Archive for the ‘Washington, D.C.’ Category

For one of my last York Dispatch assignments, I accompanied World War II veterans, Northeastern High School juniors and dozens of volunteers to Washington, D.C. The students had organized the entire trip so that local World War II veterans could visit the U.S. National World War II Memorial and see the changing of the guard in Arlington Cemetery, free of charge.

I shot photos and, despite some mic/audio problems, put together a video. Yet, although I spent a full 10 hours with the group, my favorite picture from the day was taken just before the buses departed the school.

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. Volunteer Sandy Brenner (in maroon shirt) hugs Mary Blymire goodbye before Brenner and World War II veteran Junior Aughenbaugh, right, all of Mt. Wolf, board one of two buses destined for Washington, D.C., on Saturday, May 7, 2011, in the Northeastern High School parking lot. Brenner was one of about 40 volunteers and Aughenbaugh was one of 57 York-area World War II veterans to visit the U.S. National World War II Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery free of charge as part of an "Honor Bus" trip organized by 12 Northeastern High School juniors.

It was a long trip and a good day.

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I’ll post spring-break-in-Delaware photos soon, but first here are some pictures I made of the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C.

© 2011 by Chris Dunn.

Jeff and I rushed back to D.C. on Sunday morning just to see the cherry blossoms. I was adamant about seeing them, since I’d never been in the area during the blossoming period and didn’t know when I would be again.

Getting to the National Mall was a nightmare. Jeff insisted that we’d be okay with driving (I’d thought we’d park at his house and take the Metro). Then we discovered that roads were blocked for the annual 10-miler, so we had to take the long way around (and again, and again) to get back to the Mall. Finding a parking space was a struggle only to be matched by dealing with the throngs of SLR- and stroller-wielding tourists (and realizing that we were among them, albeit without a stroller).

And then we finally arrived… and the cherry blossoms were white. The few pink-blossom trees were pretty pitiful. Major letdown.

© 2011 by Chris Dunn.

But hey, now I’ve finally seen the much-beloved cherry blossoms. Next time I get to see them, though, I hope they’re pink. Because any schoolchild who knows anything about the D.C. cherry blossoms knows that they’re supposed to be pink.

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I went to Silver Spring/Washington, D.C., for the day yesterday. One thing Jeff and I did was return to the National Building Museum to try to see the LEGO exhibit.

I really, really, really love LEGOs. When we were growing up, my younger brother and I were at peace only if we were drawing together or playing with LEGOs. Then, for about two years in high school, I devoted my free time (what little I had after schoolwork and the newspaper) to writing and producing a stop-motion LEGO movie. A friend/co-producer and I got so far as to record the full 100-something-page script with a cast of 30ish students, but the actual filming never took off.

Anyway. I really, really, really love LEGOs.

Unfortunately, the LEGO exhibit stipulates that tickets cannot be sold on-line or over the phone — and only so many tickets can be sold per hour. So when Jeff, his brother and I arrived at the museum in the late afternoon on Dec. 28, the tickets were sold out.

On the plus side, it was a beautiful day:

The National Building Museum, as seen from the Judiciary Square Metro station on Dec. 28. This photo was taken with an iPhone and processed with the ShakeIt app.

When Jeff and I returned yesterday, we were successful in getting tickets, admiring the LEGO sculptures and playing with millions of LEGO pieces available at the end of the exhibit.

On the minus side, it was an ugly day:

The National Building Museum, as seen from the Judiciary Square Metro station on Jan. 7. This photo was taken with an iPhone and processed with the ShakeIt app.

Long story short: Weather affects light, which affects mood, which affects photos.

(I really wish I’d been able to complete at least some decent footage for that LEGO movie.)

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90ish days of summer

Just a short and sweet post with some more photos from the summer!

Rehoboth Bay, just out of Dewey, Del.

Rehoboth Bay, just out of Dewey, Del.

Jeff and I spent three days in mid-July in the Delaware beach area — specifically, we went to the beach at Dewey, the boardwalk at Rehoboth and the state park in Lewes.

We didn’t take that many photos. The point of the three-day getaway was just that. To get away from the hubbub of the nation’s capital, from long hours editing photos, from hour-long commutes.

