Artomatic Demonstrates the Creative Power of DC

Artomatic
Artomatic in Crystal City

Washington is not The Swamp. Nor is it House of Cards. And it’s certainly not the sleepy burg with a couple of cool restaurants that The New York Times rediscovers every few years.

Instead, it’s something different – a sprawling urban corridor that stretches along I-95 from Richmond to Baltimore, from the blue waters of the Chesapeake to the green forested Appalachians. More than just the nation’s capital, it’s six million people in a megacity that dominates the Mid-Atlantic.

Saturday, while the cherry blossoms were blooming along the Tidal Basin, I crossed the river and went to Artomatic. More than 600 artists, performers, musicians, and creatives of all stripes have converged upon Crystal City for this massive art festival that runs from March 24 – May 6. Artomatic is seven floors of art, along with classes, performances and movies, all taking place in an empty office building just across the Potomac from the capitol. Admission is free.

Artomatic is a non-juried festival. Anyone can participate. Artists that pay a fee and agree to do some volunteer time get space to display their work. Which means that you’ll find stuff you love, stuff you hate, and lot of work that falls somewhere in between.

It’s always inspiring. And I love to see friends of mine in the show. You’d be surprised at how many artists there are in Washington. Lawyers, web developers, government workers by day, they’re painters, photographers and dancers by night. Artomatic gives them the opportunity to shine.

Reach IV by Frank Mancino
Reach IV by Frank Mancino

The 5:01 Project by Victoria Pickering
Victoria Pickering took a photo at 5:01 PM every day for this project.

IMG_2133
Artomatic is quirky

And where else but in the Washington megacomplex could you have a massive, open festival like Artomatic? Only here will you find the ingredients necessary for this unique happening:

  • Space. A lot of it. Thousands of square feet of space in a building soon to be redeveloped, opened or torn down. Artomatic began in 1999 when a developer donated space in an old building. Artomatic typically takes place in transitional neighborhoods, where space is being converted from use to another. Military offices have moved out of Crystal City and their space is being redeveloped.
  • Artists. A lot of them. The 2008 show featured 1,540 individual artists, including painters, sculptors, photographers, dancers and poets stretched over ten floors in a new office building in NoMa. The artistic community is large in the region, featuring moonlighting professionals as well as graduates from local universities.
  • Audience. The memorable 2008 edition of Artomatic hosted the biggest audience ever, drawing 52,000 people. When I visited on Saturday, the halls were full of friends and family of the artists, as well as the culturally curious, drawn to see something new.
  • Organizers. Artomatic ain’t easy. The festival requires talented event planners to acquire the space, recruit volunteers and manage the event. Smart, well-organized, Type-A people, something DC specializes in.

Only in DC will you find this combination of arts, audiences and organizers. Washington isn’t the city you see on CNN. It’s more than just marble columns and endless arguments. Artomatic demonstrates the creative power and vibrancy of a city that few in America truly know.

The Rich Are Different Than You and Me

Spanish steps in DC
Spanish Steps in the snow

It was a very wet snow, typical for DC, one of those storms lingering on the edge of the rain/snow line. A damp, cold and miserable day.

But I went out anyway, not being one to sit inside, no matter the weather. Perhaps that’s why I love photography so much – it gives me an excuse to get out and explore the world.

Ice formed on the hood of my jacket as I trudged up Massachusetts Avenue. When it snows, I enjoy doing a loop around the historic mansions of the Kalorama neighborhood.

In my photography, I like classically-framed compositions. I like strong lines and contrast. I like photos that tell a story, ones that you draw you into the frame.

Which is why I love the Spanish Steps so much. With wet flakes falling on the marble steps, and one streetlight golden, the scene looked like a fairy wonderland. I took off my gloves, pulled out my Canon Rebel, and took this photo.

One of the benefits of being an amateur is that my photos are for myself. I took this photograph with no expectation of anything other than producing a pleasing image.

A couple of years later, I was walking through Mitchell Park, the green jewel that sits atop the Spanish Steps. There was a flyer for a photo contest, sponsored by the Friends of Mitchell Park. Free to enter, prizes unspecified. Remembering my photo in the snow, I entered it into the contest.

Several months later, I received an email telling me that I won one of the categories and would I come to a reception at the residence of the French Ambassador. Sure! There I was trudging up another hill in Kalorama, this time to a Tudor mansion, after a couple of $4 beers at Glen’s Garden Market

French Ambassador's residence
Residence of the French Ambassador, a Tudor-style mansion in Kalorama.

