Rat in the Pipes

There was a rat stuck in one of my heater vent pipes earlier today. I could hear him scratching around. I grabbed a Mag-Lite and a hand saw and went to the heater closet. i opened it slowly and discovered the sound was coming from the large pipe from the heater. I called the landlord. He called animal control. I banged the side of the pipe with the Mag-Lite. Now the rat is gone.


Big Old Bugs

Today the cicadas were all over the Mimosa tree in the front yard, and buzzing around all over every tree in the neighborhood. They lay their eggs in branches that break off and fall to the ground. The eggs will hatch and the larva will burrow into the ground and emerge in another 17 years. The males die after mating and the females die shortly after laying their eggs. A lot of them end up smashed on the sidewalk, an inclimactic end to a 17 year life.


A Gentleman's Gentleman and a Bum's Bum

Today, I was taking a breather in the park with one of my freinds Alex. He is a Fine Arts student at the Corcoran and paints for the well-known mural artist Bill Newman. While me and Alex were sitting in the park we noticed a man roll off a bench. We watched, amused, as the intoxicated man tried to lift himself from the ground to the bench. After about 5 minutes he had success. While we were walking out of the park and got a closer look, the man amused us again! After I took this shot I put 50 cents in the mans hand and he murmured, "Thank you ..."


Multi Models

This is my favorite shot from a quickly-scheduled shoot of a multi-ethnic group in front of some of our nation's monuments. It is one of the shots I took in between the "group-style" shot. The backdrop is the newly opened WWII Monument. These are the friends I could gather in 24 hours, minus a few. An agency asked for a multi-ethnic group in front of some of the monuments to promote the National Greenhouse Survey.


Cool and Refreshing, and Zero Calories!

I was admiring the view from inside my nice plastic glass of ice water early this morning. Since the District of Columbia has given me a free Brita water pitcher because of our lead pipe problem, I've been drinking a lot more water. No need to look for any irony there. This is a cup that my cousin Steve used to "take one for the road" at a party in Pittsburgh several years ago. I found it in my car the next day. I sold that car almost two years ago ... my license expired about two years ago.


No Solicitation!

Today I got a snooty reply from a "spiritual" stock photography company, claiming to "Put the Soul in Stock." Usually they send me back a reply either giving me their stock photo agreement or telling me that they don't need my services. I guess I should be more hesitant about who I solicit for information. They're a righteous bunch of nice guys.


Approaching an Abstract Subject Matter

I am shooting a feature story for the Humane Society's magazine. The feature is titled Approaching a Closed Door, and is about people with mental illnesses that cause them to horde animals. The basic stereotype is the "cat lady," the woman who lives with 300 cats yet she is unable to properly care for herself. There's even a "cat lady" that makes an occasional appearance on the Simpson's. For the story I'm shooting a lot of mysterious window and door shots, some cats doing things horded animals might do like drink from the bathtub, and some other shots still in progress. I can't just go take pictures of a cat miser because of the legalities involved so I shoot a lot of staged shots. So far I have about 18 related shots including this one I took tonight at Dave and Rose's place of Dave's silhouette. He has a cat and some other dramatic lighting situations I was looking for.

Local Bird Lady

This is Helen Veronica, Foggy Bottom's neighborhood bird lady. She said she spends $70 a week to feed the birds popcorn and birdseed. The homeless guys in the park like her. One of them named Eugene calls her Miss Helen, everyone else calls her Roni. I met Eugene while I was waiting in the park to meet Roni. When I went across the street to get a drink at the drug store one clerk told the other Roni was so good-hearted that she, "has already made it to Heaven."

Homeless Stereo System

This is Eugene's radio that he seems to have tuned to classic rock most of the time. He lives in Potomac Plaza Park. He told me about Miss Helen's cat before I saw it. He said it was a big fat cat. When I first saw it come out of her apartment into the hall I was surprised by its size. I saw that the hair on its back was matted. Roni said it was because her cat couldn't reach its back to clean itself. About five minutes later she told me it was because the cat had been shedding a lot, so Roni put moisturizer on its fur earlier. "It was a bad idea," she laughed.


Historic Waverly Alley

This alley connecting 14th and 15th Sts NW has a green sign like a regular street that says Historic Waverly Alley. I ask a guy named Jack who was sitting on a stoop by the alley why it was historic. He said it had been used in a couple movies including In the Line of Fire starring Clint Eastwood. I think it's one of the most interesting alleys I've seen in D.C. It has a lot of stairs, windows, and doors.