Just taking it easy and not worrying about getting really great shots — that was a new concept for me. Of course, I’ve shot photos for fun before (spring break, anyone?). But for the first time in a very long time, I was someplace new for more than a day and I wasn’t there specifically to take photos. So that was nice.

But, of course, Jeff and I brought our cameras anyway.

On the first night, after spending the afternoon at the beach, we went to Rehoboth Bay just outside or near Dewey. Which is where we caught a gorgeous bayside sunset.

You can view more photos here, of course.

I’m still behind on blogging all my photos from the summer and our three-day photo adventure in New York City. But I’ll post the rest of the beach weekend photos soon, and I hope to get everything else up within due time.

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90ish days of summer

After much agony, introspection and discussion, I am finally at peace with the fact that there are some things I just can’t understand at this point in my life.

Nothing heavy-handed here, folks. I’m just talking about a public fresh-food market. But that comes later in this entry.

On June 28, Jeff and I met my brother’s fiancee and one of the other bridesmaids at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. After we wandered around the largest Roman Catholic church in North America, we hopped on the Metro and explored Eastern Market, which had just reopened for the first time in more than two years.

But first, here’s the basilica, which is a short walk from the Brookland-Catholic University Metro stop on the red line.

The exterior of the basilica. Quite impressive.

The exterior of the basilica. Quite impressive.

Religious architecture has always bewildered me, but it sure is pretty.

I was surprised about access within the building. Jeff and I just walked right in and ambled around. I had the feeling that as long as we didn’t disrupt any of the ongoing services in a few of the sanctuaries or enter any private offices, we had free reign of the place. It was a Sunday, for goodness’ sake, and we were wandering the upper church and clicking our DSLRs.


View from the altar. I would be more descriptive, but religious architecture terminology is beyond me.

After taking a few photos, we went to Eastern Market, which is D.C.’s oldest and longest-running public fresh-food market. And here’s where I’m afraid I might get a lot of flak: I’m honestly not entirely sure what draws people there. (Forgive the superfluous use of adverbs.)

Opening weekend at Eastern Market. Photo by Jeff.

Opening weekend at Eastern Market. Photo by Jeff.

I don’t mean to come off as a non-native/bright-eyed intern who comes to town and tries to ingratiate herself with the locals (or, worse yet, poke fun at them). Nor do I want to seem like a blissful ignoramus whose mantra is “I don’t get it.” Rather, I relish learning, trying to understand and passing on knowledge and information. That’s just what I aim to do as a (photo)journalist.

But sometimes, I just don’t understand things as completely as I’d like.


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90ish days of summer

During coffee with Claire on June 25, Sen. McCaskill first welcomed everyone in the crowded conference room and then opened the floor for a few questions.

A woman named Hope Tinker introduced herself and asked a question.

I think Jeff’s ears must have pricked up, because later he said to me, “I wonder if Mary Beth is here!”

Jeff and Mary Beth Tinker are basically best friends.

Jeff and Mary Beth Tinker, in Sen. McCaskills office. Jeff usually looks this awkward in real life.

Jeff and Mary Beth Tinker, chattin' it up in Sen. McCaskill's office. Jeff usually looks this awkward in real life.

That’s right, the Mary Beth Tinker of Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent Community School District. The Mary Beth Tinker who wore a black armband to school in protest of the Vietnam War, was suspended from school, sued the district in defense of her First Amendment rights and won the case in the U.S. Supreme Court.


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90ish days of summer

On June 25, 2009, Jeff and I had coffee with Claire.

L-R: me, Sen. McCaskill and Jeff. This photo was taken by an official Senate photographer and e-mailed to me from Sen. McCaskills office.

L-R: me, Sen. McCaskill and Jeff. This photo was taken by an official Senate photographer and e-mailed to me from Sen. McCaskill's office. Jeff does not look this awkward in real life... generally.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has 9 a.m. coffee with constituents every Thursday while the Senate is in session. Upon learning of this weekly meeting via Twitter and finding out that I would generally have Thursdays off during my internship at washingtonpost.com, I knew that Jeff and I had to visit with Sen. McCaskill at some point.

So we did.

