A Flag for the Fallen

What most people don’t realize about this famous scene from Iwo Jima is that it was actually the second time the Marines raised the flag; another had gone up earlier in the day on top of Mount Suribachi, but afterwards the Marine brass decided they wanted to claim it as a souvenir and sent up another group of Marines with a larger one to replace it. Along with the troops went war photographer Joe Rosenthal, and the rest is history. The world set upon the metaphorical significance of the picture as a hallmark of victory with little regard to the actual circumstances surrounding its capture. It was only after another month of hard fighting and heavy casualties that the island was finally secured, and during that time three of the six men here were killed. Of the three that returned home, only one man (John Bradley) really adjusted to civilian life and prospered after the war. There’s an excellent book called Flags of Our Fathers that sheds light on the entire story, and a movie was made with the same name.  Bradley is depicted here as the second soldier from the left. Flags of Our Fathers was written by his son.

In taking this picture I tried to get a unique perspective on the monument that emphasizes the men who are its subject, since after you read Flags of Our Fathers you’ll never look at the memorial the same way again. The irony here is that I’m taking a picture of a statue that is itself based on a photograph.

I took the picture. The Marines took Iwo Jima. – Joe Rosenthal

A note on future posting: As you may have noticed, this blog hasn’t been updated in a while. Future posts will be intermittent, as I focus on other priorities that are less artistic and more pragmatic. I’m still shooting quite a bit though, and hope to get back to a more regular posting schedule later this year.

Fire Station 4 in Action

I drove past this fire station the other night and was really surprised to see that all the bay doors were open. This was pretty unusual, and since it’s been my goal to get a follow-up shot to Fire Station 4 in Red that shows the interior, I picked up my camera gear and immediately drove back to the station. As I was setting up for the shot an ambulance drove out, and then this fire engine switched all its lights on as the fire fighters stowed their gear. It pulled out just seconds later (you can see from the glow that they have a green light). Along with the earlier pic, these two photos are my fire station equivalent of Goya’s Majas ;)


Directly south of the bridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island, the Mount Vernon Trail becomes an elevated wooden walkway through a stretch of marshland along the Potomac. It’s one of my favorite parts of the trail. Biking over the wooden slats at high speed feels really awesome, and although I should probably be taking care not to run over slower moving pedestrians, my eyes always drift to the side and fixate on this part of the bridges overhead. A few weeks ago I finally climbed over the railing and jumped off the platform to get a shot of this overlooked urban feature. The colors in this scene were pretty bland, so I thought converting the image to black and white would more effectively highlight the lines, shapes, and textures of the bridges.

Capital in Bloom

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.

Watching Over the City

At the bottom of the Netherlands Carillon near the Iwo Jima memorial there are two large bronze lions. They have a fantastic view of the city, and since this shot of the monuments lined up is one of the most classic and oft-repeated photos of DC I thought that having one of them in the foreground would make the perspective more unique. Plus, the texture on the bronze is great and the cold looking snow contrasts nicely with the warm light hitting the city.

On a technical note, in order to make the monuments in the background a meaningful size in relation to the statue I had to make use of what’s referred to as the “distance compression effect.” This basically means I stood back from the scene and zoomed in with my lens; I was actually around 20-30 feet behind the statue when I took this shot and was shooting through the bottom of the Carillon.