Monday, September 21, 2009

George Washington's Mt. Vernon 18th Century Fair

We spent Saturday & Sunday both at George Washington's Mt Vernon, at which the annual 18th Century Fair was taking place. I took the DP2 and DP1, no DSLR, the first DP2 photos are online on flickr, more to come. The fair is a combination 'history' event, with some craftspeople, re-enactors, demonstrators, and of course the host, the retired General and President George Washington

Gen. Washington was played by Dean Malissa, whose website is here

He gave a splendid 45-minute account of his life, the early years in which he was the leader of the Virginia colonial militia, the events leading up to the Revolutionary War, and through to his retirement at Mt Vernon after his service as first US President. Malissa did a marvelous job IMHO as speaker and actor, the kids watching were really enthralled... I searched for who this actor was (Dean Malissa) today and see that he has portrayed Washington in movies as well as in many situations at Mt. Vernon and even official events the White House.
One of my photos on flickr:

See more by going to

The boatride on the Potomac was also very enjoyable on a lovely, sunny, but not too warm day on Sunday.

I'm fond of this event at Mt. Vernon, I once participated myself as a spinner and wool dyer and demonstrator.. In preparation I learned a lot about Washington's life and the estate before the event, as it's continual "demo" to the public when you're a participant... some spectators are so far removed from history and craft knowledge they think you need to kill the sheep to get the wool
This was one of my final craft shows around 2000, and I've always considered it as going out in fine style. I was in costume, it was hot and sunny, and really quite a strain, but indeed a priviledge to be there.. even if I didn't sell much yarn and knitwear LOL. Lydia also participated dressed in a colonial costume that dated back to mother's and my spinning demonstrations around the US Bicentennial.

A selection of photos are online at for more characters too in addition to Gen. Washington... the juggler, sword swallower and medicine man in addition to the French lacemaker whom I remember from the year I participated in the Fair. Re General Washington, it's interesting that's how he referred to himself rather than "President." He even spoke in an interesting accent... I bet researched.. kind of combination of what I'd think of as "southern" and US and somewhat "British"

Mt Vernon has added an extensive museum of Washington artifacts and illustrative history; the museum is very well done both in layout and in content. What many do not realize about Washington is his leading role in what is called in US the French and Indian Wars, aka in Europe the Seven Years War.. in which he acted in effect as one of the main "British" military leaders although he never held ... or could hold... a British commission.. being an "American" ... a "colonist." The museum shows the importance of this period in his life, which led to his fame in the 18th century as a military leader and as some degree of preparation for leading the American Revolutionary army.

We also found several photos of Nick's mother's cousin Charles Cecil Wall, who was the Resident Director of Mt Vernon for many decades.. pictured with everyone from General Charles deGaulle to Price Charles and other foreign dignitaries. We must show photos of the photos to Nick's mother.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Deer in OUR backyard

On this rainy, cool Friday morning, I looked out a window and saw this buck in OUR backyard
I grabbed the only camera at hand with a tele- lens, the Pentax K20D and went to the backyard deck. Managed this one photo before he hopped over the neighbor's fence and in to another backyard. I've seen females and does in our circle before, but not a large buck. My other classic 'close encounter' and photo of an antlered male was at my parents in 2005
a Sigma SD10 photo through the porch glass.

All members of the entire neighborhood herd dine on cracked corn at my parents daily now. Last weekend I took a DP2 photo of 5 which is on flickr... but no antlers...

Deer spotting is routine at their house.

I am reminded of Lydia's phrase last year in Big Meadows after seeing probably a hundred deer ... one becomes "deered out."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal historic site, national park, Potomac, MD

Sunday we continued our explorations of national parks around the Potomac River. This time instead of in Virginia, we were on the Maryland side, at the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal site in Potomac, Maryland. The "Powtomack Canal" begun by George Washington and others didn't last long on the Virginia side, but the C&O Canal which was then built on the Maryland side was in use from Cumberland, MD to Georgetown, DC, until the early 20th century. Some info links, park service: and
We intend to explore further north along the Potomac river to Harpers Ferry this fall (fall color and fall photo opportunities).

The light is totally wrong for late afternoon/early evening photos on the Potomac from the Maryland side... you're essentially shooting into the setting sun. Some initial DP2 photos are online at This is our favorite thus far

We walked I think about a hot, humid mile to the Olmstead Island overlook and back (where the above photo was taken). Nick says it was more like 2 miles, but I think it just felt that way ... plus he was carrying my camera bags for me. I had the SD14 with 10-20mm EX DC lens and the DP2 in use, plus I carried the DP1... I did a few shots with the Pentax K20D but they're still fuzzy and I cannot figure out why.. and whether I should take it to Seattle and Mr. Rainier.

I'm actually rather eager for cooler weather for our walks, as well as for the fall color. I'm trying to increase what I call my 'endurance' for the Mt. Rainier park treks.

Deer everywhere continued

On Sunday Nick and I visited with my parents. I helped put out the cracked corn ... we didn't see any deer in the yard but as soon as we were inside, the 'guests' came for dinner. Five of them: 2 mothers with 3 still-spotted fawns. They sucked up the corn then sauntered off. I couldn't open a door to get any photos, they would have bolted at the sound. So this shot is through the porch glass windows with sun reflections
Four at the table, one eating hosta by the bushes

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Deer everywhere

One non-photo item I haven't mentioned is the profusion of deer we see on our evening walks and drives around in Great Falls by the Potomac, through McLean and Vienna, VA area. Just everywhere.. on lawns, in the woods, by the roadside. In Great Falls the other evening, there were herds of 8-10 deer at least, one 'guarded' by two young antlered guys... probably about 2 year olds judging from the antlers. On Route 193 or on Beulah Rd if I'm driving I'm always watchful of what might jump out onto the road!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

More Sigma DP2 & Pentax K20D experiments on the Potomac

Another early evening walk by the Potomac River, with Pentax K20D and Sigma 15-30mm EX DG lens and Pentax DFA 100mm F2.8 lens; plus Sigma DP2 used at the same time. Photos on
The K20D doesn't seem to like big dynamic range shots, ie big sky plus darker tree areas, so I've been trying out the Cokin P-series graduated filter ND4 (06). I like the results on the Sigma 15-30mm EX DG shot (IMGP2407). I didn't use the grad filter with the tele- Pentax 100mm lens when shooting the trees on the MD shore across the river.
The DP2 continues to seem 'blue' or cold in color tone to me at its defaults, ie shooting it on auto white balance, doing minimal editing in SPP3.5.2. Actually the DP2 seems to me quite different from the SD14's more golden/yellow/green tones or the DP1 which mine at least seems to be warmer (more pink, magenta). But all these color variables I can easily edit to preferences in SPP3.5.2. I don't try to match the photos, I'm just learning what the cameras will tend to produce on output.
I'm thinking a lot about the light and nature situations we'll see in Washington state on the mid-October trip. And trying to decide what gear to take, cameras and lenses. I don't know what to expect on the 2 days at Mt. Rainier National Park (after the Seattle reunion we'll drive down there and hopefully stay at the Longmire lodge). Big skies for sure. Snow? (better not) Autumn colors (hopefully!)