Some slight exaggeration may be involved here, but I partially credit Sen. McCaskill for embroiling me into Missouri politics and, what the heck, political reporting in general.


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90ish days of summer

Today was my last day as a photo intern at washingtonpost.com.


Today, I fielded photo requests and built photo galleries, edited and submitted some photos I took for a real estate project, turned in my security badge and Metro card… and that’s that.

That’s the end of these 90ish days of summer and my first journalism internship.

This is my pouty face. In this photo by Jeff, I am pouting for probably no reason whatsoever at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Right now, Im not pouting so much as Im sad this summer and internship are over.

This is my pouty face. In this photo by Jeff, I am pouting for probably no reason whatsoever at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Right now, I'm not pouting so much as I'm sad this summer and internship are over.

As I’ve blogged before, much of what I involved prepping photos for on-line use — to accompany articles and WaPo blogs — and building the many photo galleries. In addition, I worked on a few longer-term projects and shot two assignments.

But the vast majority of the internship was definitely sitting in front of a Mac and a PC and doing a lot of editing. Which is something I’m used to, having been the photo editor of The Maneater student newspaper, but that doesn’t mean I learned nothing this summer.

What I learned:

  • As my fellow intern Channing put it, being an intern means you’re there to do what you’re told — which means you do what other people don’t want to do. I hadn’t been on the absolute bottom rung of the ladder in a long time, but being there was a good experience. I quickly realized that that’s just how real life works and that my experiences at The Maneater, Philmont Scout Ranch and The Columbia Missourian aren’t exactly  reflective of that kind of corporate reality. (That said, the photo editors at washingtonpost.com are so friendly and helpful.)
  • Being an intern also means you should have a fast learning curve.
  • Multitasking is key. I’d like to think I was already good at working on three or four to-do items simultaneously, but fielding photo requests, editing photos, building galleries and researching for projects definitely put a more extreme spin on the art of multitasking.
  • Correcting white balance in Photoshop used to be the photo editing task I hated the most — and I’d always thought that having a background in color film printing gave me an edge on speedy, accurate color-correction. But after having to correct white balance, constantly and every day, I am so much more confident at this task. And I don’t dread it as much.

In short, I’m happy with how my summer internship turned out, although I do hope that, in future endeavors, I’ll spend more time behind a camera than in front of a computer. But whatever happens, I’m grateful and glad I had the opportunity to intern at washingtonpost.com.

On Monday, Jeff and I are returning to Columbia, where I’ll begin my last year as a photojournalism major at MU. This semester, I’ll be a staff photographer for The Columbia Missourian, as well as taking two linguistics classes (that I’ve wanted since sophomore year) and working on a long-term investigative/reporting project with broadcast student Theo Keith. (More details on that in a future blog post!)

It’s going to be busy, and you can expect a lot more regular updates to this blog than have happened this summer.

With that, I formally conclude this 90ish days of summer series.

Although, true to form, I still have a ton of photos to edit. Jeff and I have seen and done a lot in the past two months, and I simply haven’t had the time yet to edit all the photos. Among those takes are…

In the next few weeks, I’ll be editing and blogging these photos. The 90ish days of summer title will headline those entries, but apart from these backlogged posts, the series is officially concluded.

And now, for a weekend of packing and editing!

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90ish days of summer

Leave it to me to find a rodeo in Maryland.

Sunset at the J Bar W Ranch.

Sunset at the J Bar W Ranch.

I was born and raised in Texas, where every child grows up knowing how to square-dance, wearing cowboy/-girl boots and learning about the great massacre battle at the Alamo.

For the vast majority of my 20-something years on this earth, I’ve denied the now-very-evident presence of Texas blood in my veins. My favorite joke was (and still is, actually), “What happens when you split Alaska in half? [Pause] Texas becomes the third-biggest state!” I rarely eat beef, a meat not unique to Texas but certainly an integral component of Texan history and pride.

But ever since I moved to the East coast for the summer, I’ve realized more and more just how Southwestern/Texan I am.

(I also have some Midwestern tendencies, but for the purposes of this post, let’s stick to the Southwest. Or Texas, which might as well be its own region and could very well be its own country.)

