Tag Archives: politics

Protests In Washington DC

Given the polarizing nature of the current president’s personality and demeanor, it should be no surprise that he attracts a LOT of protestors. There are always protestors outside the White House – for as long as I can remember, there was a 24/7 anti-nuclear weapons vigil in Lafayette Square, going back to at least the Reagan administration. The woman who spearheaded that protest has since died, so now the round-the-clock vigil encampment is immigration themed, if I recall correctly.

I don’t usually attend protest rallies or photograph them, given that they can be very sensitive events and I don’t want to be associated with anything that might go wrong when two opposing groups confront each other. Fortunately this is a rare thing in DC, but it does happen.

I was out playing tourist/tourguide with some out-of-town friends over the Martin Luther King Birthday holiday. We walked from the Air and Space Museum up Pennsylvania Avenue past the White House, then on to the Washington and Lincoln Memorials before finishing at the MLK Memorial. Outside the Renwick Gallery there was this character:

MeForDictator
Me for Dictator

Inside his white box, he was playing the harmonica through a portable amplifier. There was no discernible connection between his song choices and the overall theme of his demonstration, so I don’t know to what extent he was consciously protesting, making social commentary, or just serendipitously expressing the zeitgeist because his meds were wearing off.

Outside the White House was a different matter, and a much more pointed display of discontent. This was right after the president had made his “shithole countries” comment, so much of the signage centered around that.

ShitholePrez
Shithole Prez

I chose this image because of the profoundly ironic juxtaposition of the happy tourists posing for a family photo in front of the White House with the protesting woman in front. This is something you will experience here in Washington that I don’t think you see many other places – the cognitive dissonance of “oh look, we’re jazzed to be here!” immediately adjacent to “I’m righteously indignant and I’m not going to take it any more!” expressed over the exact same subject.

ResistRacistWH
Resist This Racist White House

One good thing about photographing protestors is that if you want to get better at “street” photography, they’re a great subject to practice on, because they absolutely want their pictures taken to get their message out to the larger world.

 

DC Pride Parade, June 7, 2014

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.

Rainbow Streamers, 17th Street
Rainbow Streamers, 17th Street

Politics:

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.

US Military Color Guard
US Military Color Guard

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.

Chris Kluwe, Grand Marshall
Chris Kluwe, Grand Marshall

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.

Police Officer Couple
Police Officer Couple

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.

David Catania Supporters
David Catania Supporters

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.

David Catania
David Catania

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.

Eleanor Holmes Norton
Eleanor Holmes Norton