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Monday, September 19, 2005


Photo Safari!

"Dad, thought you might be interested in this..."

So read the email I got from my first-born, Leah, a few weeks ago. The "this" she referred to was a link to Washington Photo Safari, and in particular, a description of a two-hour "Photo Safari" a few weeks hence in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.

Well, it looked pretty good to me - I'd been in a photo-slump for months, and thought the interaction with a group would do me good. Plus, at only $30, the price was right.

So this past Saturday, I charged up my batteries, formatted my CF cards, and headed out. Alexandria is only an hours drive from Annapolis, just across the Potomac from Washington, D.C. It's a small city, and at it's core, "Old Towne," is a nicely-restored several-block district of buildings dating to the time of George Washington, mixed with upscale restaurants and boutiques.

I got to the Torpedo Factory, our meeting place on Alexandria's renovated waterfront, a half-hour early, and had a chance to chat with our Safari leader, Dave Luria. I won't go into Dave's impressive credentials, which you can read about here. But in addition to all that, Dave is a friendly and engaging fellow, and even from the short time I spent around him, I could see that he is a great teacher.

Over the next half-hour, more and more participants gathered, about twenty in all. We were a nice mix of (mostly) young and (me) old, of beginners and more advanced amateurs. One charming young lady arrived at the last minute, having just bought her brand-new digital camera on the way to the event.

Dave spent about a half-hour going over some basics ranging from how to hold a camera properly to some sound travel photography advice. I truly enjoyed the way he used his sense of humor to make his points. For example, he said that most people approach taking travel pictures as "faith-based photography" - take 500 shots and pray that ten of them will come out decent.

Having concluded his basic training, Dave led us around the small waterfront, suggesting subjects and pointing out good vantage points. Then it was off throught the old streets of Old Town.

Some of my fellow Photo Safari photogs Posted by Picasa

Alexandria waterfront Posted by Picasa

Blue Door to Nowhere Posted by Picasa

Being in a group of enthusiastic photographers was a big lift. I realized that I always go out and shoot on my own, and while that has its advantages, I think it also takes a psychological toll. I tell you what - I intend to do this sort of thing more often.

If you live in the Washington or Baltimore area, you should definitely check out the Photo Safari web site. For that matter, even if you're just visiting the area, take a few minutes to see if there's a Photo Safari that will be convenient for you to join. Some are full-day or half-day, and many are only 2 hours long. Tell Dave I sent you!

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