For example: I want cowgirl boots. I like country music. Talking to some people inexplicably draws a Southern accent from my lips that I previously didn’t know was in existence. When cars on the Beltway are closer together than two car-lengths, all I can do is grit my teeth, ask, “Why are there OTHER CARS on the road?” and yearn for long stretches of straight, empty highway.

And then I started hankering for a rodeo.

The No.-1 ranking cowboy at the start of the rodeo. I love cowboys. Thats a general statement.

The No.-1 ranking cowboy at the start of the rodeo. I love cowboys. That's a general statement.


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90ish days of summer

I assure you, this blog is not dead, despite the fact that I haven’t posted anything in about two weeks.

The fact of the matter is, my photo internship at washingtonpost.com consumes the working week, and I’ve kept myself busy during the weekends. The problem is not a shortage of material. I have, in fact, about six photo entries and five other entries in queue. The problem is, the majority of those photos are not yet edited (some of them date back to late June, eek). As for the other entries — well, I’ll get to them! Cross my heart. Some of them will happen this week.

In the meantime, I’ve been accumulating material for a big potpourri post — basically, items that aren’t substantial enough to merit their own blog entry but that I’d nevertheless like to share with you. (Some of these are pettier than others.)

So, here’s some potpourri!

  • Three weeks left, and lots still to do

I have about three weeks left in Washington, D.C. It’s amazing how quickly this summer has flown. Of course, there is still plenty of work to be done…

Namely, I have three somewhat large-scale projects I really need to complete. Two of them are in conjunction with the other photo-pod interns and other .com departments. Both require a lot of research, too. All I can say is, thank goodness for Google Docs.

The other project is more weather-dependent and not as urgent as the other two. It’s rather disconcerting to see that the weather forecast for the next two weeks involves some significant chance of thunderstorms — every single day.

  • Metro etiquette — and other Metro notes

The Metro is an amazing Washington, D.C., institution. Without venturing into the various frustrations and annoyances that have resulted from the fatal June 22 collision on the red line, here are my general observations and thoughts.


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90ish days of summer

Two days later, I can now show you the photos I took for The Washington Post!

My supervisor Dee gave me permission to post my photos on Flickr and this blog (with some provisions). So, here are a few of my photos from Takoma Park’s 120th annual Independence Day parade. All photos are copyright 2009 by The Washington Post.

Takoma Park mayor Bruce Williams waves from the back of a 1903 Oldsmobile during Takoma Parks 120th annual Independence Day parade on July 4, 2009.

Takoma Park mayor Bruce Williams waves from the back of a 1903 Oldsmobile during Takoma Park's 120th annual Independence Day parade on July 4, 2009.

Maryland Governor Martin OMalley shakes hands with a shy five-year-old Jacob Petruzzelli of Silver Spring during Takoma Parks 120th annual Independence Day parade on July 4, 2009.

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley shakes hands with a shy five-year-old Jacob Petruzzelli of Silver Spring during Takoma Park's 120th annual Independence Day parade on July 4, 2009.


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90ish days of summer

Happy Fourth of July!

Fireworks over the National Mall on July 4, 2009. Taken from a downtown D.C. rooftop.

Fireworks over the National Mall on July 4, 2009. Taken from a downtown D.C. rooftop.

Although, technically now it’s the fifth of July…

Quite honestly, my memory of Fourths of July extends to the days of bicycle-and-firetruck parades around the neighborhood and then skips ahead to 2006. 2006 was my first year on staff at Philmont Scout Ranch, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t have the day off. For a few other staffers in the News & Photo Department, Independence Day was just another working day.

As for the next summer — also spent at Philmont — I’m not quite sure what I did during the day. But at night, some friends and I went to Eagle Nest to watch the fireworks show over Eagle Nest Lake. That night was also my first attempt to shoot fireworks.

My gear included:

  • my Canon Digital Rebel XTi (which is now broken beyond repair… poor baby)
  • my friend Greg’s 90-300mm f/4.5-5.6
  • a teeny tripod with bendy legs (kinda like this one)
  • the wall of a truck bed as my steady surface for the tripod

I shot on the bulb exposure — meaning, the shutter is open for however long I depressed the shutter button (sans a remote shutter release, which I still don’t have). Given all those factors, I’m still surprised my photos came out without any camera blur.

