Confessions. And Precarious Pursuits.

When do you know you have become a crazy photo enthusiast?  I got my answer this week. You see, I have never considered myself as a photographer. But I have to admit photography has occupied my mind – and my time – quite a bit lately. I’ve had nightmares about not having one single photo to post on my blog. And I’ve dreamed about another photo safari in Africa. All true.

giraffe walks the trail ud48Early this week I found myself far from Africa, on a whirl-wind visit to Washington D.C. for work. My incoming flight was delayed due to bad weather in D.C. and I arrived at my hotel late, around 8 p.m. It was raining. As soon as I had put down my small carry-on, I checked the view out of my window. Through the drizzle and darkness, I could see the Washington Monument, the “needle”, blinking in the distance. Without a second thought, I took out my umbrella and my camera bag, and put on a trench coat. Being in the nation’s capital this time of year  I had to see the National Christmas Tree. And take some pictures. Even when I knew I would be two days early to see its full glory.

washington-dc-ud92I must confess I knew that walking solo at night in downtown D.C. was not a completely safe undertaking, particularly outside the lively restaurant quarters. I found myself walking on deserted streets among all the sleepy government buildings. 12 blocks. It was not raining anymore, but the mist was hanging heavy and the visibility was poor. I felt in my bones that my pursuit of pictures might be an exercise in futility. But I kept going.

exacutive-building-dc-ud92Finally I passed the Executive Building and arrived at the White House. Some people were lining up at the east gate, perhaps to attend a holiday function. I passed them and walked south into the dimly lit park toward the “needle”. No soul in sight.

the-washington-monument-2-ud92And after a few minutes I spotted the National Christmas Tree. It was not lit as yet, but I thought it still looked beautiful. It would be lit on Thursday, December 1st when I would already be back home. (You can find the White House tweet on the side bar to see the true glory of the tree and to hear the President’s beautiful message).

national-xmas-tree-3-ud92The little Christmas trees representing the states were illuminated by light beams of various colors coming from the tents at the outskirts of the fenced area.

white-house-xmas-trees-small-ud92I stayed there in solitude for a while snapping more pictures in the misty night…

…before I walked back towards the White House. It was beautifully decorated for the holidays. The famous columns were lit, and many Christmas trees were visible through the windows. Despite the dreary weather, I could feel the spirit of the season.

white-house-3-ud92I was tired, but happy with my nightly photo outing. The rain held off and I walked back to my hotel for a late dinner. Maryland blue crab cakes with a glass of good wine. And a few usable photos. You can’t get a better reward for being a crazy photo enthusiast.

I wish you all a great weekend.

66 thoughts on “Confessions. And Precarious Pursuits.”

    1. Thank you Sally! The White House was very beautiful with all the holiday lights. Had it been better weather, I would have stayed there longer and perhaps walked to the National Mall too.

    1. Thank you. Luckily I took my new Canon and my most light sensitive lens with me. I was surprised how well they did in this really misty night when everything was covered in whitish-gray mist 🙂

  1. Well done Tiny, a lovely night walk, thanks for sharing it, your pics are great. They remind me of my daughters night photo exhibition when she was at university doing her degree. The light is so special at night and gives a totally different mood to everything. I also agree a great meal with a good wine tops off a great evening adventure. Enjoy your free time away my friend.

    1. It was quite a bit of an adventure…and I’m happy that a few pictures came out quite well despite the darkness and foggy weather. The late dinner was a winner after all that walking 🙂

    1. It was a foolish undertaking (when I look at it now afterwards), but I was so determined to walk there and happy everything went well. Thanks for your kind comment, Karen 🙂

  2. What beautiful and festive night shots! You sound like me, if I have a photo mission on my mind, nothing will stop me :). And what a lovely ending to your story, crab cakes and good wine…perfect combination! Enjoy your weekend!

    1. I know, Susan. That’s how we are 🙂 Those crab cakes were heavenly – the blue crab season in MD lasts until December 15…so I was in luck!

    1. It was as misty/foggy as it gets 🙂 But it was a nice long walk and my (almost) new camera and the light-sensitive lens did quite a nice job. Happy weekend to you too!

  3. I love the photos! Especially the decorated trees and the Washington Monument! Gorgeous and so Christmasy! No wonder we get along so well. I am just a photo enthusiast too.

    1. Smiling at your last comment, Cindy 🙂 Even with the weather being really foggy, it was a great adventure…very festive and a bit mysterious too. Thanks Cindy!

    1. Yes, I was visiting ‘you’ and my old stomping grounds. It was a very hectic visit, D.C. style 🙂 You should definitely go and see the tree now that the big crowds are gone.

  4. So you’re just discovering you are a photographer…! Why is it we are generally the last to know? 😉 😉
    Wouldn’t that be wonderful; a trip to Africa to catch some images (to show us). Now, that seems so selfish of me, and yet, Helen, it would definitely be a win/win situation; for sure!
    Loved all your images. Watched your President; wonderful speaker, all from the heart. And think you are awfully brave to do as you did on a misty winter’s eve…

    1. Laughing so hard at your first comment 😀 I am hoping that I get another project that will take me close to the savannah again…I love the animals and getting a photo or two wouldn’t hurt 🙂 My nightly adventure was a bit foolish (I would have not recommended such a walk when I lived in the area for 16 years), but I’m happy it went okay and I got a few pictures…and the crab cakes were the best I’ve gotten in years! Thanks Carolyn XXX

  5. You’re definitely a committed shutterbug Helen! And thanks for seeing the Nation’s Capitol with fresh eyes and reminding me of fond family memories of going to see the trees. I grew up in Northern VA and appreciate the area more now when I visit than I did living there.