Inside, it was like a scene from the Great Gatsby, though the crowd was older, as supporters of the park enjoyed champagne and canapés. The French Ambassador gave a short speech, thanking those present for their support in making Mitchell Park such a special little park. DC parks often depend on outside financial support for their operation.

The other two winners and myself were then recognized and given prizes. Mine was a wine tasting for six! That’s way more than I expected from a free contest.

I won!
Me and my photo.

The rich are different than you and me, according to F. Scott Fitzgerald. Mitchell Park has some illustrious neighbors, including the Obamas, Ivanka Trump and Jeff Bezos. Topics at the reception included speculation on how much the Amazon founder paid for his mansion. While the Mitchell Park supporters were not as wealthy as Bezos or Trump, they were a world away from my $4 beer lifestyle.

But money can’t get you everything. Money can’t buy the experience of pulling on your boots and venturing outside in terrible weather. All the riches in the world won’t put you in front of the Spanish Steps on a snowy afternoon, as you line up the perfect shot, your fingers slowly freezing. That’s something that you have to do for yourself.

Practical Advice for Protesters

Anti-Trump protest

More than 200,000 people are expected at Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington.

I’ve lived in DC for two decades and have witnessed countless protests, from the aimless grifters of OccupyDC to the thundering anti-war protests of the George Bush era.

I love taking photos of protesters. It’s real drama on the streets of DC. And while I’m not one to rise up, fist in the air (unless it’s in support of bike lanes), I admire their passion.

Living in DC, it’s easy to be jaded. During the Occupy movement, it was protest du jour, as a couple dozen millennials occupied K Street at rush hour every evening (“Whose streets!” “Our streets!”) while police protected them from a sea of angry drivers. The protests had a ritual quality – the same people, the same slogans, the same protocols until the whole thing fizzled out, the professional left drifting away, leaving McPherson Square a shantytown of broken tents and broken dreams.

Hippie star at Key Bridge protest

But protests can make a difference, as any history of the 1960s will tell you. More importantly, they bring like-minded people together, allowing them to forge stronger connections and partnerships. If you’re a liberal in Oklahoma, a protest like the Women’s March provides affirmation that you’re not alone.

Protest means sacrifice. You’re giving up your time and money to support a cause you believe in. It ain’t easy. And protest in DC, amid the marble columns and soaring monuments, can be thrilling. And exhausting. Here’s some practical advice for protesting in Washington, DC.

Transportation

U St Metro in black and white

Washington is a complex urban environment, relatively dense, with limited access points. We have a semi-functional subway system, some commuter rail and are surrounded by highways in perpetual gridlock. Complicating things, there’s a river on one side. And chunks of the city, like around the Capitol and White House, are closed to the public.

Don’t expect to drive anywhere near this mess. Take Metro, a bus or a bike. Leave early and give yourself plenty of time.

The good news is that Washington is a walkable city. You can walk from the White House to the Lincoln Memorial in fifteen minutes.

Also, the scale on the Metro map is deceptive. The stations downtown are closer than they appear. It’s only a couple blocks from Metro Center to Gallery Place. If you’re coming to the Women’s March, use the stations off the Mall, like Archives and Federal Triangle to avoid the crowds.

Bikes aren’t allowed in the exclusion zone during Inauguration Weekend. Which is a pity, because they’re the best way to get around the city. Capital Bikeshare is the city’s bikesharing system and it’s cheap and easy.

Circulator in the snow

The Circulator buses are also a great way to get around. The fare is a $1 and the routes are pretty straightforward.

Comfort

Joggers and walkers by the Lincoln Memorial

You’re going to be walking! Wear comfortable shoes. The day of the march is not the day to break in a new pair. No one cares what your feet look like.

Bring food and water. Around the monuments, your food options are limited. If you’re lucky, you can get a hot dog from a stand. Pack some snacks. Also, all the water fountains on the Mall have been turned off for the winter. Bring water. You’ll get thirsty from marching and chanting.

Dress for the weather. Check the forecast and dress a little warmer than you think you’ll need. You may be outside for hours.

Tech

A classic iPhone scene #charging

Ah, the problems of our connected age when we can’t get connected. 100,000 people trying to update Twitter at once is going to tax even the most robust network. Your cellphone may not work in the crowd. Be patient. If you’re meeting people, make plans ahead of time, if possible – don’t count on them being able to reach you.

At some point during the protest, everyone is going to need to recharge their phones. People will peel off, in search of electricity, clustering around outlets like cavemen around a fire. Bring or borrow a portable battery. I like my Jackery portable charger.

