Sticking with the Friendship Archway

I am continuing to work on my images from a recent trip to Washington D.C. One evening we headed down into Chinatown for some dinner and came to the intersection with the Friendship archway. According to the wonderful community over at wikipedia:

“The colorful, US$1 million work of public art includes seven roofs up to 60 feet high, 7000 tiles, and 272 painted dragons in the style of the Ming and Qing Dynasties.”

It is really quite a beautiful piece of work.

When we first walked up to the archway, I stood on the corner and photographed it much like everyone else was, but then it occurred to me the that I really wanted was the image taken from the middle of the street. So my buddy RC and I jumped out into the middle of the street and set the camera on continuous high and photographed like madmen. We took turns keeping an eye on the countdown for the crosswalk singles and at 3…2…1 we would grab the cameras and head over to the opposite side. This back and forth process continued for several rounds before dinner and a little after dinner.

What amazed me in the process was the excitement that can come from getting your heart racing knowing that DC traffic tolerance for pedestrians in the middle of the street is not exactly high. I am pretty sure that they might flip you off as they run over your body like a annoying speed bump in the parking lot of the local Wal-mart. And at the same time, the more time I spent shooting the more I could see in my head exactly what I wanted to get with my image. I was seeing it as a great black and white.

I’m not crazy so from the second I saw the arch I was planing on doing this great HDR image. This subject just calls out to be done as a bad ass HDR. But as I starred into the image, I knew that I was going to be processing the final image in black and white.  So I opened up an image and did a little work on getting the exposure balanced and ended up with a image that I really like of the archway. I am pretty sure that most people have a real great photo showing off the color, but I think mine really captured my mood and excitement of the light, the traffic and glow of this great work of art.

As for the second image in this post, it is an image that was taken right as I first got to the intersection. It was intended for use in a HDR series, but I just fell in love with the light all over again when I looked at the image in the darkroom. The sun was setting and the archway just lit up and glowed this amazing warm, golden light. While the construction on the left provides a serious distraction, I have included this image for two reasons. The first is that when light is good it really does stop us in our tracks. The golden glow and radiance of this piece of art really is amazing.  The second reason is that in the past, I might have settled for this image. It would have reminded me of my visit to Chinatown, the color and arch are cool, but the image isn’t really me and I would have been disappointed back home. However by continuing to work with a location and subject to find a way to express my experience, I was able to create a photo that still makes me happy for the click.

All images taken on a Nikon D700 with 24-70 F/2.8 on Lexar UDMA media.

April 8, 2012

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