District Loons

I'm pretty sure this is a Loon. [This is actually a Green-backed Heron.] I took this picture earlier today near the Washington Monument by the Signers' of the Declaration of Independence Memorial island. I'm surprised at the amount of different large birds they have flying around the memorials. I suspect they might be shipped-in to impress tourists. I pretend like they are there to impress me instead.


My friend Jen graduated so I went to a party at her place also celebrating various other occasions. The party went on for a while but as I was walking back in the door from a breather the beer was announced "finished." I nearly turned right around and walked back out the door but I remember I left my bag inside. Thanks for inviting me Jen, I'm proud you graduated. That always looks good on resumes.


Xchanging Conversation

Some friends and I went to the XChange Saloon on 17th and G Sts today. I began frequenting the place first week I arrived in DC. Shortly after I drew them a new logo and I wasn't even looking for work. Recently, I inquired about freelancing for a photo magazine called Rangefinder. They didn't have any work for me but the editor asked if I would like an article written about me in his magazine. I talked to the editor today and he said the article will most likely run sometime in the last quarter of this year. Go to the site for more information.


Urban Conservation

It's nice to see some type of conservation in DC. The National Park Service started this small wetlands area near the Washington Monument. In the past year they have added netting and water grass to complete the ecology for attractive water fowl. Birds in the area like ducks and this Blue Heron seen landing seem to like the extra micro terrain in the pond.


Pun-tastic Fish Art

When I think of the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery I think of Larry Fuente's Game Fish. The playful sculpture uses a Blue Marlin covered in game pieces that collage any-man-U.S.A's leisure activities from the cradle to the grave. I don't get to the Renwick often, and after I view the majority of their collection I remember why. But because of Game Fish a bad day at the Renwick is better than a good day at work.


Helping Friends

Today, after handling some things at the school library, I helped some friends move their belongings from one apartment to another in one of the student housing buildings in the Foggy Bottom area. I was talking about a photo assignment I might procure that involves objects from the Santeria religious stores called Botanicas. It was just a brief conversation with a fine arts student named Jabari. He is a black man with dreads, a description that might fit a number of practitioners of Santeria. Santeria it a very unique blend of the African Yoruba people's tribal beliefs and Catholicism. The two abstracting faiths came together when slaves were brought to South America and forced to practice Catholicism. When Jabari left the apartment I noticed this night light, a common purchase at your local Urban Outfitters ... a sacred purchase at your local Botanica.


The Day Starts Crappy

For all the crap I've dealt with since moving in nearly a year ago today was possibly the worst. I woke up and waded through water in my sandals to the bathroom where i found the toilet reservoir on the toilet cracked and draining all the way into the living room. It was bad but at least I could still take a shower ... until I opened the shower door and sewage was staring back at me! So my landlord called Roto-Rooter and Mike came out and pulled mostly hair out of the drain. I am staying in a hotel room tonight courtesy of my landlord. They come to replace the toilet tomorrow.

Jewish Against the Zionist State

Some Orthodox Jews protest the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee outside the Washington Convention Center today. A rabbi taking part in the protest said that the Jewish people are forbidden to have an official state according to the Torah. These people seem honest and peaceful. It's hard to side with someone and not offend someone else today, but I think they might be on to something.

There are Many Like It

I walked past the Masonic Temple tonight, or as I call it because of its ambiance "The Temple of Doom." The walls by the sidewalk were filled with cicadas. It was awesome to finally be a witness to this phenomenon. Cicadas are much more than the average insect. They come out of the ground every 17 years! I hate seeing them smashed because they are so old. I got a close-up of this one as it was falling to the ground after shedding its shell. I think its friend alongside helped hasten his fall looking for a spot for itself to shed. Some friend.


Wedding Fly-By

I shot a wedding today. The first ever. They wanted a photojournalistic style and not so much of the traditional shots. Actually, none of the traditional shots. There are a few things I'll do differently next time. I think I'll pose more shots. I wish I had taken the bride and grooms photo in some of the settings I photographed the guests in. Most of the people I took posing were already posing for other shots. It took place at the beautiful Potowmack Landing Restaurant on the waterfront. I am sure it will be memorable to all who attended. The ceremony was stopped for a brief moment during the vowels to let a jet taking off from National Airport pass by. One thing happily unexpected was that the bride and her family are Korean and they had beautiful kimono-style dresses.