Fireworks over Eagle Nest Lake on July 4, 2007.

Fireworks over Eagle Nest Lake on July 4, 2007. The mountain in the background is Wheeler, the highest in New Mexico.

In 2008, I finally got the Fourth of July off from work. So my friend Stephen and I shot the annual Maverick Club Rodeo in Cimarron, the small village three miles from Philmont.

I’d never shot a rodeo before. But based on my experience shooting the Maverick Club Rodeo, I’d gladly cover another one, as long as it’s outdoors.

Then, of course, at night we all went to Eagle Nest Lake to shoot fireworks. This time, I shot with an XTi, my 70-200/2.8 and a decent tripod.

Unfortunately, I seem not to have saved those photos on my hard drive. Because my XTi started giving me ceaseless Error 99’s in April 2007, I used Stephen’s XTi to shoot the rodeo and fireworks. I’m guessing I somehow didn’t save them on my hard drive before deleting them from my computer forever.

Oh well.

Now, for 2009. I still don’t know if I can post the photos I took of the Takoma Park parade today for The Washington Post, but you can check out two of those photos in this washingtonpost.com photo gallery. (My photos are now the 11th and 20th photos n the gallery.)

However, here are some National Mall fireworks photos I shot from a downtown D.C. rooftop! This time around, I shot with my 30D, a Manfrotto tripod (from the office) and every lens I own.

The fireworks are launched over the Reflection Pool in the National Mall. At left, you can see the Washington Monument. Taken with the 16-35/2.8.

The fireworks are launched over the Reflection Pool in the National Mall. At left, you can see the Washington Monument. Taken with the 16-35/2.8.

Taken with the 50/1.8.

Taken with the 50/1.8.

Taken with the 70-200/2.8.

As always, you can view more photos HERE.

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90ish days of summer

ARLINGTON, Va. — This morning, I shot my first photo assignment for The Washington Post.

Today is the Fourth of July, which means that 233 years ago, a group of colonial rebels signed a piece of parchment that confirmed their resolve to break from their parent country and create a new nation. This also means that today in the U.S. of A., people celebrate by eating as many German/Austrian hot dogs as they can stomach, setting off Chinese fireworks and watching (insert country of origin) parades.

So I shot Takoma Park’s 120th annual Independence Day parade for The Washington Post.

I originally thought about taking photos and recording sound so I could create an audio slideshow. Then I realized that maintaining consistent levels while recording a parade would be above my learning curve at this point. So instead, I asked my supervisor Dee if I could shoot the parade for a gallery. To ensure I wouldn’t be stepping on the Post‘s toes in doing so, she contacted the Post.

Before I knew it, I received an e-mail from one of the photo editors at the Post. Shooting the parade was a legitimate Post photo assignment.

Right now, I’m trying to figure out if posting photos (published and/or unpublished) on my Flickr and this blog would be within the Post‘s copyright and ownership policies, which is why you don’t see here any of the photos I took this morning.

But in the meantime, I can direct you to this washingtonpost.com photo gallery, which features my photos in the 9th and 18th spots (as of 8 p.m., at least — they’ll be adding more photos after the fireworks show tonight).

I hope I can share more photos with you on this blog and my Flickr! As it is, though, I’m so excited to have a photo byline again, and plan to pitch more photo ideas and hopefully get more opportunities and fieldwork this summer.

(Why the ARLINGTONG, Va. dateline? Because I’m in my last half-hour or so for the day in the washingtonpost.com newsroom.)

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90ish days of summer

On June 21, Jeff’s dad took us to Great Falls (National) Park.

The park is an 800-acre plot divided by the Potomac River. Most of the park is in Virginia, and that’s the side we stayed on.

Panorama of the Potomac from the second viewpoint on the Virginia side.

Panorama of the Potomac from the second viewpoint on the Virginia side.

Let me tell you — Great Falls is the strangest national park I’ve ever been to.

As you may have read, Jeff, Esten and I visited four national parks and one state park this spring break, all of which were well west of the Mississippi River (Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas, Grand Canyon National Park, Arches National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison and the Great Sand Dunes). So far this summer, I’ve been to three national parks east of the Mississippi: Wolf Trap, the Great Smokies, and now Great Falls.

