With the Fuji X-T1 at National Harbor

June 19, 2014

Today, I spent a few hours at National Harbor, playing with the Fuji X-T1. For me, National Harbor is superficially beautiful, but deeply inside, it's perfectly ugly. Everything is made-up, somewhat reminiscent of Las Vegas (with true gambling to arrive soon). None of the buildings, art pieces or other artifacts really fit together. Visually and photographically it's a nightmare. Acustically as well, as there are speakers all over the place playing music and ads all the time. I must admit it looks expensive (construction was in the billions), but if you spend a few hours there, you'll notice that it's shallow and boring. Maybe I'm too negative, but somehow I don't like it.

Since my last visit a few "attractions" have been added. A colorful playground for the kids, an antique carousel, a huge TV screen, and a ferris wheel next to the Potomac River. But the real highlight is still the nearby Gaylord Hotel (what a name ;-), with its enormous congress center, huge glass front and 20 story atrium. The lobby is upstairs and nobody minds if you step into the front door and take a look yourself. Tip: use one of the glass elevators, get up to the 19th floor and enjoy the views.

Getting good pictures is a challenge, but I had to practice with the X-T1, so I started right away with a classical, highly simplified primary color composition, that would have even pleased Harald Mante:

Not one of my usual subjects, but it was a start.

An interesting detail of National Harbor is the sculpture "The Awakening". After being moved from its old location at Hains Point to National Harbor it became a bit hard to photograph since it's placed in a busy area, surrounded by lots of things that tend to sneak into the images. With the Capital Wheel in the background, there was the opportunity for an interesting juxtaposition:

I was wondering if the 18-55 mm kit lens would be good for some shallow depth of field, so I tried that same idea with a much closer (and more beautiful) subject and a larger aperture:

You see, it works! Maybe a bit too easy for a shallow depth of field test, as I would have probably gotten the same result with a smaller sensor camera. Anyway, what matters is the result :-) Of course, I would have rather shot the scene with the 1.2/56 lens, but I haven't been able to get my hands on one yet. And the (otherwise fantastic) 1.4/23 was not the right tool in this situation. 

We went into the Gaylord Hotel and took some snaps here as well:

As you might have noticed, there is some threedimensionality in all these pictures. One of the basic rules that I use in most of my photographs is "add depth", and it's actually one of the four basic rules of the "HASCOII AD BAA LIE" composition scheme. Over the years, it has become an always subconscious design element whenever I photograph. There are different ways to add depth, for example linear perspective, as in image #1 and #4, or overlap as in #2 and #3. But the idea is always the same: add a sense of depth to your images because it's lost when your camera only sees what you see with one eye instead of two. Make this become a habit, it almost always helps your pictures.