Featured Photo

Featured Photo

There are a lot of ways to take a picture of a building and most them are not very exciting. Seriously, do an image search on “building” and see what you get. Oh sure, some of the buildings have interesting designs but the images, themselves, are pretty blah. But every once in awhile, we see a new, exciting perspective that helps us view the familiar in a new way. I think Kevin Wolf’s photo does that.

I’ve never really been that interested/good at shooting architectural photos, which is why I really admire people who have an eye for that sort of thing. Kevin made a couple artistic decisions here that I like. Two of those decisions were made when he was taking the picture: Obviously, he stood close to the building and shot directly up, using the long, leading lines in the building to draw our attention across the frame and he used a long exposure (15 seconds) to give the clouds a surreal appearance. That happens because while the shutter is open, the clouds are moving, creating that streaky effect. This also tells us he likely used a tripod to prevent camera shake that can happen during long exposures and a neutral density filter to reduce the amount of light getting through to the camera’s sensor. Otherwise, the amount of light hitting the sensor during a 15 second exposure at 8:30 a.m. would have completely blown out the image.

The other decisions he made occurred when he processed this photo with his editing software. He converted the image to black and white (though a lot of new cameras have a mode that allows you to actually shoot in monochrome). That decision allowed him to create some rich contrast between the windows and the rest of the building. He also darkened the sides of the frame, a “vignetting” effect that pushes our focus towards the center of the picture where our eyes then catch a ride on the leading lines to the top right corner. You can see the larger version of this photo on Kevin’s flickr page.

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Music, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: Hamilton Leithauser @ Lincoln Theatre — 9/2-9/4/14

Hamilton Leithauser (Photo courtesy Press Here)

Hamilton Leithauser (Photo courtesy Press Here)

If there were any doubts Hamilton Leithauser could successfully launch a solo career, he has been steadily putting them to rest with a series of solid performances since the release of his first album, Black Hours, in June.

Leithauser’s Black Hours serves as an ode to staying out until the early hours of the morning, in a very classic way of “painting the town red.” And last week he kicked off the evening for three sold-out nights as the opener for Spoon at the Lincoln Theatre on Sept. 2-4.

The former lead singer of The Walkmen strode onto the hometown stage full of confidence, with a strong voice and a talented band to croon a pleasing set of 10 songs drawn largely from the new album. He opened with a song that could very easily serve as a coda for a solo career, “I Don’t Need Anyone,” a song that’s actually a bit about aligning your path with someone else’s.

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Music, The Features, We Love Music

Hot Ticket: Buzzcocks @ Black Cat, 9/4/14

After the Sex Pistols shook up the U.K. music scene in 1976, new music groups exploded across the country, and perhaps the city of Manchester cultivated the most intriguing of the bands that resulted.

Among them: the Buzzcocks, the legendary punk popsters, who have released a new album, The Way, this year.

It’s remarkable that the Buzzcocks have managed to stay together despite an extended breakup in the ’80s; more remarkable that the band retains two of its original members in vocalists and guitarists Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle; and absolutely most remarkable that the new album (funded through PledgeMusic) sounds pretty good from the tracks I’ve heard.

In support of the new album, the Buzzcocks visit the Black Cat tonight to launch a North American tour, and they are sure to play lots of classics, including “What Do I Get,” “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)” and “Orgasm Addict,” as well.

Buy tickets online or at the door (although I warn you, they sold out at the last minute when the Buzzcocks last came to the Black Cat on May 11, 2010, as We Love DC reported then).

The Buzzcocks
w/ Loud Boyz
Black Cat
Thursday, Sept. 4
Doors @8pm
$25
All ages

Featured Photo

Featured Photo

This weather has us in such a good mood that we’re giving you a bonus photo today. Both photos are excellent examples of how to use backlighting and patterns to create interesting images, especially when said images are either shot in monochrome or converted during post processing. These patterns and interesting shadows are everywhere. You just have to take the time to look for them. And while early morning and late afternoon sun can create wonderful long shadows, which appears to be what Victoria got from the skylight at the National Building Museum, you can still use the midday sun to create a silhouette as Chris did in his image from the Hirshhorn.