    1. Part of my stubbornness was also nostalgia – I lived in the area (MD side) for 16 years and worked not far from the White House. It was good to be back 🙂 Thanks for your kind comment, Brad. Have a great rest of the weekend.

    1. So true! And great word ‘spiel’, Nancy. I would have not recommended such a walk to anyone when I lived there in the area…and this was the first time I did it myself. Once probably is enough 🙂

    1. I too thought it was worth the effort when I sat there in my hotel restaurant with the crab cakes and wine…and saw a few pictures might be usable. The whole park near the ‘needle’ got this mysterious feel with the fog drifting around….almost like in old Sherlock Holmes movies 😀

  6. Aren’t you glad you went out on your evening photo walk?! Such great time for reflection, and taking in the little details while framing them through the camera’s eye. Wonderful photos– I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Capitol tree unlit, and you are right – it is still a beautiful sight.

    1. Sitting safely back at the hotel with my crab cakes, I felt so good about the walk! And since almost nobody was around, I could enjoy the holiday atmosphere (mixed with fog) in peace and quiet. I had also never seen the tree unlit, but surrounded by all the little trees it was quite a beauty. Have a beautiful rest of the weekend, Kat.

    1. Smiling. I hope what you say is true 🙂 I wish I would have had the time to go to the national mall in daylight, but I couldn’t get away for such a tour because of work.

  7. I love the picture of the giraffe! It looks like it’s enjoying a leisurely stroll.

    I never knew the National Christmas Tree was surrounded by little trees representing the states. It is very pretty, even without its lights on.

    Yup, you are definitely a shutterbug! Great pictures!

    1. That young giraffe walked right towards us in Nairobi National park last February, he was in no hurry at all 🙂 I found the National Christmas Tree and the little trees, all decorated differently, quite charming even without the lights. I was so lucky it didn’t start raining again while I was out…but the next morning it was pouring. Thanks for coming along on my nightly adventure, Barbara.

    1. Oh, you would point that out 🙂 I avoided telling him all the details and I was lucky that our son was here (in business, but stayed with us) when I came home, so there was some distraction. My husband’s hair is gray enough already 🙂 Thanks for coming along Christine.

      1. We had friends who took us to NYC one time and they told us about four men who went there on business. They had some things to deliver so they unloaded the car — and for some reason none of them thought to shut the one door. So the car door sat open for several hours in downtown NYC while they dropped off the stuff — and nothing was taken (never mind the car!) A security guard stationed near by came over and said he’d noticed the door open and kept an eye on the car for them.
        Amazing what you can get away with if people think you know what you’re about. 🙂

    1. Happy you enjoyed my nightly adventure, Sheryl. I give all the credit for the pictures to the new camera gear I got as a reward for finishing my huge project last spring 🙂

    1. I was so happy to be back at the hotel after the long walk, and to my surprise my (almost) new camera did perform quite okay despite the heavy fog. I worked when it was daylight…sunset in D.C. was around 4:45 p.m….so I didn’t get any daylight pictures this time.

  8. Passion for an art is a good thing, you are a terrific photographer, Helen, and it’s not only fun to see your photos, it’s educational too.
    The salt marsh project and all the creatures there are an ecological education.
    It must be fun to have seen the Christmas Tree in D.C., even though it wasn’t lit yet, that is part of the fun then to see how it looks lit later.

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Genie. The salt marsh and the conservation of all the different habitants around it is close to my heart. The “osprey project” brought some educational benefits to the neighborhood and many neighbors also pitched in to help fund it. It was fun to visit DC again after being away for 6 years now, but since the day is so short now, I had no opportunity to do any walks in the daylight. Wishing you a great week ahead.

    1. Normally ‘street photography’ involves people going on with their daily activities…these are more landscape and architectural photos. Thank you for visiting DC with me, Hariod. I wish you a wonderful week.

    1. Thank you, Val. It was an adventure…even the receptionist at the hotel advised me against it 🙂 But I’m happy some pictures came out okay. Have a beautiful week ❤

  9. Wow this post is a far cry from the salt marsh!! LOVED your pics of DC, Tiny, and even though that huge tree was unlit I thought it still very beautiful! Thank you for taking a “risk” and walking in areas that probably would have been safer in daylight. Gorgeous images and a huge thank you from me! ❤

    1. I am so happy you enjoyed my nightly adventure, Amy! I am happy everything went well…and it felt so good after airports and planes to just walk outside. I have never in my years up there seen the park so deserted…I was the only “tourist” there. There were a handful of people when I went back to the White House which looked so peaceful with all the Holiday lighting. Much love ❤

    1. I know, when I lived and worked there for 16 years, I would have advised against such a nightly adventure…but it was fun 🙂 Thanks Catherine!

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