Police

Park Police look on

You need an appointment to get arrested in DC. It’s true. The DC police are not going to arrest you during a protest, unless you’re a celebrity who has made previous arrangement with them. It’s a highly choreographed and largely symbolic affair. The city is still paying off plaintiffs from their last mass arrest during a protest so they have no interest in arresting you or anyone else.

The Park Police, however…  Perhaps because they’re least intimidating of DC’s numerous police forces (they have the word park in their name), they tend to be the most aggressive. Nothing they like more than closing monuments and public spaces. Do what they say, even if it’s nonsensical. The same is true for the Capitol Police and the US Secret Service. There are at least 28 separate police forces in DC plus countless rent-a-cops so there will be men with strange uniforms and guns yelling instructions at you.

fenced in at the Washington Monument

Security theater has overwhelmed Washington over the past two decades, stealing space from citizens and making it the private reserve of the nomenklatura. It’s infuriating. And expanding, as the Secret Service slowly takes over the Ellipse and other public spaces around the White House.

They love putting up fences. Fences around monuments. Fences around fountains. Fences protecting other fences. Someone climbed over the fence! Put up another fence!

This absurdity will be at its highest level during the inauguration, as if chain-link could protect us in the era of the drone and missile.

If you’re here for the Women’s March, expect to be funneled through fences, like cattle, and subject to TSA-style search. You won’t be able to get near most of the monuments, either – they’ll be protected by fences, of course.

Photography

A picture of me that I actually like

It’s tough to participate in an event and take photos of it. Fortunately, my friends from DC Focused, InstagramDC, ExposedDC and countless local photographers will be there to document the action using #WomensMarch

I’ll be around too, posting photos to my Instagram account and Flickr. Ironically, I’m not a big fan of crowds, so I’ll be on the periphery, where I can easily escape.

Don’t bring much gear! Nothing bigger than a small bag is allowed during the Women’s March.

If you are taking photos, look for details that stand out in the crowd – a red flag, a friendly smile, a cheeky sign.

i'm socially conscious and stuff

Plan B

Planning ahead means having a Plan B. Make sure you have a contingency plan, one that covers events ranging from the annoying to an actual emergency. For example:

  • You get separated from your group and the mobile network goes down. Where will you meet?
  • You’re tired/hungry/cranky. Where will you go for food/water/caffeine?
  • You get anxious in the crowd. How will you get out?
  • An actual emergency occurs. It’s chaos. Where will you go to be safe?

Hint: hotel lobbies make excellent places to hang out if you get lost/bored/tired. If you’re at the Women’s March, go north to Farragut Square and Dupont Circle to find food and shelter. I like the Renaissance Dupont, because they have an Illy cafe there.

Cappuccino Viennese

Trump is determined to bring back many elements of the past. He’s also bringing back the era of the mass protest. The Women’s March is just the first of many.

If you are coming to DC to make your voice heard, plan ahead. And wear comfortable shoes.

Canon G9 X Update: Love This Little Camera

Sometimes, you don’t want to shoulder the DSLR. But you want something that’s better than the iPhone. The Canon G9 X is ideal for this kind of everyday shooting.

Saturday was a day that began in ice but ended with dry roads and blue skies. Once the melting began, I hopped on Capital Bikeshare and headed for Hains Point. Popular with area cyclists, it’s a peninsula that juts out into the Potomac. People like to ride loops around the park. But on Saturday, with a good chunk of the region still dealing with icy roads, the park was deserted.

In the pocket of my jacket, I stuck my Canon G9 X. I’ve been really happy with this purchase. It’s the perfect camera for impromptu adventures, featuring the ability to take great photos – and it do it with a camera that’s not much bigger than an iPhone. You can even shoot one-handed with it. I did so while pedaling on my bike, which is something you can’t do with a DSLR.

It has its weaknesses, of course. No camera is perfect. It lacks a big zoom and the quality of the photos are DSLR-like but will never be as good as a DSLR with a big piece of glass mounted on it.

But, as the camera you stick in your pocket as you head out the door – the Canon G9 X is absolutely perfect for that, offering the ability to take lots of great photos with a convenient and easy-to-use camera. I’ve grown to love this little camera.

Photos from Saturday’s adventure with the Canon G9 X!

reflections on the Potomac River

the graceful lines of East Potomac Park

glowing sun over National Airport

Took this photo with one hand, while biking.

