I love walking in DC. On Monday after work, I stopped off at Macy’s and then walked home, taking a little detour to go by the White House. It was darker than this photo appears and the absence of light caused the iPhone to do a bit of a long exposure, allowing me to capture this cyclist in motion. She’s on a Capital Bikeshare bike – these bright red bikes are a common sight in DC, and are used by everyone, from tourists to businessmen.
This is the new L St bike lane – also called a cycletrack, according to WABA. I took the photo with an iPhone 4, right around sunset, before editing it in the great new Flickr mobile app. I’ve come to love the Narwhal filter – it creates such an interesting, distressed kind of look, as if this print was just discovered in some antique chest of drawers.
I like wandering the city taking photos. I’m a chronicler, a recorder, pursuing the things I am interested in – city life, the arts, travel and strong horizontal lines.
And in 2012, I got to do so much of what I love – taking boozy Instagram shots of art gallery shows, capturing photos of bike culture and recording life in this city, from protests to performance art.
Here are my favorites from 2012.
It was the year of iPhone impressionism, where I used Instagram, Flickr, Slow Shutter and other apps to capture the city around me. When I take photos, I’m not looking for realism – I’m looking for symmetry and beauty in the urban environment. I’m showing an idealized Washington, a place of warm tones, strong lines and order.
Late in the year came the controversy over Instagram’s odious Terms of Service. That inspired me to check out the newly updated Flickr mobile app, which has great filters like Narwhal (seen below) and doesn’t shrink your pictures down to tiny squares.
My New Year’s Resolution is to use Flickr more and Instagram less.
I have a photo in the Bicycling in Virginia Map, a publication by the Virginia Department of Transportation. The above shot is from the Mount Vernon Trail, just across the Potomac from the Jefferson Memorial. I took it on a beautiful spring morning, when the flowers along the bike path had just began to bloom.
You can order the map for free. It’s a handy guide to the state’s numerous bike trails and routes. From the monumental views of the Mount Vernon Trail to the fall foliage of the New River, the Old Dominion has some of the most scenic bike trails in the nation.
After months of winter, that spring morning was so pretty that I waded into the daffodils to get the photo below. It’s a little Instagram picture but was published earlier this year in Momentum, a biking lifestyle mag.
“Being there” is 90% of photography. Within a few days, the daffodils were gone and the light wasn’t the same. I’m glad I got this picture when I did – it’s one of my favorites.
A photographer friend of mine told me once that if you’re not dirty at the end of the day, then you’re doing it wrong. The secret with portraits is to get low, as this stylish young photog illustrates. It’s such an interesting photo, demonstrating how she interacts with her subject and the level of commitment required to get the shot. Lying on the floor of a parking garage in heels – that’s dedication.
I took this photo in an upright position at the Diamond Derby, a celebration of biking culture in Crystal City.
Artomatic is back! Billed as DC’s biggest creative event, it’s a whole building filled with art in Crystal City. With more than a thousand artists exhibiting, plus music, dance, film and bars, the experience can be overwhelming.
I’m quoted in this AOL Government article on citizen participation. The story makes the point that you can have a much bigger impact in your community than at the federal level.
I’ve seen that in DC (the city, not the metaphor), where local issues are frequently debated to death. For example, the ten-year long struggle over the redevelopment of the Wisconsin Avenue Giant. The plan to upgrade this grocery store was so contentious that it claimed the job of one local planning director and caused her successor to steer clear of the whole mess.
Which is why I’ve been so impressed by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), as I mentioned in the article. They put a bike lane down the center of Pennsylvania Avenue, a project that benefits bikers (like me) and is a powerful example of including bikes in transportation plans. They also put in a protected bike lane down 15th St, a block from where I live. This was done in a matter of months, compared to morasses like the Wisconsin Avenue Giant. Continue reading “The Parks and Rec Effect”
I took the above photo because I thought it was kind of funny – a park ranger in his big hat on a bike. I submitted it to The Wash Cycle, a local blog on bike advocacy. They ran it with the cheeky title, Only You Can Prevent Bicycle Crashes.
Commenters on the site identified the ranger as Bill Line, spokesperson for the National Park Service. He’s infamous among local bike advocates for opposing the expansion of DC’s bikesharing service to the National Mall. And here he is riding a bike.
Not only that, he’s not wearing a helmet and talking on a cellphone. A bag swings from his handlebars, unsafely. Commenters on the site also critiqued his ancient flip-phone and ratty handlebar tape.
Without meaning to, I made news. This simple photo tells a story. Several of them actually, if you want to interpret the image that way. It reveals the hypocrisy of bike opponents riding bikes, as well as a cavalier attitude toward bike safety.
This blog kerfuffle also highlights the fact that public servants are public. What they do is out in the open and possibly recorded by accidental citizen journalists, like myself.
I was on a job interview recently and was asked to define “open government,” the movement to make government transparent and accountable to citizens. This photo is a perfect (though minor) illustration of open government in action, showing what happens when citizens get an unvarnished look at public servants at work.