I debated for a long time about whether or not to process this photo as a black and white or to keep it color. In the end I decided that the beautiful paint job on this car deserved a color photo.
Living in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria has given me some new scenery on my walks with the kids, and the bold mural painted on the side of Cheesetique’s building is just one of the many sights.
I knew I wanted to photograph the mural ever since I first saw it, but it seems that to reveal the whole thing would make me some sort of photographic copy machine. So I’ve let the thought percolate for a while. Do I look for some interesting light? Light it myself? Use it as a portrait backdrop (keeping that thought in mind for the future)? What?
Then the other day it dawned on me, clear as day. Shoot some abstract details. Duh.
I took many shots of difference parts of the mural, which includes the Washington DC skyline, a train, and a derby horse with jockey. I figured the DC skyline made sense, and I knew that Potomac Yard used to be a huge railroad yard, but the racehorse?
I did a little digging into the history of Del Ray, and discovered that the St. Asaph Racetrack (closed since 1905) used to be quite the scandalous affair. The track no longer exists, but you can tell where it used to be from the diagonal streets that enclosed it (E. Mt Ida & E. Randolph Avenues).
Having recently moved from Old Town to the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, I’ve had a change in scenery. Walks with my kids down brick sidewalks used to pass colonial and federal town homes. Now we walk the tree-lined streets of Del Ray, where bungalows and Craftsman revivals are more the norm. There are modern buildings as well, in the case of this building which is located just across the street from Swing’s Coffee.
I’ve been keeping an eye on architecture lately, and the numerous styles around town make for varied practice as I get more into this genre of photography. Time of day is an interesting thing when it comes to architectural photography. As always, early morning and late afternoon light is great, but I’ve noticed that you can get interesting shadows and light on buildings when the sun is higher in the sky. For instance, the shot above was made after the sun had been up for about 2 hours. Even later, midday sun presents its normal challenges but depending on the style of building, good architectural shots can still be made.
One of my goals when starting this blog a little over a year ago was to eventually highlight local business owners and their businesses. It’s been a busy year, but I’m finally getting around to making this happen.
I reached out to Catherine and Margaret Portner after discovering their business through social media. The sisters are the great-great-granddaughters of Robert Portner, who owned the largest pre-Prohibition brewery in America. His brewery was located in what is now known as Old Town Alexandria, and the sisters have decided to launch Portner Brewhouse in Alexandria, 100 years after the original brewery closed its doors.
Portner Brewhouse will include an onsite brewery as well as a full-service restaurant specializing in German fare. Catherine is the beer guru and Margaret is the mastermind behind the food. The sisters have a lot of awesome ideas for the business including a craft beer test kitchen and mug club membership; in addition, they will be resurrecting some of Robert Portner’s recipes and plan to decorate the brewhouse with original Portner artifacts.
The idea I pitched to them was to do a shoot in the space that would become Portner Brewhouse, and then another shoot once construction is completed. A “Before & After,” if you will. The brewery and restaurant is set to open for business by the end of summer, so you all can expect the “After” post to appear this fall. That is, if I can avoid spending too much time hanging out at Portner Brewhouse!
For more information, visit their website.
There’s an old ice house that has been repurposed as an office for an architectural firm in town. It’s a fascinating building (one that I’d love to see the inside of some day), and the door latch isn’t something you see every day. The late afternoon light was hitting it just right when I snapped this photo.
Old Town is full of little surprises tucked away behind every corner. It took me months of walking around town to notice this mailbox located at the northeast corner of Wilkes and S. Fairfax.
This water pump is located just beyond the southern end of Lee Street, next to the community garden. The early morning light really emphasized the shape of the lettering and the wear of the paint.
There’s another one located near the lighthouse in Jones Point Park—perhaps the subject of a future photograph.
It seems like hardly a day has gone by without rain these past few weeks. Yesterday was no exception, and in fact, it hardly stopped raining all day. Regardless, my wife and I try to get the kids out for walks because sitting around the house starts to get pretty rough.
So we headed out during a bit of a lull in the downpour, armed with umbrellas, toys, and of course, my Nikon D200. I never really worry about this camera when the weather is bad because it’s built like a tank. I actually froze the shutter on it once when shooting birds on a 15ºF day a couple of winters ago.
I get a little bit excited about heading out during crappy weather because it tends to make for better photos. Clouds are often more dramatic, and in the case of rainy days, colors tend to look more saturated. Such was the case with this historic home on beautiful Lee Street in Old Town.
I wouldn’t mind owning a home with a lantern on the front some day.
On one of our evening walks with the kids, we passed this house that we’ve passed at least a hundred times before. Except this time it looked markedly different.
“Was that wall always like that?” I asked my wife. Definitely not we decided.
I had to do a Google maps street view search to even recall what it looked like before (white plaster or something), but now the original brick was exposed in all its glory- and with a surprise. I love these old advertisements that were just painted right onto buildings. It reminds me a bit of the sign painted onto the cliff above Harpers Ferry (photo at right). Lasting impressions from a time long gone.