Bikeshare at Hains Point

between the bridges

 

The Future is the (Photography) Collective!

full house

How do photographers make their voice heard in a era saturated with millions of images? By forming a photo collective, a group of photographers with a common vision or subject matter. Photographers pool their talents and expertise to make a larger impact.

The idea is an old one. Magnum Photos set the tone for post-war photography, creating iconic images of war and conflict that still resonate today. And it’s a photo collective, owned and operated by the top editorial photographers in the world.

Slightly less famous is The Rooftop Collective, a gang of seven with a shared interest in lifestyle photography (i.e., gorgeous photos of food and drink). Growing out of the much-larger InstagramDC group, the collective had their first show recently at Black Whiskey, a nouveau dive on 14th Street in Washington, DC. Being friends with the group, I was glad to attend – and take some photos with my trusty Canon G9X.

There are a lot of advantages to being part of a collective. Putting on an individual show is a daunting effort. Providing a few photos for a group show is much easier. Collective members share their experience in framing, staging, marketing and outreach.

Being part of a collective is also a third-party endorsement, even if it’s self-created. If you like one Rooftop Collective photographer, you’ll probably like another, for the photographers have been selected for a similar vision.

The biggest benefit, however, is the power of the network. The show at Black Whiskey was packed for the group could draw upon their combined social networks. With seven members, that’s a lot of invites going out and a lot of exposure for photographers in the collective.

By pooling their contacts, resources and skills, the Rooftop Collective can make a much bigger impact as a group than they ever could do individually.

Comrades, the future is the (photography) collective!

The Fate of Polaroid: A Warning for Apple

Instant: The Story of Polaroid. Fascinating, even if you're not a photographer. Polaroid was the Apple of the post-war era, with a charismatic founder and a reputation for pioneering new products. "Do what no one else is doing" was their motto. #igdc #pol

A charismatic and iconoclastic figure creates a world-changing product. He insists upon doing things his way, the market be damned. His motto:

Don’t do anything that someone else can do. Don’t undertake a project unless it is manifestly important and nearly impossible.

He makes products for artists, by artists – many of his new hires have no business experience – and he reaps monopoly profits for decades due to his singular and uncompromising vision.

Steve Jobs?

No.

Edwin H. Land, creator of the Polaroid camera. Now just a historical curiosity, his company was a mainstay of investment portfolios during the 50s and 60s. It was the technology sector, with a huge budget devoted to research and a reputation for developing new and cutting-edge products and processes. Polaroid was a skunk works, a Lockheed Martin of photography, that well-funded competitors like Kodak hopelessly chased.

No camera represented the 1970s more than the Polaroid. It was as iconic as the iPhone is today.

After 43 years as CEO, Edwin H. Land retired in 1981. His successors lacked Land’s passion. His risk-taking. They were bland corporate types more comfortable with spreadsheets than artists experimenting in labs.

Like other camera manufacturers, Polaroid saw the promise and threat of digital photography but failed to act upon it. Edwin Land had said, “An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” But with digital photography, Polaroid was afraid to fail, fearful of cannibalizing their own market for instant cameras.

Polaroid developed new products but they were just repackaged versions of old cameras. They created cheap products though Land (like Jobs) never wanted to compete on price – both men wanted to compete on innovation, creating new technology that demanded a premium in the marketplace.

The end came more quickly than anyone imagined. Polaroid went from record profits to bankruptcy in a decade, as one-hour prints undercut the attraction of instant photography. Corporate raiders swooped in, to loot the company for their own profit, the end of Edwin Land’s company coming in 2001.

The amazing and tragic story of Edwin Land is brought to life in Instant: The Story of Polaroid. Not only is it a great read, it’s a beautiful book that would look at home on any coffee table.

Reading it, the parallels between Land and Steve Jobs are inescapable. “Like visiting a shrine,” is how Steve Jobs described meeting Edwin Land and seeing his lab. The cameras created by Land were beautiful objects to admire. “He saw the intersection of art and science and business and built an organization to reflect that,” Jobs said.

And so did Steve Jobs. Products like the iPhone fuse revolutionary technology and great beauty. Neither man was interested in marginal improvements but whole new categories of products – things that people didn’t know they wanted until they saw them.

Polaroid SX-70 Life cover
Land demonstrates the SX-70 on the cover of Life magazine.

While Polaroid produced many cameras, its most famous product was the SX-70. Introduced in 1972, it was a beautiful revolution in technology, offering truly instant photography in a foldable body. Though expensive, it was adopted by artists like Andy Warhol and by the general public. Every detail was overseen by Land, like Jobs did with the iPhone. It was also the last major innovation from Polaroid, the company content with making cameras that were cheaper and slightly better than the previous models – but not revolutionary.