Speaking of patterns, that’s the theme of this year’s 500px Global Photo Walk, which I’ll be leading in DC on Sept. 6. If you’ve got a camera and a passion for photography, you should join us. You don’t need a fancy camera, either. (Chris took his photo with an iPhone) Sign up on the Facebook event page.

Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Julien Shapiro of Eat the Rich

Julien Shapiro of Eat the Rich

Julien Shapiro of Eat the Rich

We’re revisiting our Capital Chefs feature with a series by music reporter Mickey McCarter. A lot has been happening recently in kitchens in D.C. restaurants, and Mickey takes a look into them from his usual seat at the bar in this series, which runs weekly on Thursdays.

When Julien Shapiro created the opening menu for Eat the Rich, he consulted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to get some idea of which fish he should use and which to avoid.

The NOAA scientists could not tell him what to do, of course, but they could provide him with data and help him interpret it.

“If you look at the fishing reports, it says the numbers are such, and then you make a conclusion based on what you think is good,” Shapiro told me. “They will say whether it is overfished or underfished or if there is no data.”

To round out his view of the fish available in the mid-Atlantic, Shapiro makes an effort to visit each mid-Atlantic state and check with its Department of Natural Resources to discover local numbers on fish and confirm what is available.

These habits serve Shapiro and Eat the Rich well, as the chef and owners focus on local, sustainable seafood, derived heavily from the Chesapeake Bay.

“We are trying to focus exclusively on Chesapeake seafood. That’s our calling card,” Shapiro said.

Cocktail mogul Derek Brown and oysterman Travis Coxton opened Eat the Rich last year, naming it after a Motorhead song. Coxton is also behind Rappahannock River Oysters, which has expanded locally into Union Market in 2012. Eat the Rich serves those same oysters. Coxton is concerned about being a good steward of the local oyster population, Shapiro said, and the chef applies the same outlook to the rest of the seafood served at Eat the Rich.

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Music, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: Retro Futura Tour — 8/22/14

Tom Bailey, voice of the Thompson Twins, performs at The Wilbur in Boston on Aug. 24 (Photo courtesy The  Wilbur)

Tom Bailey, voice of the Thompson Twins, performs at The Wilbur in Boston on Aug. 24 (Photo courtesy The
Wilbur)

Midge Ure, OBE, lead singer of Ultravox and cofounder of the Live Aid music festival, stepped out onto stage in front of a house band.

“Give us this day, all that you showed me/the power and the glory, ‘til my kingdom come!”

He belted out his lyrics a Capella before thundering into the guitar riff that serves as the backbone to “Hymn,” one of the best songs from his sadly absent band Ultravox. The high-minded content of Ure’s pop songs are a bit unusual these days, but his songs fit right in on a concert tour lineup that included a hearty group of romantic optimists—among them Howard Jones and Tom Bailey (formerly of the Thompson Twins).

The mini-festival winding its way across the United States at the moment is called the Retro Futura tour, and unfortunately it did not stop in DC on its way across the country. The closest it got was a suburb of Philadelphia on Friday, Aug. 22. In previous years, the tour had stopped here under its former name, the Regeneration Tour.

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Music, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: Robyn & Röyksopp @ Wolf Trap — 8/21/14

Somewhere in synthpop heaven, a match was made. Norwegian duo Royksopp would party with Swedish indie diva Robyn, and beautiful music would be made.

It happened most spectacularly on Royksopp’s 2009 album, Junior, with the disco smash “The Girl and the Robot,” which between Royksopp’s hooky synths and Robyn’s pleading voice captured a perfect crystalized moment in dancefloor history. Nominally, the song is about a woman in love with someone who may not return her affections, or at least is not as warm as she would like. The video fetishes technology and strobe lights.

And introducing the song gave Robyn a perfect opportunity to declare her raison d’etre before its performance by a happily reunited Robyn and Royksopp Thursday night at Wolf Trap.

