The monument is adjacent to where Wisconsin Avenue crosses over the C&O Canal in Georgetown. It is effectively a zero mile marker, although not precisely, as the canal continues a few hundred yards past the marker to empty into Rock Creek. It commemorates the construction of the canal. I caught it right at “magic hour” when the sky is just dark enough that it matches the ambient street light, but is not so dark as to lose all detail and color. Here it has a wonderful indigo glow. And no, no flash was used in the making of this shot- this was purely ambient light from the street lamps and the sky.
I was up on the old abutment for the C&O Canal viaduct that connected the canal from Georgetown to Alexandria over the Potomac River and looked down to the boat dock for the Georgetown Boat House and caught this composition. I had been photographing Key Bridge with my 5×12 (previously described here) when I looked down and saw this scene which cried out to be shot in the format.
The simple geometry and the contrast between the rigid lines of the dock broken up by the deck chair contrasted with the smooth water of the river really makes the image. Without the deck chair, it would actually be pretty boring. But adding that one small compositional element makes it go from so what to interesting.
These are some portraits I took of my friend Alexander last weekend out in Georgetown. We went out to create some work for a fundraiser benefit in Toronto for Sprott House, a youth shelter run by the YMCA specifically aimed at providing housing for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and two-spirit (the native American term for LGBTQ) teens and young adults. Alexander is a Latino trans man and open and proud, and I thought some portraits of someone living an out, proud life as transgender would be inspiring for kids struggling to deal with their own identities and the impact of being “other” on their futures.
The first couple images are pretty serious and straight images (pardon the pun).
A little bit of humor – this is Alexander’s club-hopping t-shirt. I teased him about the mixed message of serious literature on a clubbing shirt. But it is Lolita, so I guess it qualifies 🙂
Just because a photo has a serious purpose and carries with it a political statement doesn’t mean it has to be serious. While I was posing Alexander in front of the wall of graffiti, he spotted the duck with its tongue sticking out and imitated it. It was a great spontaneous moment and shows his personality.
Alexander wanted to do some shots to show off his growing muscle definition, so he went and climbed the stone pier for the ramp over the canal…
And then jumped off of it…
His script tattoo says “it is better to have kisses than wisdom”. I haven’t made up my mind about whether I agree with the sentiment, but it definitely suits his personality.
Under the ramp to the freeway that passes over the C&O Canal there’s always some interesting graffiti, and right now it’s tagged with this beautiful silver metallic paint that really complemented Alexander’s red and purple outfit.
The last image I feel makes for a great closer for the series – Alexander’s gesture seems to be saying “come with me and we’ll have a fun time!”.
This is a view I’ve seen a number of times but wasn’t ever sure how to capture it until yesterday. I’ve always had the wrong camera with me, either from the focal length, the aspect ratio, or both, perspective. This is an outtake in the sense that I was doing a model shoot with a friend of mine on the pier of the old C&O Canal bridge that used to cross the Potomac River in Georgetown, so taking this photo was not the purpose of the shoot. This is the view looking straight down at the dock for the boathouse.
I was particularly drawn to the geometry and angles formed by the decking on the boat dock, with the red decking running perpendicular to the unpainted deck, and all the triangles formed by the perspective you have to take to see the scene in the first place. Even the boat, which has a totally different shape and texture to the decking, creates more triangles with its prow, and provides visual tension running the opposite direction so you move your eye around the image.
Two very similar shots of the same building. One in soft, diffuse light, the other in strong directional light. While both are about repetition of shapes and patterns, the one remains representational, the other, abstract.
And the difference between these two shots is about two hours. They were taken on different, but weather-wise similar, days, but one was taken around 4pm, the other around 6pm.
Key Bridge is one of the most iconic structures in Washington DC and a major attraction in its own right. It spans the Potomac between Georgetown and Rosslyn, and carries a tremendous volume of traffic between DC and Virginia every day.
The view of the underside is one most people never get, of this or any bridge for that matter.
Key Bridge is chock full of strange hidden nooks, like this service door to something in the infrastructure. Despite being sealed off behind chain-link fencing, people have managed to get in and graffiti it.
The prototypical view of Key Bridge, from the West side. I’m fascinated by how someone managed to get to the bottoms of the piers and graffiti them. You’d have to either have a boat, sail up to the foot of the pier, then climb up 20+ feet from the waterline, or somehow rappel down from the pedestrian deck of the bridge. Not a recipe for success on either front, as I’d imagine you’d be spotted very quickly and arrested.
Here’s a view of the underside where the bridge crosses the C&O Canal.
This is the tower of the old Trolley Barn, which used to house the streetcars that plied DC in the late 19th/early 20th century. Now it is office space on the upper levels. The view is from under Key Bridge, where the on-ramp to the Whitehurst Freeway (really just an elevated bypass to get around the street traffic of Georgetown) splits off of Key Bridge.
I took a stroll through the riverfront park in Georgetown this weekend. There are some steps down to the water that are a popular hang-out spot for people of all ages. This young couple was enjoying the view together, and the little boy was fishing a few steps down from them.
In the same park there is a large fountain just made for people (mostly kids, but I do see some young-at-heart adults occasionally venture into it too) to run under and get wet to relieve themselves from the heat of a scorching summer day. It’s almost as refreshing to watch them running in and out of the fountain as it is to do it yourself! (not that I’m going to do it while wearing a Rolleiflex around my neck)
And just for your curiosity, no, I’m not lurking in the shrubbery to take this photo – there are two planters, one at each end of the fountain, and photographing down the length of the fountain makes shooting through them a natural point of view. Plus the branches of the rose bush provide some nice framing for the shot.
Just a single frame this time, of a door in Georgetown with a cast-iron knocker. I wish I had a front door that could take that kind of knocker – I’ve always loved the hand holding a ball knocker since I saw them in Spain as a teenager. They bring back pleasant memories. They’re kind of like Proustian madeleines, but less edible.
I’m also visually drawn to window glass that is partially transparent and partially opaque from reflections and light hitting it. There’s a certain sense of mystery about what’s behind it because it’s only half-seen.
Here’s a few shots of Georgetown from below- another vista most tourists don’t see, and heck, even most Washingtonians don’t know exists, because they never continue on Water Street past the piers for Key Bridge, if they even go that far.
Cafe Malmaison is a recent arrival under the Whitehurst Freeway, in the section of Water Street that still feels a bit seedy and disreputable.
This is the view of the off-ramp to the Whitehurst looking up from Water Street/the Capital Crescent Trail, with the moon hanging in the sky over the buildings of the Potomac Boat Club.
And Key Bridge’s western elevation, lit by the setting sun.