(Note: The National Mall and other “national parks” within the D.C. metro area don’t count as national parks — not in my book, anyway.)

When we hopped out of the car at Great Falls, I immediately noticed picnic tables. And volleyball pits. And people barbecuing and playing Frisbee and walking their dogs.

It looked a lot more like a big neighborhood park than a national park.

I guess what I’m saying is, I’m used to national parks being something like this: Two-lane highway, visitors center, barren parking lot, more driving, then WHAM-BAM! Grand vistas and landscapes are within sight.

Granted, the spring break trip was in the West and still during the cold season. And granted, the Grand Canyon did not have a barren parking lot.

Still. Great Falls weirded me out a bit. I’m not saying that its recreational offerings are bad — just not what I’d become used to.

That said, the Potomac was pretty grand.

Panoramic view of the Potomac from the third viewpoint on the Virginia side.

Panoramic view of the Potomac from the third viewpoint on the Virginia side.

Taken from the Fishermans Eddy -- not quite a sanctioned viewpoint, but not blocked-off, either. Its located between the second and third official viewpoints on the Virginia side.

Taken from the "Fishermans Eddy" -- not quite a sanctioned viewpoint, but not blocked-off, either. It's located between the second and third official viewpoints on the Virginia side.

As always, you can view more photos HERE.

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90ish days of summer

I am home in Silver Spring, Md., safe and sound after almost three hours of transit. Had I left the washingtonpost.com office a half-hour earlier, I might not have been home yet.

At 5 p.m., when I was logging off my work computers and saying goodbye to my supervising editor, two trains collided on the Washington Metrorail’s red line, between the Fort Totten and Takoma stations.

A detail of part of the red line, where the two-train collision occurred at 5 p.m.

A detail of part of the red line, where the two-train collision occurred between Fort Totten and Takoma at 5 p.m. today.

As you can see in the above map, the Silver Spring station is two stops past Fort Totten on the red line. According to the broadcast news, the two trains were headed toward D.C. — the opposite direction from which the train I would have been on would have been coming.

So even if I had left the office early, I wouldn’t have been on the trains that collided. But I would still have had to evacuate whatever train I were on, since according to the radio news reports, the entire red line is shut down.

Nevertheless, when I first heard about the collision — at 5:45 p.m. when I left a very congested Metro Center out of frustration — I didn’t know which direction the trains had been heading. So my first thought was, “I could have been on either of those trains.”

My second thought was, “I wish I’d been on or near either of those trains, and uninjured and with a camera.”

I read once that while most humans run from a crisis, only three kinds of people run toward it: the police, medical workers and journalists. I can’t honestly say I’m proud of the way tragedy and disaster attract journalists like bees to honey, but really, it’s a knee-jerk reaction. And if journalists can’t be at the scene, they often feel some dredge of guilt or regret that they couldn’t make it there.

That’s kind of what I’m feeling now, and every other time I’ve been close to a breaking news scene.

What else am I feeling? A lot of frustration with the Metro’s inability to communicate with commuters in the stations. It wasn’t until I emerged from the Metro Center station and called Jeff that I found out a major accident with multiple fatalities had occurred. I’m not saying that Metro station managers should have told commuters exactly what happened — but commuters should have been informed that the entire red line was shut down.

As it is, we were instead told to expect “major delays” and that a “turning incident” had occurred.

But I’m by no means educated enough on the D.C. Metro system and its history to say anything else about its failure to communicate and coordinate.

That said, I’m glad I’m safe and home, and my thoughts and prayers go out toward all the families affected by a tragedy that should never have happened.

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90ish days of summer

The shot glasses Jeff and I bought. Guess whose is whose.

The shot glasses Jeff and I bought at the Newseum store. Guess whose is whose.

Last week, I wrote a post called “Newseum: FAIL,” in which I scolded the Newseum for using what appeared to be a photoshopped photo on the cover of its visitors guide.

That was the most-read page or post on this blog, ever, except for my “About Chris Dunn” page. It attracted the most comments, too, even though I wrote an update/correction before any of the comments were submitted.

It still remains to be seen if my conclusion holds any water and if the photographer indeed edited that streetlight out. But I wanted to visit the Newseum to give it a fair assessement on the basis of its exhibits and not its visitors guide.