“Love is a lot of work. Love is hard,” she said.

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The Daily Feed, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Sunday in the Park with George

Brynn O’Malley (Dot) and Claybourne Elder (George) in Sunday in the Park with George at Signature Theatre. Photo by Margot Schulman.

Brynn O’Malley (Dot) and Claybourne Elder (George) in Sunday in the Park with George at Signature Theatre. Photo by Margot Schulman.

For persons wholly unfamiliar with the musical theatre canon of Stephen Sondheim, the Neo-impressionist artist George Seurat and his famous painting A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, or the work of DC-area director Matthew Gardiner, Sunday in the Park with George at Signature Theatre is worth seeing. For fans and admirers of Sondheim, Seurat, or Gardiner, seeing Signature’s production is absolutely essential. In fact, it’s vital. In the 97-year history of the Pulitzer Prize for drama, only eight musicals have won the coveted award and in 1985, Sondheim and book writer James Lapine’s fictionalized story of Seurat and his pointillist creation of A Sunday on La Grande Jatte became the sixth musical to achieve such an honor. Inspired by Seurat’s technique of applying a series of tiny, individual colored dots to form an image, Sondheim not only mimicked the style musically and verbally– through the use of staccato phrases, simple melodies, and clipped conversation—but he even named his female protagonist Dot. More than that, though, Sondheim and Lapine, in studying Seurat’s painting which depicts random people relaxing in a park on an island in the Seine River, wanted to give a voice to the one figure that seemed to be missing from the canvas: the artist himself. Sunday in the Park with George is written as two separate acts, whose individual stories merge at the end of Act II, to complete a thematic journey of art and love. Act I explores Seurat’s creation of the art and his struggle between passion for the work, and passion for his relationships, most notably with his lover, Dot. Three generations later, Act II features Seurat’s great-grandson George, an American artist trying to find his own passion, who eventually visits the island on the Seine River, depicted in Seurat’s painting, for inspiration, and ultimately ends up finding himself through his ancestry. Because the two acts are set nearly one hundred years apart, with completely different characters, styles of music, and seemingly unconnected plots, trying to seamlessly merge the two acts and complexity of the show’s themes is difficult. Particularly challenging is doing this without losing the pointillist nuances and simplicities in the script and musical score, all the while trying to give voice to the artists of the piece. In less than capable hands, Sunday in the Park with George can easily become droll, lackluster, and completely uninspired, rendering audiences bored, confused, and unmoved. Fortunately, Signature Theatre placed their production in the extremely capable hands of director Matthew Gardiner and the end result is breathtaking and awe-inspiring enchantment. Without adding too much unnecessary embellishment or frills to the piece, Gardiner flawlessly leads the audience through the complex world of the show by focusing on the show’s basic theme of allowing one’s passions to come from the heart and using that passion to make something beautiful. Gardiner seems to understand very well that those making this piece are, in essence, their own characters in Sunday in the Park with George and Gardiner’s heart and passion for the work are very evident in every aspect of this show. In fact, one of the reasons why Signature’s production is so beautiful is because everyone involved in the production seems to bring their full heart and passion to it. Claybourne Elder, in the title roles, first as George Seurat and then as 1980s artist George, carries the show gracefully, finding the perfect balances between artist and lover, relative and friend, passion and person, and tormented versus inspired. Never allowing his Georges to become sullen, moody, and unlikable, Elder remains sympathetic and heartfelt, even when his on-stage behaviors are self-destructive and disagreeable. To be able to do that, while creating two separate and distinct Georges, and then find a way to merge them together at the end of Act II is nothing but brilliant when done well and Elder’s portrayal is sheer genius. Similarly, Brynn O’Malley, first as Seurat’s lover, Dot, and then as 1980s George’s grandmother, Marie, (Seurat and Dot’s daughter), is incredible. As Dot, O’Malley remains grounded and keeps it simple, which is imperative for a character who, like the pointillist style she is named after, allows for the audience to see her fuller range of tones, from her solid comedic chops to her fine dramatic work. As the aged Marie in Act II, O’Malley’s transformation into a centenarian Grandmother is spectacular, wonderfully adopting the geriatric behaviors and nuances without allowing herself to become a caricature. No less impressive than Elder and O’Malley is a talented ensemble of actors who, like Gardiner and his team of gifted collaborators, clearly bring their full passion and love to this production. To see a show with such heart from all sides is truly special and rare, which is why Signature’s production of Sunday in the Park with George is so moving and so spectacular. It is the quintessential love letter to Sondheim, Seurat, theatre, and to art. Sunday in the Park with George performs now through September 21, 2014 at Signature Theatre, located at 4200 Campbell Avenue, Arlington VA 22206. Tickets start at $40. For more information, call 703-820-9771.