What has Apple produced since Jobs’ death in 2011? Other than the curiosity that is the Apple Watch, they have not produced any new category-defying products. New iPhones come out with regularity but, like improvements to the SX-70, they are just marginal advancements. Without innovation, there is no excitement.

When was the last time you had to have an Apple product? I’m typing this blog post on a MacBook Pro that’s six years old. Why haven’t I upgraded? While the new models are a little slimmer, and a little faster, they’re not fundamentally different than my current computer. And the newest models are worse than my MacBook, lacking ports – ports! – that every computer user needs to do their work. I’m not interested in acquiring a collection of dongles, so I’m going to keep this MacBook for a while. It’s still better than anything in the Windows world.

The fate of Polaroid is a warning to Apple, demonstrating how a company can go from dominance to disaster in a few short years, if it ceases to innovate. I hope that Apple arrests its drift and empowers the artists within the company. In the words of Edwin Land:

In my opinion, neither organisms nor organizations evolve slowly and surely into something better, but drift until some small change occurs which has immediate and overwhelming significance. The special role of the human being is not to wait for these favorable accidents but deliberately to introduce the small change that will have great significance.

 

Photo Gallery: Mayor Bowser Signs Bill Helping Local Cyclists

Photos from the Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA) happy hour at Mission, where Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act of 2016. This new law makes it easier for cyclists and pedestrians to sue motorists who hit them.

I happened to be standing next to the Mayor as she waited to be introduced. She was amazed at the turnout – all the local networks were there, as well as DC Councilmembers Cheh, Grosso and Silverman.

And no wonder – biking has never been bigger in DC. With protected bike lanes and bike sharing, more people than ever are taking to two wheels. The Mayor remarked that getting more people biking will help reduce gridlock. And it’s faster than driving, in many cases. Bowser’s Chief of Staff got from City Hall to Mission on his bike faster than she did in her motorcade.

It was fun to see so many friends from WABA, an organization that I’m proud to support. All the photos came from my new Canon G9X, a handy point and shoot. With this little camera, I was able to drink beer, eat guacamole and take pictures all at the same time!

 

Happy Birthday, Capital Bikeshare!

me and bikeshareLaunched six years ago today, Capital Bikeshare changed the way DC gets around. These ubiquitous red bike bikes revolutionized biking in this city, bringing cycling to the masses. Biking is no longer just the provence of fearless young males. With thousands of Capital Bikeshare bikes on the streets, it’s now something that everyone does – from office workers commuting downtown to tourists visiting from overseas.

More bikes means safer biking for all. Capital Bikeshare made drivers accustomed to seeing bikes on the streets. This not only made the streets safer for cyclists, it made things safer for pedestrians, by forcing drivers to slow down and be slightly more aware. God knows that the city doesn’t enforce traffic laws. But the presence of people on big red bikes has a “traffic calming” effect that has probably saved lives.

I was an intermittent CaBi user until this year. Joining in February, I’ve already racked up 286 miles on bikeshare. Most of the these miles were back and forth trips to the Metro, in which I used bikeshare for the “last mile” between public transportation and my home. While I have a bike, I also use CaBi for trips where I don’t want to take my real bike. Some examples:

  • Don’t want to leave my bike at Union Station where it could get stolen – take bikeshare.
  • Metro breaks down – take bikeshare.
  • Going out for drinks – take bikeshare to bar, Uber home
  • It’s raining/snowing and don’t want to get my bike dirty – take bikeshare.

It’s very handy to have this network of bikes available to you any time of the day or night. Capital Bikeshare is ideal for a compact city like DC, where parking is limited.

Spotcycle is key to the regular CaBi user, providing a real-time map of bikeshare stations and available bikes. I use it every day.

One more thing: those bikes are damn attractive. The beauty of bikeshare is part of their appeal. They’ve made DC a better-looking place and are an irresistable photo subject. Here’s a selection of bikeshare photos over the years. Happy birthday, Capital Bikeshare!

bikeshare girl

bikeshare in the snow fall bikeshare at Navy Yard bikeshare and tulips Santa bikeshare bikeshare in snow cherry blossom bikesharetour de bike lane bikeshare 28891575276_8483e9f826_o

 

The Maritime Republic of Eastport

IMG_1233Island life makes people a little crazy. Key West has the Conch Republic and a little neighborhood in Annapolis has the Maritime Republic of Eastport?

