“Red Line train to Glenmont.” Even with all the troubles that Metro has given us in recent history, the system is quite pretty. From the Brutalist architecture, to vistas on some of the fly over tracks, Metro can still provide beauty in our daily lives. And that’s before you take the time to do a long exposure of a train coming into a station.
Pablo certainly captured that beauty with this Red Line train entering Union Station. He caught it just right so that the individual cars run together at one end, making it look like a single car. And at the other end, there are the light lines streaming along. And if you look closely at those light lines, you’ll see the wonderful movement made in the long exposure; solid lights and letters moving together forming a unique pattern. And you can clearly read the station sign and the warning on the tracks through the train’s arriving movement. Quite the sight and always a pretty one to see.
By the way, if you’re interested in great photography, our friends over at Exposed DC are getting ready to kick-off their 2014 Exposed Photography Show. They’re having a launch party at Bluejacket tonight and it will be well worth going to. This juried photography show is going into their seventh year and it is always worth seeing (both Kerrin and myself, as well as many of our regular contributors, have had photos in previous years of the show). Hope to see many people at the party!
A simple and elegant photo today; one which combines a delicate use of color and shadow, light and dark, to please the eye. Paul’s framing of the silhouetted man descending the escalator is positioned just right for the viewer’s eye to catch the flowing lines in the concrete wall. In turn, all of the shapes and designs in the wall are illuminated nicely with pleasing colored lights, balancing out the black of the shadows. Simple and elegant; well done!
How a photographer orients their camera can have surprising effects on the finished product of a photograph. That sounds like an obvious statement yet most people never move their photos beyond portrait or landscape compositions. But once one realizes that photographs can be oriented however one wants, a whole new world of art can be opened up.
Let’s take Patrick’s photo above. Rather than simply composing the shot as a regular landscape shot, he set the escalator’s handlebar as the plane of the photo. This small change suddenly makes all the people look as if they are carrying or pulling heavy loads. Combined with the grim black and white treatment, it really does look like they are enduring some sort of punishment. If we imagine what this shot would look like with a typical orientation it would lose much of its interest.
Rush hour on Metro tends to be synonymous with things like “Orange Crush” and “Trains Offloaded” and “Why, oh why, did I try to take public transit today?!” While Metro can’t, it seems, fix things like intra-office corruption and driver mistakes, they are trying to do things to make it easier for the general commuter to suffer less. Starting in June, the Orange line will get 6 extra trains per hour (3 in each direction) which will run from Vienna to Largo Town Center, for an 18% capacity boost. The move forks the Orange line into traditional Blue line territory. In addition, the Yellow line will get forked at King Street to include some trains heading to Springfield to increase southbound capacity from the core.
Metro has also said that additional “transfer free” options will be coming, but failed to detail them in their press coverage. This would include something similar to the Farragut West/Farragut North walking transfer, but it’s hard to say until Metro makes it clearer.
With the Silver Line coming in 2014 (we hope), map changes that include the line out to Dulles Rail have begun in earnest, and a dashed-line extension now splits off from the Orange line to the northwest between West Falls Church and East Falls Church and bears several empty circles where stations will one day go. In addition, the market research that WMATA did has sprouted shoots, with new glyphs for buses to the airport, VRE, MARC and Amtrak, and parking options more deftly labeled. In addition, the secondary names of stations are given reduced emphasis in favor of the primary names. In addition, Forest Glen on the Red line gets a hospital glyph (but why not Medical Center?) which is new to the system.
The new map is available for public viewing on the WMATA website, and will be coming to a train car near you in the near term. We’ll see if we can get more information about the new transfer options.
The brutalist architecture of Metro stations; there really aren’t any better examples of the style in the city. TheRobbStory does a great job of capturing the angular features of the station’s vault, and the vanishing point at the end of the platform adds a pinch of mystery. And for an added, modern touch, the curving lines of the escalator compliments everything. I bet you’ll notice all this the next time you’re in a Metro station.
Black and white photography forgoes the visual brilliance of color to focus more on composition. Ryan demonstrates this to great effect in the picture above. Rather than getting distracted by the colors around the individual, the viewer is pulled right into the communion of the man and his phone. With only his face lit by the glow of the phone’s screen, we get to see his face while the rest of his body is enveloped by the uniform black of his hoodie. Add in his Mona Lisa-esque expression and get to guess what it means; is he happy or angry at what he sees on his LCD screen? Or is it something else? Perfectly composed for us to see whatever we want to see.
Metro shots are always fun. The bright, colorful lights, combined with the blacks of the shadows, go together so well. Cruffo’s shot is unique because of the lens flare, a refraction of light in the lens of the camera which shows up in the image as multiple blue circles. Sometimes these flares can ruin a picture; other times they add a bit of wonder to an ordinary photo. This one is definitely a benefit, with the added bonus of adding color to the image. Quite the shot!