Featured Photo

Featured Photo

There’s nothing quite like a spectacular sunset. The only problem is the day you go out and set up your tripod hoping to take a sunset photo is the day that the sun just kind of sinks into the horizon in a very blah manner.

You’ve got to have equal parts skill and serendipity to capture an amazing sunset like the one John J Young did here.

One of the most important factors (the most important?) is that you need  clouds in the sky but not just any clouds — you need clouds that sit just above the horizon so that they’ll catch the light as the sun sets. On the evening that John took this picture, a fast moving storm had just swept through the area. The clouds it left behind were amazing.

He wasn’t the only one who got a great picture of the sky Wednesday night. Check out our Flickr pool to see more, including this one and this one.

Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Jesse Miller of Bar Pilar

Jesse Miller of Bar Pilar

Jesse Miller of Bar Pilar

We’re revisiting our Capital Chefs feature with a series by music reporter Mickey McCarter. A lot has been happening recently in kitchens in D.C. restaurants, and Mickey takes a look into them from his usual seat at the bar in this series, which runs weekly on Thursdays.

Out of art school, Jesse Miller sized up his prospects and took a job at the Elkridge Furnace Inn in Elkridge, Md.

The restaurant has one of the best wine programs in Maryland, offering gourmet French food to hungry customers as well as hosting weddings and catering.

At first thankful for a job, Miller ended up staying there for seven years.

“I was lucky enough to get a job there and that’s how this started,” said Miller, now chef at Bar Pilar and its sister establishment Café Saint-Ex. “Otherwise, I would still be trying to paint and living in the street someplace.”

He learned a lot at the Elkridge Furnace Inn that he applies to Bar Pilar, where his friends and customers hail him as an innovative chef.

“I was taught that a chef should accommodate anything at any time for anyone,” Miller said. “If you don’t like our options, we can always do something.

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Music, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: Mike Peters (of The Alarm) @ Gypsy Sally’s — 8/7/14

SONY DSCMike Peters and his bandmates met with their new manager one day some 30-odd years ago, and told him they already were done being a supporting act.

“From now on, we only headline shows. We don’t want to be a supporting act,” the members of The Alarm said to their sympathetic manager.

Very soon, however, he called them back with an offer they really might want to consider–opening for U2 on their tour in support of the album October. Gobsmacked, Peters nonetheless reluctantly began to explain the band should stand behind their manifesto. But before they could turn down the deal, drummer Nigel Twist grabbed the phone and shouted, “Of course, we’ll do it!”

The tour was successful, and U2 invited The Alarm to tour with them in America well, introducing their Welch friends to the United States. The bands remained friends through the years, and U2 recorded a cover of The Alarm’s “Blaze of Glory” for a BBC Radio Wales special on the 30th anniversary of The Declaration, the first-full length album from the band, which aired in April.

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Music, Night Life, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: Chinese Disco Soft Opening–8/7/14

chinesediscoFrom 1977 to 1986, one of the most infamous places in DC to boogey down was in the basement of an unlikely location—a Chinese restaurant called the Day Lily, then located at 2142 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.

