine post-Atkins diet. More than enough polyester pantsuit to go ’round.
The devil/angel made me do it!
Would you call this “masculine glamour”?
Overheard: “We have an ‘unconventional’ relationship…”
These guys actually asked me to take their photo!
The less genetically graced cousins of Rocky Horror and Frank N. Furter:
While the race seems to largely be a young man’s (or is it woman’s?) sport, it’s nice to see some gentlemen of a certain age participating, proof that it’s all in the attitude.
The complete MMRF crew posing in a line, showing off their “assets”.
Sometimes it’s not about the drag… sometimes it’s just a cute guy. With a drink in hand.
It’s FLO! Can I get a discount double-check?
Church ladies on power scooters!
The Fanta girls made a comeback this year. Here two of them are mock fighting over their flavors. (see my pic of them in 2012 here)
The higher the hair, the closer to… oh my god.
Don’t forget that safe sex can be fun… if you tear the dress getting it off, it’s ready to do double-duty!
Now that I’m in to the thick of posting the HHR photos, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves for the most part, and just indulge in a little occasional snark about the subjects as the spirit moves me. Ergo:
Doesn’t the guy on the right look kind of like a young Val Kilmer in drag? Back when Val Kilmer didn’t look like a liver sausage.
I think you could caption this one, “rescue me”!
I think someone was interpreting the giant christmas tree/butt-plug on display in Paris.
American Horror Story: Freak Show hits the streets.
To indulge in a little more technical info about the photography itself, I’m using a Gary Fong flash modifier which looks a lot like a frosted tupperware container whose lid is suffering from mid-life belly sag. Regardless of the appearance, it’s truly the best flash diffuser I’ve tried. It does a fantastic job of softening cast shadows from the flash and spreading the light more evenly, which is a huge plus when shooting in an environment like the HHR – outdoors, at night, under street lamps.
Miss Bette Davis, in da house! This is my friend Rit Lon, channeling Baby Jane Hudson, perhaps Ms. Davis’ most infamous role.
Church Ladies at the Races!
This poor little tourist lady I don’t think quite realized what she was getting herself into when she asked to have her picture taken with a drag queen.
There are actually a lot of straight men who participate in the High Heel Race. Here’s one who is obviously a first-timer in heels, resting his feet before the big event. He was part of a group of friends participating to raise awareness for a friend of theirs who was competing in an ironman/ironwoman contest to raise money for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.
Who knew Angry Birds did drag and drank their liquor through a straw?
Last night I went to the annual High Heel Race in Dupont Circle. It’s a tradition in DC going back to the mid-80s of taking over several blocks of 17th Street, getting all tarted up in the finest (and I use that term extremely loosely, as you’ll see) drag, sashaying up and down for two hours to see and be seen and get lots of attention, culminating in a thirty-second flurry of activity as men in heels and outrageous costumes RUN three blocks.
I’m going to deviate a bit from my standard protocol in posting these and instead of arranging them in logical or thematic groups, I’m just going to post these as a stream-of-consciousness bit in the order in which they were taken. It gets a little overwhelming to manage so many images. Maybe after they’re all posted, I’ll come back through and do a separate “best of” post edited down to a top ten or so.
I’ve seen Cruella deVille here before at past Races and/or in the Pride parade.
The “husband and wife” were celebrating their Virginia gay shotgun wedding to commemorate the instatement of Marriage Equality in Virginia thanks to the federal courts.
Even one of the Nationals’ bubblehead mascots got in on the fun.
This shoot was a bit of an equipment test, as I had bought an external lithium-ion battery for my flash to test out. The battery is a Bolt brand Cyclone PP-310 battery (I ordered mine from B&H, but you can also get them through Amazon, but I don’t think there’s actually any savings at one over the other). It will provide up to 500 full-power flashes on a single charge. I know when I was shooting the Mummers’ parade in Philly a couple years ago, the combination of the sheer volume of shots (I think I took around 300 pics) plus the cold weather really put a strain on my flash and the batteries were failing partway through. I didn’t want to have that happen again, so I invested in this Bolt external battery pack, which can be clipped to my flash bracket or worn over my shoulder on a strap. Being able to keep the battery in a coat pocket would be really helpful in cold weather.
Anyway, the battery performed flawlessly – I shot over 100 images last night, and it barely put a dent in the battery’s capacity. It was still showing four out of four power levels at the end of the night. Another plus- I was expecting it to be heavy, as I remembered the old Quantum batteries that used lead-acid batteries being noticeably heavy, even the small capacity one, but it almost feels like an empty plastic shell, the battery is so light. It’s quite the contrast to the rest of the rig (Canon 5D with vertical grip, Stroboframe flash bracket, 580EX II flash, off-camera TTL cord, and Canon L 24-105 f4 zoom lens).