Cracked rails on the Red and Blue line this morning in commute-heavy portions of the above-ground part of the rail system have snarled morning commutes. The breaks, near the Pentagon and near Takoma, were caused by the rapid cooling of the DC area to a low of near 10 degrees Fahrenheit last night, according to Metro spokesman Dan Stessel. The breaks cannot be fixed during rush hour, and repairs will take place once morning rush is cleared.
I’ll admit, I struggled a bit trying to figure out what to write a “Best of…” article around for this week. Sports? Covered. Food? Taken. I had to look deeper than the usual fare: what was it about DC—and about WeLoveDC in particular—that I really enjoyed over the past year? I realized that one of the perks we have is the slew of interview opportunities we’re given for the site. So why not look at some of the more interesting interviews we’ve done over the course of 2011?
Often, I find that through the glimpse of someone else’s eyes and perspectives, we’re given a mirror to gaze into our own lives and see where we are, what we’re missing, and what we can hope to achieve. We wrote quite a few interviews and features on people who live, work, and/or visit the DC area this year and I wanted to take a moment and point out some of the ones that really stand out. I hope you take a moment to dive into these great features and either revisit some old friends, or find your own inspiration to make a better 2012. Continue reading →
The Metro board today met to consider some station names and changes to be made ahead of the next redesign of the map and authorized a number of changes to stations you may know and love. Here’s the skinny, straight from Metro:
Navy Yard becomes Navy Yard-Ballpark.
King Street becomes King St-Old Town.
Waterfront-SEU will drop SEU, because the university no longer exists.
Forest Glen will be shown on the map with the universal “H” symbol to indicate the location of Holy Cross Hospital.
Foggy Bottom and Medical Center will also be shown with “H” symbols reflecting proximity of hospitals.
New York Ave-Florida Ave-Gallaudet U will be renamed “NoMa-Gallaudet U.” “New York Ave” will be shown as a secondary name for one-year to assist customers during the transition.
Four stations were unaltered, due to public familiarity with their names, despite their length:
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
The new names will take effect next year when the June 2012 Metro Map hits the streets. The cost to rename the stations is estimated to be approximately $400,000, though no formal figure is available.
Metro will soon expand temporary station closures for track repairs, in place of single tracking. Though shuttle buses will be provided between the affected stations, closures are scheduled to happen around the system for two-thirds of weekends over the next 18 months. Continue reading →
When people see the behemoths of cameras that I carry around, their normal reaction is something along the lines of “I bet you get great pictures with those!” Before I really got into photography, I would have probably said the same thing. Now, a few years and tens of thousands of pictures later, I know it’s not the camera that makes a good picture, it’s the photographer behind the camera that is key. The camera is just a tool, and a person can take a great picture with a comparatively inferior tool, if they have the skill.
Ryan demonstrates this point with his phenomenal street shot of a federal employee on the Metro. Using a camera, which millions of people have and use everyday (an iPhone), he’s able to take a great candid in a hectic and photo adverse environment. That’s skill!
By the way, you’ve probably noticed I’m a new author. Though I’ve been trolling the site for years as a reader, the powers that be thought I would make a good contributor. Thus, here I am! My beat will be mostly photography, so keep the shots coming into the group. I will tell you now, I’m a sucker for good wildlife and long exposure photography. So, keep reading, and, just so that you know, all well placed Star Wars and 80s movie references are welcome in the comments.
Not every great photograph is crisp and perfect, in clean focus and with smooth grain. This shot, from inside the Foggy Bottom Metro this weekend, captures the motion of this protestor as he leapt to the top of the faregate, and, from the description, into the waiting arms of MPD. What I love about this photo is that you’re seeing what’s about to happen, as well what is happening. That’s a hard capture as a photographer, to get the viewer to see what’s next, as well as frame the moment.
I love the clean lines in the background, the curving squares of the Metro ceiling stretching onward into infinity. The Do Not Enter lights of the faregates express clearly the transgression in progress.
Two weeks ago, Metro’s board heard, again, about the possibility of eliminating late night service on the weekends. This has reopened the debate about what direction Metro should be going, and whom it should be serving.
Two of the most vociferous opponents of such a change on the WMATA board have recently left, and the new board seemed more amenable to the idea.
There are those who believe that late night service is a big boon to Metro’s bottom line and that it should be continued. Others, especially within Metro, argue that closing the system earlier would give them the equivalent of 45 days more maintenance time per year, and lower costs for overtime.