So last Saturday, Jeff and I went.


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90ish days of summer

Just a big ol’ dish of D.C. potpourri:

TODAY is my first sick day this summer. I’m not sure where I caught this minor bug, but I have a slight fever, my eyes hurt, my nose is runny, the back of my throat is tickly and I feel generally fatigued.

I think part of it has to do with the nature of my internship at washingtonpost.com: I spend almost entirely eight hours on the computer every day I’m in the office. Now, I am accustomed to spending inordinate numbers of hours on my laptop every day, but not eight hours at a time and day after day. So even though my monitor’s backlight is dimmed as I type this post, my eyes hurt just looking at it.

TODAY is also roughly the 20th anniversary of the crackdown in Tienanmen Square. I say “roughly” because the crackdown began on the evening of June 3 and ended sometime on June 5.

So much has already been said about how the Chinese government has deleted the crackdown out of its history books and shut down foreign news Web sites and other sites such as Flickr and Twitter, so I won’t add redundant noise to that conversation. Suffice it to say that of course, as a journalist in the Western hemisphere and a fan of the First Amendment, I think it’s despicable that the flow of information and the people’s inherent right to protest and free press are being disrupted and restricted.

Some interesting links relating to Tienanmen Square:

TOMORROW, I will be at the office at 8:30 a.m. to do a special gallery, but I’ll be getting out early. Some other interns — from the Post and other news outlets — and I will be going to the Sculpture Garden for wine and jazz during tomorrow’s happy hour!

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90ish days of summer

I’ve just completed my first week as a photo/multimedia intern at washingtonpost.com!

As I previously blogged, the .com newsroom is going to take some getting used to because it’s unlike any other I’ve worked in before. But I am definitely getting there and now am a lot more comfortable working with the different programs and processes the way the actual photo editors do.

On a somewhat related note, the whole eight-hours-a-day/40-hours-a-week, being-in-the-city-all-summer thing will also take some getting used to.

You’d think big cities wouldn’t be an issue. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas, where I spent the first 18 years of my life — but ever since I graduated from high school three years ago, I haven’t been in Houston for more than three weeks at a time. The schoolyear is spent in Columbia, Mo. (population: 100,000ish, which to me is tiny), and the summers were spent in the New Mexico mountains… until now.

So for three summers, my office was 137,500 acres of rugged mountains, and in every job I’ve held except one, I was generally in charge of my own schedule and could determine what tasks I needed to accomplish on a day-by-day or week-by-week basis.

Now, the real world strikes, and I’m doing my best to keep up. I can’t lie — I’m a little homesick for mountains and trees. Those kinds of surroundings can’t be replaced by tall buildings or even the White House and Capitol Building. But I am learning a lot and slowly-but-surely getting used to working in an office for eight hours a day. And don’t get me wrong: I’m definitely glad I have this internship!

And now, TGIF!

I think Jeff and I are going to make strawberry shortcake tonight. Tomorrow, we’re going to hit up the Newseum. When we return from that, I will certainly be sure to qualify it as a failure or non-failure.

(That’s a joke. Laugh! Ha ha ha!)

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90ish days of summer

Today was my first day as a photo/multimedia intern at washingtonpost.com.

After the intern orientation wherein all 20-something interns for WP.com, Express and the Slate Group learned some basic facts about the company, etc., we split up and spent the rest of the day with our departments and supervisors.

I have worked in two newsrooms before — at the Maneater student newspaper and at the Missouri statehouse bureau for The Columbia Missourian — but was in for a surprise today when I got to know the WP.com newsroom a little more. For one thing, it’s very quiet, and only about half the chairs in the multimedia and metro sections of the newsroom were occupied.

For another, I learned pretty quickly that, as far as photo at the .com goes, they take what’s given to them (by other .com people or the print Post) and work to put it on-line. In the other newsrooms in which I’ve worked, the pace was almost always frenetic and frantic. Reporters and photographers alike were shuffling or rushing in and out: in to produce, submit or edit content and out to get that content. Unless it was a slow news day, the newsrooms were always a little loud and fast-paced.