Thursday night, the Chinese Disco, as it was known after dark, returned to DC. With the blessing of the founders of the original night, a bar formerly known as the George has dubbed itself Chinese Disco at 3251 Prospect St. NW, and launched weekend dance parties sure to bring a little more indie dance spirit to Georgetown (a neighborhood sorely long lacking in dance spots).

By any measure, the well-orchestrated soft opening party was a success. More than 700 people signed up for the guest list, which was managed electronically at the door. The large crowd was ready to dance, and dance they did to the likes of Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s “Turn Down for What,” and even the Spice Girls.

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Featured Photo

Featured Photo

faith suspect

When you see this photo and think of “faith,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? It’s likely that your own world views and biases will color your response. At its best, street photography provokes your emotions, whether its humor, anger or anything in between. This photo taken a few years ago in Logan Circle by local photographer Chris Suspect is from a new exhibit entitled “Faith” that opens Saturday at the Leica Store gallery, 977 F Street, N.W. The opening reception is from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The exhibit features the work of DC’s very own Strata Collective, a group of DC street photographers (now including members in Brooklyn and Los Angeles) that have been together since 2012. You can read more about the collective and the exhibit here.

We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Stupid Fucking Bird, redux

(l-r) Rick Foucheux, Brad Koed, and Darius Pierce (Photo: Stan Barouh)

(l-r) Rick Foucheux, Brad Koed, and Darius Pierce (Photo: Stan Barouh)

Woolly has restaged Aaron Posner’s take on The Seagull, which since we’re an online outlet we can name without its asterisks: Stupid Fucking Bird. Jenn raved about it last year to anyone who would stand still or walk slower than she could, so I was excited to catch it for myself.

I’m not prepared to part with as many superlatives as she did, but I found it to be a very enjoyable play on its own merits and an interesting attempt to modernize and Americanize a classic piece of Russian literature. I’ll confess, I’m a bit of a sucker for fourth wall shenanigans, so when Brad Koed’s Con says “of course I know I’m in a play,” they are throwing me a bone. On the flip side, I’m more on the “don’t mess with it without a good reason” camp when it comes to adaptations. So how do my warring sides make peace on this?

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Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Amber Bursik of DC9

Amber Bursik of DC9

Amber Bursik of DC9

We’re revisiting our Capital Chefs feature with a series by music reporter Mickey McCarter. A lot has been happening recently in kitchens in D.C. restaurants, and Mickey takes a look into them from his usual seat at the bar in this series, which runs weekly on Thursdays.

When you hang out with a crowd that goes to see a lot of concerts, as I do, you are occasionally going to find yourself eating in a concert hall.

You might do so in the moment, and you might not expect the food to be too good. So you may find it refreshing when the food at your favorite venue is really consistently great.

Things make sense once you look behind the curtain at DC9, however, and find Amber Bursik in the kitchen. After finishing culinary school, Bursik worked at Georgetown fish house Hook for several years and then popular Mediterranean restaurant Palena for several more before going to work at DC9 a few years ago.

“When I came in here, there was a menu in the place and I had to work within the parameters of the menu in place and the size and capabilities of the kitchen,” Bursik told me. “Because of that, I was told I had to have the burgers on the menu. I could change the burgers, but we had to have burgers.”

In her last five months at the now-shuttered Palena, Bursik was working the grill station, where she was responsible for cooking what many called the best burger in DC.

“It was fun and interesting but at the same time, you are working at this fine dining restaurant and you’re cooking burgers!” Bursik said. “So it was funny to come here and cook burgers again. But we have a great burger because of it.”

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Entertainment, Music, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: Filligar @ DC9 — 7/26/14

Filligar Live at DC9 - 7/26/14

Filligar Live at DC9 – 7/26/14

When you’ve watched a band evolve over the span of a decade or more, it’s easy to be blinded by your own personal biases. But when it comes to Filligar, I often like to take a step back and remember the story from the beginning.

It’s only fair that I open this story with the fact that I’ve known Filligar – which is comprised of the Mathias brothers Johnny, Pete, and Ted and their life-long friend Casey Gibson – since I was a freshman at the Latin School of Chicago. It was the Fall of 2004 and I had recently started classes when I made friends with the guys who would become the band Filligar.

