Take a (photo)walk on the smile side

I took a walk outside my comfort zone on a Sunday morning.  I commmitted to participating in the annual Clickin Moms photowalk in Washington, D.C.  This meant I had to get out of my jammies and get dressed before noon! 

The easiest way into downtown D.C. is the Metro.  And since it was a Sunday, tourists were onboard.  The two little girls were pulling out all sizes of stuffed animals and squealing with delight as they played.  I really don't know how their little backpacks contained all those animals! Seizing the opportunity, I discretely fired off a couple shots.  The girls and their antics were the perfect prelude to a perfect day!  (Can you see my unintended selfie?)

Clickin Moms

Clickin Moms is an online community of women photographers. Most seem to be moms with small children; however, moms of all ages are members. The organization is totally "ace", ranging from photography newbies to pros. (I learned to use "ace" as a top-notch adjective from my U.K. colleagues.)  You can expect to find high quality educational offerings to improve your photography, beautiful photo examples from members, and a great willingness to share or teach new knowledge. The magazine, Click, is inspiring in its beauty and information.  San Antonio, TX is hosting this year's Clickin Moms Convention, "Click Away".  So, if you are looking for a low-key, high quality, and very valuable way to learn, or improve your photos, I highly recommend this photography community.

What a smile can do

Seven photographers, one 5 year old boy with a toy camera (he had some great shots), and one patient husband met at Ben's Chili Bowl on a bright and warming morning. The restaurant had not yet opened, so most of the group settled to take photos of the famous restaurant through the window.  I hung back as the group headed down the street, and peered through the door.  I must have looked quite pathetic, even with my sweet smile, because the manager opened the door and let me in to take a quick snap.

Mom photographers shoot through the glass into Ben's Chili Bowl while our 5 year old photographer investigated the painted panda. (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2015, Washington, D.C.

Mom photographers shoot through the glass into Ben's Chili Bowl while our 5 year old photographer investigated the painted panda. (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2015, Washington, D.C.

We walked throughout northwest D.C. for nearly two hours.  Early in the hike, we passed two fellows standing on the curb.  I turned to the men, gave a toothy smile and offered, "Good Morning, Gentlemen!"  My greeting was reciprocated with "God Bless You Ma'am. Thank you for talking to us."  I smiled again as one gent tipped the bill of his cap in my direction.  I truly felt the gentleman's blessing. My heart registered the painful sting of social invisibility felt by so many.

You need a map

I did not know the exact route we were supposed to take and I do have a tendency to wander. Hence, I was often retrieved by the sounds of "REBECCA" echoing through the air.  And more than once, I was rounded up by "one patient husband".  Lesson learned:  if I ever lead a photowalk, I will give maps to the participants.

Overall, I am pleased with the photos I took during the walk.  Against the conventional wisdom about the best light being only in early morning and later evening hours, these photos were taken in the peak hours between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.  The secret?  Shoot a very small aperture during peak daylight -  f/16 to f/22.  (I have often wondered, did someone tell Ansel Adams to limit his shooting to specific hours of the day?  If they did, he certainly did not heed the advice.)

"The boy in the mirror" and "Memorial Curve".  Both photos, (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2015. Washington, D.C.

"The boy in the mirror" and "Memorial Curve".  Both photos, (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2015. Washington, D.C.

Another tip is to set the picture control of your camera to "monochrome".  This means you will see your subject in black and white, the perfect way to check tonalities, darks and lights.  As long as you leave your image quality on "raw", you will record the actual colors.  Just know that when you enter the photos into your editing program, it may take a moment or two for them to convert from black and white to color. Use Light Room to edit?  The photos may not convert to color until you click the "Develop" tab.

  I have become enamored with the quality of the photos, both black/white and color, that result.

Left - the monochrome view as seen in the review window.  Right - the full color version from the raw files. "On the ground" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2015. Washington, D.C.

Left - the monochrome view as seen in the review window.  Right - the full color version from the raw files. "On the ground" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2015. Washington, D.C.

At the end of the day

At the end of the walk, I headed back to Ben's Chili Bowl and enjoyed a very famous "half smoke" chili dog.  This was a first for me, and I wasn't going to let the opportunity slip away.  As I left the restaurant, a dapper gentleman jumped up from his seat and queried if I had enjoyed my half smoke.  He really resembled a shorter, thinner version of Samuel L. Jackson. (Yes, I did google, "height Samuel L Jackson".)  This fellow was "Little Ben", son of the original Ben.  And Little Ben had a glorious smile that made my memory of the half-smoke even sweeter.

Bottom LIne

My day started with two giggling little girls who reminded me to have fun anywhere and finished with the dazzling smile of a dapper restaurateur. The day was book-ended by smiles, with more smiles in between.  The camera took me to D.C. but the camera was secondary to the beauty of the human connections I felt that day.  As it should be.

Start from where you are:  Get out of your jammies, step out, explore people and places.

Use what you have:  Your lovely white teeth and upturned lips provide a great entry into new experiences and destinations.

Expect the best. Anything else is an adventure.

I look forward to your comments in the section below. And please share this post on your social media.  Have a great week!

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