While I was processing this photo I kept zooming in on the mother duck and wondering why she looked so much sharper than her young. After comparing this with a few other pics, I figured out the problem: it wasn’t that the ducklings were out of focus, they’re just that fuzzy in real life. This adorable little flock paddled around the Reflecting Pool for a while and then hopped out onto the side. Where they were headed, I have no idea. It didn’t look like these tiny fledglings could fly yet, so did they all waddle their way to the Potomac or was this their permanent residence? If the latter, I’m sure the ubiquitous hordes of tourists keep them well fed.
Between the Rotunda and the Corner at UVA there sits a building quite unlike all the others: Brooks Hall. This mysterious edifice was built in 1876 and seems to defy nearly every architectural convention present on the rest of the Lawn. You’ll find no Jeffersonian neo-classical columns here; only a Victorian Gotchic facade that sports creepy animal heads looking out over the windows and the names of natural historians in a stone marquee between the top two floors. Apparently the University thought it to be so at odds with the rest of the Academical Village that it was nearly torn down in the late ’70’s until public outcry stopped the demolition. I wonder how Jefferson would have weighed in on the subject?
A couple weekends ago we had our first outdoor climb of the season. It was a gloriously beautiful day and even though we arrived pretty early in the morning, the cliffs at Great Falls started filling up quickly. Luckily we ran into an instructor we know from Sportrock and he tipped us off to a slightly hidden spot he’d climbed the day before. It had a nice sandy patch at the bottom and the 50-60′ rock face was so varied that we managed to devise at least 3 or 4 separate routes from our single top-rope anchor point. After climbing the wall several times I scrambled halfway up to a sturdy ledge next to the route for some photos. Carolyn showed up a little after noon, and made a couple great sends with her new climbing gear! Some of her family and friends from Cleveland were out at the park with us as well, and after the climbing we all hiked back to the picnic area to grill some brats and enjoy the afternoon.
Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life. – John Muir, Our National Parks (1901)
When I walked through this scene it immediately reminded me of Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte – 1884, which is probably the most famous example of the pointillism style of painting. It’s interesting to think of how this type of social gathering is so timeless that we can relate to it now just as easily as when his painting was made over a hundred years ago. And no wonder it’s so popular; while these people were enjoying their afternoon in the open grass I continued on towards the cherry blossoms and soon found myself muscling my way through crowds of tourists around the Tidal Basin, all of us battling for space on the narrow walkways flanked with mud on both sides. Clearly sitting by the water was the better option!
Astute readers of this blog will notice that the monuments below line up the same way as they do in this picture; both photos were taken around the Netherlands Carillon near Arlington Cemetery, albeit in different seasons. Of course no gift from the Netherlands would be complete without tulips, so the Dutch were kind enough to plant a small field of them around the site when it was constructed in the late ’50s. I can only imagine what Holland looks like this time of year! Technical note: this is the first picture on the blog shot with a polarizing filter, which helped darken the sky and increase its contrast with the buildings.
Prints – A couple people have asked me if I have prints of my photos available. As of today I’ve started hosting a bunch of my work on Imagekind, a site that handles print sales and framing. I’ve used them before to have a photo printed as a Christmas gift and was really pleased with how it turned out, so I can definitely vouch for their quality and service. You can check out the gallery here.