I completely forget what group this “float” was with. I’ll just call it “Riding in Style”. Who wouldn’t want a size 200 Jimmy Choo stiletto?
One of the go-go dancers from Secrets, the all-male strip bar.
Synetic Theater company had a large contingent in the parade. I couldn’t tell if they were trying to show off their costume-making skills or if they were advertising a specific show. They were definitely showing off their bodies, though. Here are three for your consideration.
Another “I don’t know what contingent he is with” shot. But pink feather boas are a sure-fire attention getter.
The majorette for DC Different Drummers, the gay marching band.
I think he was with the contingent in front of DC Rollergirls, the roller derby team, and not with them. Many of the political contingents were tossing out beads to the crowd, so he could have been with one of them. I thought he was cute, anyway.
I think this float was for an entertainment venue here in town. But it could have been part of the Whitman-Walker Clinic contingent. This confusion is understandable – fake cocktail glasses being carried on platters by guys in waiter-esque costumes doesn’t exactly scream “health screenings”.
Aah, part of the perennial favorites at the parade, Dykes on Bikes. They’re always the lead-off contingent in the parade.
A young boy in a rainbow faux-hawk wig, watching the parade. Here is a shot that plays to the strength of that lens that I was talking about in the previous post. The background swirl really helps to concentrate focus on the boy’s face.
And finally, I close this one out with the cowboy (spiritual cowboy, anyway) in line for the JR’s bar outdoor beer garden.
Sorry for being a week late with posting these. Life gets in the way of blogging at times. If you remember the last time I photographed the parade, I gave myself a little project to shoot the whole thing with just one lens, the 135 f2 L lens for my Canon 5D. This year I did something similar, but with the 85mm Helios f1.5 Russian-made manual focus lens that I have for my Canon. The Helios has a rather unique character to its out-of-focus areas, which you’ll see quite clearly in these shots. The lens is an odd bird in today’s world in that it is a pre-set aperture lens. You focus wide-open, then turn a manual ring on the barrel to set the aperture to the one you have pre-selected before taking the picture. It’s a holdover from the days when lenses had no mechanical interaction with the camera beyond mounting to the body. The upside is that it makes it easy to adapt the lens to any camera. The downside is, you have to remember to re-set the aperture after focusing.
When the lens is properly focused, it gives a unique signature look – the subject is tack sharp, and really pops out from the background because the background has a “swirl” to it reminiscent of but not the same as you would get with a vintage Petzval-design lens. I chose this lens as my one-and-only for the day not only for the out-of-focus effect but also because it is a shorter lens, therefore a little more intimate than the 135. Take a look and let me know what you think.
DC Pride would not be complete without a major political section. Actually, in some way, shape or form, most of the parade is political (especially if you include the religious groups that march under that heading). This year marks the first time an official US Military Color Guard contingent was able to march openly in the parade thanks to the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Watching them march in the parade was a very emotional moment for many people.
This year’s honorary grand marshall was Chris Kluwe, the straight former kicker for the Minnesota Vikings who took a very vocal pro-gay, pro- same-sex marriage stance, replete with some very memorable if not entirely polite turns of phrase. It was an extremely brave stance for him to take, and ultimately it cost him his job. He was honored for being a relentless ally.
This couple marching in the parade with the police contingent showed up at the counter-protest to the Westboro Baptist Church looney-tunes protest of DC Pride, giving silent rebuke to the Westboro clan with a passionate kiss.
David Catania is running for DC Mayor as an independent. It is almost impossible to run for city-wide office anymore without participating in DC Pride – pretty much the entire city council was in the parade, and even several former-candidates who lost their primary elections had marching contingents.
My apologies to David for this photo, but it’s not my fault that he’d been hit by a super-soaker prior to marching past where I was taking photos.
This is Eleanor Holmes Norton, DC’s Congressional Delegate. She sits in the US House of Representatives but does not have the same rights and authority that a full congressperson has because DC isn’t a state. She’s a regular at Pride, though – I don’t think I’ve been to a single Pride parade in the last 20 or so years that she hasn’t participated in.
A few more from the Helios 85mm lens. I’m impressed, what about you? That razor-thin depth of field wide open is tricky to manage, but I think it transitions nicely between sharp and out of focus.
Frosty is one of my two cats. He’s the more wiggly of the two, actually, so it’s a challenge to get him to pose. Chub-Chub will sit still longer, until he realizes the camera is pointed at him, and then he has to come look at the lens.
This is my friend Missy, wife of my best friend Steve. This was a grab shot at their Super Bowl party. She just lights up when she smiles.
Richard is another friend – also photographed at Steve and Missy’s Super Bowl party.