There are these little bugs that swarm around you as you walk down the dark treelined path that runs the length of the reflecting pool. I would not call it a short walk between both ends of the pool especially if you have to walk it on this hot and humid night. With the heavy gear I have on my back, a camera hanging on my neck, tripod in one arm, and one hand fanning away those little flying buggers, it was almost a miserable walk. Those bugs – there were easily hundreds of them – like to fly into your face, so you have to keep your head down and maybe even hold your breath occasionally and keep your mouth closed or you’d risk the chance of inhaling them.
It was a hot night tonight. The ride on the Metro was not comfortable either; with the AC not turned on, you try to get into the most comfortable position. I was sweating under my clothes and in my face, beads of sweat running down the sides of my neck and back. I changed from the summer skirt I was wearing earlier this day to a pair of jeans thinking I’d be more comfortable shooting photos in it, in case I had to lie on the ground, trudge up a hill, jump into the river or something of that sort to get a shot. Maybe not a good call in this hot weather but at least I have some protection against those pesky mosquitoes.
I don’t know what I was thinking but I was surprised to see the place was not only swarming with mosquitoes, gnats and fireflies, but also with people, even at night. It was just unbelievably infested with tourists. They sat around the fountains of the World War ll Memorial, lied on the benches and the concrete of the Washington Monument, huddled at the foot of Lincoln, and there were droves of them ambling down the Mall area in such a slow pace you’d think you’re in a funeral procession.
I was not the least bit inspired to take photos tonight, not because of the people, but because I think I got too spoiled by the grand architecture and beauty of Europe that it made everything I saw tonight pale in comparison. Twilight did not impress either; the skies were too hazy to deliver that nice blue I usually get in Europe. And with the light not lasting very long, it was limiting to allocate time between locations in a short span of time. So I merely did what I went there for – set up tripod, focused, (barely) composed, clicked that shutter, done.
A nice full moon even showed up tonight – from where I was standing, it sat on the far right of the Washington monument right beside an unfamiliar building. I tried to find a good angle to include it in my composition, but eventually gave up when all attempts seemed to be futile. I am sure other photographers in other parts of the country or the world have put it into good use.
Of course there were the classic shots you can’t seem to escape from. The way I see it, with how they’ve designed the place, you’re almost forced to stand in the same spot as everyone else. I still tried to come up with something different, and perhaps that alone matters. And looking back at it, I think it counts a lot especially considering all the distractions: people, weather, noise, traffic, even sirens went off all over the place. In fact, walking back to the Metro, we noticed a fire truck and first responders on the scene of 14th and Philadelphia. Rubberneckers milled around the crosswalk of that busy intersection to find two people lying unconscious on the ground, apparently run over by a vehicle. That crosswalk was an accident waiting to happen anyway; we were just there a couple of hours ago, barely making it across within the 12-second crossing time. There was still a shoe on the middle of the road about 50 feet from where the casualties lay. It was a sad scene, definitely not a good way to end a night for anybody.
How I don’t miss the hustle and bustle of the big city! I am glad to live where I live.