National Arboretum

This past May, Ligia and I visited the National Arboretum here in DC. We try to go there at least once a year. The grounds are huge, and they have both outdoors and indoors facilities. Admission is free, and the grounds are open from 8 AM to 5 PM daily, every day of the year except on Christmas.

The National Arboretum was established in 1927 through an Act of Congress. It is administered by the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service. Its mission is to “serve the public need for scientific research, education, and gardens that conserve and showcase plants to enhance the environment”. It sits on 446 acres and has 9.5 miles of roads.

Among its gardens are:

  • Single-genus: azalea, boxwood, daffodil, daylily, dogwood, holly, magnolia, maple, and peony.
  • Major gardens: aquatic plants, the Asian Collections, the Fern Valley Native Plant Collections, the Flowering Tree Collection, the Flowering Tree Walk, the Friendship Garden, the Gotelli Dwarf and Slow-Growing Conifer Collection, the Introduction Garden, the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, the National Capitol Columns, the National Grove of State Trees, and the National Herb Garden.

If you’re in the area and you haven’t been yet, please visit, it’s worth your time.


Photos from the Bethesda photowalk

On 2/9 at 2 PM, Ligia and I attended the Bethesda photowalk, an event organized by Mark Anderson. It was our first group photowalk — up till now, I took photos by myself and only Ligia accompanied me. The only other similar event I ever attended was the Alexandria photowalk last year, organized by Keith McCammon. I felt much more comfortable there, mainly because there was only one other person in attendance besides Ligia and me: Keith.

I discovered, or rather remembered certain things during the Bethesda photowalk:

  • I don’t like group events. I tend to feel alone and isolated in large groups and feel the need to draw apart and be by myself.
  • I don’t like shaking hands with people when I can’t wash afterwards. This is part of my obsessive-compulsive personality. Even more so, I don’t like shaking hands with people when I’m using my camera and I can’t wash my hands because there’s no bathroom nearby. It’s because I feel their hand germs on my my hand and on the camera, and I can’t concentrate on taking photos. I know it’s odd and probably wrong, but that’s what it is and I have to cope with it.
  • Taking photos in large groups is pretty weird for me. It’s not my bag. I end up feeling like a paparazzi, and that’s not what I got into photography to do. It also breaks my concentration to have all those snapping cameras around me and I don’t end up taking good photos.

None of this has anything to do with the event itself or with the people who attended. The event was a trigger that helped me realize certain things. Everyone was nice, Mark did a great job of organizing the event and mapping out the route, and if only I could enjoy myself, there were plenty of opportunities. But, like I said, large group photowalks aren’t my bag.

Overall, I’m grateful for the photowalk. It got me out of the house and taking photos, and that’s always a good thing. Let’s call this my Week 8 submission for the 2008 Community Challenge.


Bethesda photowalk tomorrow

For those of you that can make it, we’ll meet at the street-level plaza of the Bethesda metro station at 2 PM. Let’s hope it won’t rain. This was organized by Mark Anderson. There’s more information on, including a map. And there’s a Flickr discussion too. See you there!


Alexandria photowalk this Saturday morning

I’m going to a photowalk organized by Keith McCammon this Saturday morning. It’ll be in downtown Alexandria by the docks. We’re going to meet up at 7:30 am near the Torpedo Factory. It should be really fun. I love early morning shoots, and if it won’t rain, the weather will be nice and cool. The added bonus is that we’ll avoid the afternoon and evening crowds. Alexandria is a beautiful place with lots of great restaurants, and it gets pretty crowded during the weekends.

If you like photography or would like to learn more about it, come join us! We’ll talk about cameras, lenses, tripods, filters, etc. and swap tips and other advice while we take some (hopefully) great photos.

Here’s a Google map of the meeting place. The original posts from are here and here.

Hope to see you there!