While technically not an island, Eastport feels that way, located across a drawbridge from highfalutin historic Annapolis, MD. But you won’t find cobblestone streets and signers of the Declaration of Independence here. With its narrow lanes, wooden shacks and air redolent of the Chesapeake Bay, it really did remind me a bit of Key West.

My trip to Eastport was courtesy of Enterprise CarShare. I’m a social media ambassador for them, like a real millennial. It was a day trip for me. Easy – you reserve a car online, swipe a card over a sensor on the windshield and drive off. Gas is even included.

IMG_1223
Ford Escape – an SUV that I actually like.

I picked a Ford Escape which was conveniently parked a block from me. I really like that little SUV. You can haul stuff with it (like a bike) but it’s also nimble enough to parallel park.

Annapolis is about an hour from DC. Once there, I stopped for coffee at Ceremony.

Photo Aug 28, 10 21 59 AM
Coffee and a muffin at Ceremony Coffee in Annapolis.

Then I met my friends Lynn and Anthony for lunch at Davis’ Pub in Eastport. Crab dip over a pretzel – delicious! It was also nice to sit outside by the water at this unpretentious bar.

IMG_1232
Davis’ Pub in Eastport
Photo Aug 28, 12 28 51 PM
Lynn and Anthony has said that no one has ever not liked this crab dip – they were right!

We then walked over to the Annapolis Maritime Museum. This riverfront museum is devoted to the history, ecology and the arts of the Chesapeake Bay. Learned a bunch about oysters. And they had a great exhibit of photos on the people still wresting a living from the bay.

IMG_1249
Photo exhibit at the Annapolis Maritime Museum.

This was the third of my three free trips courtesy of Enterprise. I get free travel and a small fee, and they get photos to use online. It’s been a great opportunity to explore new places and take photos.

When I briefly owned a car in DC, all I did was worry about tickets, break-ins and having my car towed to some distant lot. Carsharing is easier, even for a non-millennial like me.

Photo Aug 28, 1 14 45 PM
Not a millennial.

 

Canon G9 X: First Impressions

Canon G9x
Canon G9x

My first digital camera was a Canon and since then I’ve been wedded to the brand. It was a Canon Digital ELPH S110, I believe, a compact 2.1 megapixel shooter that I paid close to $400 in 2001. Back then, anything digital was impressive. But I also really liked the design – square and metal, it had a heft and solidity that soon disappeared in digital point-and-shoots .

I moved on to DSLRs, getting a new Canon Rebel every few years. And the iPhone got better and better, largely eliminating the need for a point-and-shoot camera. And almost eliminating the need for a DSLR.

I tried different point-and-shoots but was unimpressed, finding them slow and disliking their cheap plastic bodies.

With one exception: the Canon G series. This was a camera that I could love, being fast, good in low light and with a metal body that seemed substantial in one’s hand. It seemed solid, reliable and made by people who recognized its value. This was not a camera destined for the electronics aisle at Target but a well-constructed tool to be used by professionals.

So when the Canon G9 X went on sale at B&H, I jumped at the opportunity to get a decent point-and-shoot. B&H is awesome – I received the camera the next day. While it was billed as an “open box” special, it looked brand new to me.

Think I’m going to like this camera. While smaller than in the pictures (think smaller than an iPhone), it has the heft that I want, as well as capable of producing some awesome images. It’s fast and fun.

And beautiful, a trait that should not be underestimated when marketing electronics. Devices are more than just functions, they need to be aesthetically appealing, like the iPhone.

u street metro
U Street Metro
Bikeshare on 14th St
Bikeshare on 14th St

My only complaint: wish it had a longer zoom. This is an area where Canon has fallen behind Sony and Nikon.

Still, the Canon G9 X is perfect for my needs. I wanted a camera to take on my bike, something light and yet capable of producing better images than a mobile phone. The Canon G9X easily fits into a bike seat bag, with room for a wallet, iPhone and Clif bar.

Ben's Chili Bowl
Ben’s Chili Bowl
Dacha Houe
Dacha House
Liz Taylor mural
Liz Taylor mural

And when I carry it in my messenger bag, I don’t even notice that it’s there. I put it in an interior pocket because it got lost among my books and papers. It starts up quickly so you can grab a quick shot on the go.

One other slight complaint: a viewfinder would be nice but I recognize it’s 2016 and the kids don’t use them. We’ve all gotten used to looking at screens.

I think this will be a fun little camera, rekindling my my love for point-and-shoots, and ideal for my biking and wandering around the streets of Washington, DC.