My first true introduction to them as a rock band was when we shared a billing at a battle of the bands in November 2004. I’ll never forget that day. It was the day George Harrison passed away. We all hung out in our school theater’s green room before the show talking about music and whatever else freshmen in high school talk about (though Johnny was in the 7th grade at the time). They went by the name Flipside back then and I’m pretty sure I have their first disc somewhere in my CD collection stored safely in a Chicago attic. But nostalgia aside, these guys have come a long way since the early days of the band.

Their live show is what makes them standout in an over-saturated music market and, on Saturday July 26, they showed the crowd at DC9 exactly that. Not only did the packed house demand Filligar play one more song before they agreed to a one-song encore but when they ended the show for the night, their devoted fans continued to chant for more music.

Never have I felt the floors of DC9 shake as they did that night. I worried for a moment that the ground beneath my feet was about to collapse while Filligar played their staple set-ending tune “Trepador,” which they’ve recorded a couple times between 2008 and 2013. But the floors didn’t collapse and the show ended on a high note. The sheer amount of energy they expel while performing live is infectious and that’s what the room was left with — energy.

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Food and Drink, The Features, Where We Live

Best Rickey: DC Craft Bartenders Guild @ Jack Rose Dining Saloon–8/3/14

Dustin Beruta of Cashion's Eat Place created a yummy vanilla Rickey.

Dustin Beruta of Cashion’s Eat Place created a yummy vanilla Rickey.

Sunday was a perfect day to stand alongside a bar on a roof and drink a refreshing beverage, maybe something a little sweet, maybe something a little fruity.

Seven of the top bartenders in the city were happy to oblige as they faced off under the auspices of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild for the title of best Rickey at the Jack Rose Dining Saloon in Adams Morgan. The seven Rickeys came in a variety of mixtures, and included recipes made from gin, bourbon or rye.

The arrangement for the 2014 contest was simple and effective. Three bartenders with gin-based Rickeys served their creations upstairs at Jack Rose, while the whiskey-based Rickeys were served by their mixologists downstairs. A reasonable $35 provided unlimited access to all seven Rickeys, allowing the audience ample opportunity to judge their own personal favorite from among the competitors.

The judging panel for the Rickey competition awarded best Rickey to the gin-based “Supafly Rickey,” created by Lukas B. Smith of Daikaya. It consisted of Half Moon Orchard Gin, cured sweet potato soda and a drop of rose water, garnished with a lime and a spray of lemongrass. It was pretty damn easy to drink, and it was probably the freshest and most memorable beverage among an excellent lot. The bartenders ran out of the ingredients for the Supafly Rickey well before the conclusion of the four-hour event.

Daikaya vows to display the Best Rickey Trophy at the bar for the next year, and perhaps they will continue to serve their winning cocktail as well.

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Featured Photo

Featured Photo

It’s always a good idea when enjoying a photograph to let it percolate a little in your mind. You know, let it bounce around a little while you take a moment to savor its goodness. At first glance, you appreciate the way the light wraps around this gentleman’s head in a way that gives him an almost saintly glow.

The light is a harsh, midday sun and strikes our guy slightly from behind. Normally, this kind of light could create unappealing shadows on his face, particularly around his eyes and hairline. In this case, Richie (we’re assuming his name is Richie) is wearing these cool, mirrored sunglasses. And his hairline …well… he doesn’t have that problem.

Richie pulls the mirrored sunglasses, the plastic cross and the 5 o’clock shadow together very well. But what I really like about this shot is the picture-within-the-picture. If you look closely at the sunglasses, you’ll see our intrepid photographer, Miki J. And there standing next to him with an arm on her hip is a …mystery woman! [For a better view, check out the extra-large version of the photo] Those are the little things I love finding in a photo and it’s something we might have missed if we hadn’t taken the time to appreciate this shot. You can see more great photos in our flickr pool.