Just Rode in for a Coffee

I was drinking some iced coffee in Swings Coffee Shop yesterday when through the swinging doors walked Bill Trollinger, rodeo and ranch minister. I asked if I could take his picture because I had never seen a cowboy in the coffee shop before. Trollinger is from Wyoming where he says, "There's not a shade tree anywhere ... if you want shade you gotta wear it on your head!" He said he doesn't do too much cowboying anymore. "I ride the buckin' horses every now and then." He goes to rodeos and tries to keep the young competitors away from all the bad things they might get into like drugs and alcohol. After a short talk and "a regular coffee" he took off back to his preachers' convention.


Cup of Water

After my last class of the semester I got some lunch at Hot Off the Grill with my friend Andrew. Andrew got something like chili-mac or beefaroni. I asked for the meatloaf. The lunch lady behind the counter suggested the mash potatoes and gravy. While we were eating I realized it is the quaintness, and predictability of serving typical cafeteria food that makes Hot Off the Grill so attractive. (Michelle thanks for holding this cup.)


Combating the Heat

I got a lot done today but there is still more to do in the following hours. The heat and humidity made my running around at the last minute uncomfortable. I still found time for an hour of relaxing before class, kicking the ball, squirting the guns, and drinking from cups. The good thing is when I got home the toilet stopped leaking so the floor was dry. Did I ever mention I feel like Shrek living in this basement apartment?


The Passion of an Artist

This is Luly's Fine Art studio space. She is Catholic. This is her painting of Christ. His face is cut out so people can take their very own picture, of themselves as the Christ. There are so many issues raised with this piece of art. The currently trendy commercialization of religion, the thought that anyone can be Jesus, the desensitizing effect our culture has on religion, and the effect "religious" cultures have on our culture. At the same time, the White House seems way too caught up in religious issues and has, since "9-11" brought Christianity back to the mentality of the Crusades. "God, please forgive the dirty bastards, for they know not what the do ... actually, strike them down with great wrath!" (Just try not to hit me.)


Racking Heads

This is one of the photos for my studio lighting class drying in the racks in the photo studio at the Corcoran. It is a contemporary portrait, a well done mug shot. I'm happy that I've been in the photo lab developing 4x5 negatives and printing photos in the darkroom. This drying rack has a look and style that calls to mind the Zen feeling that comes from working in the darkroom. I hadn't recalled how simple and wonderful it was to watch an image appear on paper like magic in developer. I am happy that all of my prints are now finished. Now I start on the digital prints.

Not Wearing Out the Welcome

I had a lot more time to take a lot better pictures of tennis playing at Eastern Market today. After tennis Maris (above) made some awesome hot wings. There was other good stuff too, but I can only really remember the hot wings. On my way home I stopped to get a Slurpee. Fuad, the clerk, said, "It looks like you got that hat fighting in Baghdad." "No," I said. This hat brings up a lot of unique comments. A few days ago I was in line at a liquor store. There was a drunken homeless man in front of me. I was trying to hurry and he was gathering his cans and bags at the counter. I held up my drink and reached as politely as I could around him to pay the cashier. As I was paying I could feel the man staring at me. All of a sudden I heard the low grumble, "My buddy was in 'Nam." Then he turned and left. I love this digital cammo hat, but it attracts a lot of social heat.


Kicked Off the Tennis Court

The end of the semester is in a few days and things are getting down to the wire. The one break I got from the darkroom and the studio today was when I went to take photos of Andrew and Maris playing some tennis by Eastern Market on Capitol Hill. I'd say they had been playing less than five minutes before we got kicked out by the people locking the chainlink fence. On my walk back to the school I saw a group of young Marines. "Is that the digi-cover," said one of them. "Yeah," I replied. "That's not authorized for wear," he said. "I'm out," I explained. "Everything is authorized."


Eventful Event

There was a reasonably-sized crowd at Rex's opening until it's closing. Rex, a writing professor at the Corcoran, had a unique party. Many of the art pieces displayed were made of broken bottles and broom sticks. As the night went on mixtures of diet soda, sherry, and gin infected the ability to make rational decisions. The art became a backdrop for a social evening that was awkwardly comfortable. As Rex kicked the last of the last out after 3 am I wondered where everyone went. Instead of getting a ride like a good goer I decided on the late-night pedestrian express.


The Day After Cinco De Mayo Party

First thing this morning I walked out the door and got a free Brita filter from the District of Columbia for having lead filled pipes. My sweetness of the day didn't stop there; I completed my last video class today. After class there were the all-senior show and the graphic design openings to visit. After the shows everyone hit the Corcoran Parking lot for the "Day-After Cinco De Mayo Party!" The last time I saw such skilled break dancing is a toss-up between mid-90s house parties in Pittsburgh and recess at any of several elementary school I attended in the mid-80s in Orange County. Seana and Alan weren't breaking but they had great time. Seana also won the hot pepper eating contest.