As always with Metro, it’s a balancing act. On the one hand, the system is overloaded during the rush hours, has long lead times in the evening, and pretty crappy service on the weekends. It is constantly facing budget shortfalls, and its funding is always under attack. It is aging, and it isn’t in a state of good repair. It wasn’t designed to handle the service we’re asking of it, and we won’t fund it well enough to even make it run “normally”. Continue reading →
There are many ways to make a great picture. Sometimes, it requires you to look at a familiar subject from an unusual angle. It’s not always possible, but sometimes you get lucky.
Looks like Ryan Maxwell got a little luck and managed to take the time to put his camera on the edge of a Metro escalator. He was lucky not to have others walking up behind him to use it, for one, and luckier that it didn’t self destruct while he was there.
We are putting building blocks in place – making safety investments, improving our tracks and rail system, putting new buses in service, expanding staff training and designing new rail cars – while it may not be immediately evident and there are inconveniences along the way – we are literally building a new Metro for our customers and employees. — Metro’s GM/CEO, Richard Sarles
As we reported yesterday, Metro’s board named Richard Sarles as the permanent General Manager and Chief Executive Officer. It’s a move they should have done in the first place, and one that I said might happen when we first heard of Sarles.
Over ten months, Sarles has brought an engineer’s attitude and has been acting less interim than his title would have implied. He said he wasn’t looking to come here full time, but he always seemed to want to make an impact. “I came to Metro as the interim general manager,” he said at the board meeting yesterday, “simply wanting to help put the agency on the right path.” Continue reading →
I guess I’ve changed a whole lot since I was 17 years old, when I kind of loved my summer job delivering food for Wing Zone around the suburbs of Atlanta. I met plenty of characters, sure, and getting tips for the first time felt like playing a slot machine! But the best part to me was driving around all day, blasting music for just me and the wings in the backseat. To me, this was freedom; no bosses watching over me every second and complete control over my playlist.
These days when I contemplate driving, pleasant memories of deliveries, road trips, and burning donuts in parking lots don’t come to me immediately. Mostly I think about how I got a $100 parking ticket* within a week of moving here, then got harassed for not having DC plates. Or I think about that time someone threw a brick through my side window just days before Christmas, while my car was parked in front of a church, in order to steal nothing more than a couple awesome CDs like Smashing Pumpkins’ “Zeitgeist” and a sweet mix I made called “Maximum Chillaximum”. Continue reading →
The FBI has had a string of wins recently nabbing numerous would-be terrorists before they’ve struck. CNN is reporting that they’ve just accused a man arrested on December 7th of “threatening to place pipe bombs along the Metro transportation system in Washington.” The individual, identified as Awais Younis (nee Sundullah Ghilzai) bragged to someone on Facebook how to construct the device and where he could deploy them without being noticed.
There’s some changes coming to SmartBenefits in the new year, and you might want know about them now for your long term planning health.
Metro tells us that starting January 1, 2011, there will be two changes to some benefit programs mandated by the government. The first change is a limit on how much money a person can get for transit. The new limit is $120, a full $110 less than it is this year.
The agency says that of about 285,000 people that receive a transit benefit, about 90,000 will be affected by this. This change comes about as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act expires at the end of the year. Continue reading →
As you prepare for your journey home for the Thanksgiving holiday, we’d like to offer you some travel safety tips.
Don’t refer to Reagan National Airport as “Reagan Airport”. You’ll be hogtied and sprayed with patchouli by any liberal who overhears you. Repeat after me: “National Airport”.
Don’t drink before you make your way through security or you may mistake that TSA pat down as a sexual advance. First, it’s not, and second, have you ever seen an attractive TSA security guard? Wait until you’re at your gate or on the plane before you break out that flask of Wild Turkey (disguised as a 3 ounce shampoo bottle*), and don’t forget to share with your fellow passengers.
If Grandma picks you up from the airport in her ’73 Chevy Impala, grab the keys from her and insist on driving*. She’s old and could be a danger to other drivers on the road, plus the car has a V8 in it and hauls some serious ass. Crank that AM radio and be the gangster you’ve always wanted to be.
If you happen to spot a moose on the Metro either on your way out of town or on your way home, don’t panic. According to the Internet, “Moose are most likely to attack during the spring (when the females have new calves) and fall (when the bull moose are trying to mate). They weigh up to 1500 pounds and could easily crush a human if aggravated. Most moose attacks are brought on by foolishness – common sense is the key.” Common sense. Is the key. Wise words.
Safe travels, DC, and say hi to Grandma for me — I’ll be here holding down the fort, enjoying the entire city to myself. If I missed any travel safety tips, feel free to leave them in the comments.
* In no way do we at We Love DC condone messing with TSA rules or drinking and driving.