But the WP.com newsroom — again — is quiet. And the photo editors wait to receive requests and content before they process anything. It’s unlike any newsroom I’ve encountered (to be fair, I haven’t encountered that many).

The bottom line is, unless I take my own initiative on projects and stories I want to pursue, my responsibilities would consist mostly of working on Faces of the Fallen, putting photo galleries together and fielding photo requests.

My plan for the summer? Get as much work and experience in the field as possible, but get some more experience at the desk and in the newsroom, as well.

My supervisor Dee seems very open to my both spending time in the newsroom and taking initiative with stories (as long as I don’t tread on the print Post‘s toes), which I definitely appreciate and am excited about.

Now I just need to figure out what I want to do!

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90ish days of summer

Okay — the Newseum itself is not a failure.

The last time I visited the Newseum was in 2001, and that was before it moved and upgraded to its current location on Pennsylvania Avenue. So I can’t really qualify the renowned journalism museum as a failure if I haven’t even visited the new facility (yet).

More accurately, the Newseum visitors guide is a failure.

Here’s the cover:

The cover looks nice. It’s got D.C. traffic going through on Pennsylvania Avenue. It’s got some nice evening light. Most importantly, it’s got the First Amendment on a slab for everyone to see.

Unfortunately, the cover is a gross misrepresentation of how the Newseum actually appears.

I’ve got proof:

This photo was taken at 16mm (a very wide focal length), from the median of Pennsylvania Avenue.

This photo was taken at 16mm (a very wide focal length), from the median of Pennsylvania Avenue, on May 21.

What’s the big deal?


There’s almost no way to avoid that damn streetlight. Here’s the only shot I could get of the First Amendment without that streetlight slicing into it:

Also taken at 16mm.

Also taken at 16mm.

But somehow, the photographer who shot the cover of the Newseum visitors guide didn’t get the streetlight in his photo.

Jeff and I discussed the matter when we first saw the visitors guide and noticed the streetlight was missing. We considered that perhaps the cover was an artist’s rendering, not unlike those that architects and designers draw up before a building is constructed.

But then we saw the detail in the background of the photo (example: the leafless tree, the appropriate exponential spacing between the time-elapsed cars), which you can view for yourself here. Then we searched the brochure for photo and other credits, which we found on the inside of the back cover. According to those credits, “Newseum exteriors, Annenberg Theater, Pennsylvanue Avenue Entrance, Today’s Front Pages” are by a Sam Kittner.

I googled Sam Kittner and found that he is definitely not an architect or illustrator, but rather a photographer who relies heavily on exposure trickery and post-production editing. The cover is definitely a photograph and not an illustration or artist’s rendering.

It is then very clear that the absence of a streetlight in the Newseum’s visitor guide cover is possible in only two ways:

  1. Kittner took the photo before the streetlight was installed.
  2. Kittner edited the streetlight out after taking the photo.

Option (1) is possible… except also according to the inside of the guide’s back cover, the guide was printed or at least final-edited in March 2009. So unless the city were doing some streetlight renovations before Kittner’s deadline for the March 2009 publication, the only option left is (2).

Therefore, I conclude that the front cover of the visitors guide to a first-class journalism museum has been photoshopped to remove a streetlight that in reality stands in front of the First Amendment.

If that’s not a glowing demonstration of photo editing ethics on a journalism museum publication, I don’t know what is.

What a shame.

  • UPDATE (11:18 p.m. EST, May 25, 2009)

Okay, I stand corrected.

Option (1) appears to be the winner here.

As Joel has pointed out using the below image, the streetlight was not installed until at least shortly after the Newseum’s new facility was completed.

So perhaps Kittner’s photo on the museum’s visitors guide cover was taken before the streetlight was installed. At this point, I’m not going to offer any further speculation on that matter.

On a related note, a Twitter debate ensued my blog post, and several other MU journalism students (@mcavanah86, @jmsummers and @pfal) argue that the visitors guide is essentially advertising and that using photoshopped images is permissible for advertising.

I don’t disagree with that. But if Kittner’s photo were edited, I don’t think a journalism museum should have used it. Commercial purposes or not, a journalism museum should uphold the principles on which the journalism profession is based — and that includes not using photos with objects edited out of them.

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