. . .

This is Chad and Sara. They are always sitting under these trees by the E St exit of the gallery. They are taking a little break from the party.


A Great Day I Hope to Forget

The sheer dullness of the day is reflected in this photo of the Geico Auto Insurance Building. I rode and waited for the bus approximately four hours trying to get to a basketball game I skipped class to shoot. The bad news is I never made it. The good news is I saved a lot of money on my car insurance.


Confessions of Bicycling

I walk past City Bikes in Adams-Morgan just about everyday. I notice the light in the shop all the time but tonight I approached from a different angle and saw what reminded me of a stained-glass window. Due to a religion that only I follow, I haven't been riding my bike yet this year. In my faith we are not allowed to ride bicycles on sidewalks in urban areas. I can't guarantee that I will stay off the sidewalk so I haven't been using my bike. I was talking about it earlier with Ricardo, a Fine Arts Photography student who rides his bike with his camera bandoleered around him. I told him another reason I didn't ride my bike is because it is uncomfortable to carry my camera while doing so. I prefer walking the most because it's the easiest way to take pictures. And lastly, it seems I'm more prone to arguing and fighting if I ride my bike because I have Road Rage Plus.

*Mark Your Calendar*

Corcoran College Student Film Festival

This Friday, May 7, 2004 at 7p.m.

at the Corcoran Gallery's

Armand Hammer Auditorium

(I think I have some shorts in it.)


Smooth Operators

This is Jenn, the student body president at the Corcoran. She is from Virginia and talking to her boyfriend who is there, after our morning humanities class. She is a good student who took Advanced Placement English in high school. She is also a writing tutor at the library's writing center.

. . .

Jose is using the phone on the way home from our night studio lighting class. He is always complementing me on my photos. Jose is an immigrant from Cuba working on his BFA in Fine Arts Photography at the Corcoran. I believe his first degree was in Library Arts and he worked for the Cuban government. He eventually got on a crowded boat and headed for the U.S. The boat was turned around by the Coast Guard and Jose lived at Guantanamo Bay teaching Art History and curating art exhibits in the refugee camp for a couple years.

. . .

Joe borrowed my cell phone today. He works at Swing's but he just came into the coffee shop to say "hi." He is busy preparing to leave in two days. He is headed to his home country of Morocco to help his family there for a couple weeks.


Nightmare of a Studio Day

This is a test shot my friend Don took of me today. We were in the studio shooting the 4x5 camera for our studio lighting class all day. We were there today because the tension springs on the camera back are loose and cause light to leak ruining our previous weeks of shooting. We knew this day would be just as bad when we arrived at the studio and the key for the main gear locker was missing. We wasted an hour looking for keys and talking to maintenance until me and Don finally decided to use a hammer and awl to knock the pin out of the lock hinge. After we sorted out the equipment that worked from the equipment that didn't work we started shooting. We had to take proof shots with my digital camera because the 2 Polaroid back at school are malfunctioning. We had successfully taken two film shots when the strobe (or flash) we had placed above on the lighting boom popped, sparked, and smoked ... we had blown a strobe and the fuse for the studio. The lab technician, Antonio, let us work well past the normal hours of the studio. Because of that we finally got some work done after we used extension cords to conduct our power from neighboring rooms.

This is my friend and fellow classmate Don. This is another photo we took to test the lighting arrangement in the studio. In this photo I was trying to recreate a historical portrait that used a background pattern to create an "urban" effect. Out of hunger caused by frustration we eventually went "halves" on a pizza.


World War II Veterans Now Remembered

It rained all day. That didn't stop a lot of people from showing up at the World War II Monument that opened Friday. My friend Andrew read an article that said they were planning on having the "soft opening" earlier in the month. According to Andrew they postponed the soft opening because the monument wasn't yet handicap accessible. Being that the youngest WWII veterans are now about 74 years old, many of them use wheelchairs. The informant also mentioned that 1000 WWII vets die everyday. He said something about how once someone brought up the death statistics the project seemed to go faster.


Watching the Watchers

My friend Seana from class asked if I was interested in freelance work. I went with her today. We helped make a Paralyzed Veterans of America television commercial. This photo is one of the gentelemen from the PVA going over his lines for the commercial. Thank you Seana ... what a unique opportunity.