Apr 302013


Come one Come all!  This weekend John Milleker, Michelle Barkdoll, and I will be at the Civil War Reenactment at the Living History Museum in Westminister demonstrating Wet Plate Collodion Photography.  In the past we’ve gone to the reenactment to photograph the happenings (and I admit, my digital and film camera may be in attendance, to get a few pictures this year also).  Love watching the battle they do in the afternoon and walk around an talk to the reenactors.  It’s great fun and I encourage anyone who would consider it to come out!

Apr 182013

One year ago, on April 17, I embarked on an adventure into Washington, DC.  I had my camera in hand as I rode the Metro into the city, destination: The National Mall.  It was an amazing site when I got there.  People were lining the roof tops of federal buildings.  The National Mall was filled with people in business suites.  Not just tourists come to see the sites of the Nation’s Capital.  Everyone was watching the sky, watching for the Space Shuttle Discovery to arrive from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Discovery on 747

Discovery on 747

People lining the roof tops of the National Mall

People lining the roof tops of the National Mall

Discovery atop a specially designed 747, circled the National Mall 3 times

Discovery atop a specially designed 747, circled the National Mall 3 times



This was the second most memorable NASA event for me, the most memorable being 2 trips and almost 5 days down to Cape Canaveral the previous year to see Endeavour’s final flight to space, but that is a different story.  (See my previous posts for more details 1,2,3,4,5,6,7) Discovery, or at least what was left of her after NASA gutted her out for display in a museum, was arriving to her final resting spot, the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, Virginia.  The NASA 747 that carried her up the East Coast and to DC circled the National Mall several times before landing at Dulles National Airport, very near the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.  On April 19 there was a ceremony April 19, where Discovery was put nose-to-nose with Enterprise, the previously displayed shuttle at the Smithsonian, who was getting ready for her trip to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City, New York.  Alas, I didn’t make it down to Virginia that day, but it was a site to see!  I watched from home, all the news stations were showing at least some of it. My hope is that the shuttle program is soon replaced by other space craft that can take us back to the moon, then on to Mars, and then beyond.


Here is the Smithsonian’s video about the arrival of Discovery:

Space Shuttle Discovery Delivered to the Smithsonian



Aug 282011

Wrote this a while ago and swear I published it, but here it is unpublished, but it deserves to be put up, so here it is.  🙂


In the last few months I have found myself learning more and more about NASA and the shuttle program down at Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island in Florida. I lucked into a spot at the NASA STS134 Tweetup and was able to make it back for the second launch attempt as the first one was scrubbed for a couple weeks. I have re-found the enthusiasm for space exploration that I had as a child watching Space Camp, this was back when each launch was played in our classrooms, that is until the fateful day that Challenger exploded during launch.  I’m not sure I ever saw a launch live at school again.  It is sad that a tragedy such as that could stop us following NASA as closely.  Maybe it was because it was hard to explain to school children that the astronauts on that shuttle were dead and what that meant for us as a nation, those families, or the program itself.


Space is full of unknowns.  There have been deaths along the way.  There were two shuttle explosions, Challenger and later Columbia after their mission was completed that occurred during their re-entry.  There were deaths before that, almost at the very beginning of the United States space exploration, Apollo 1 caught fire during a Launch-pad test.  Apollo 1 showed the risks.  A cellphone that we carry in our pockets now has more technology in it then they had when the first manned spacecraft went into space.  If we could launch a man into space with that little bit of technology, what can we do now?


It has amazed me during the last few months how many people seemed to be relieved that the program was ending, stating that the cost was too much.  When informed how little NASA actually gets of the federal budget these people were surprised, they all seemed to think it was much, much more.  They also seemed surprised to learn what all NASA has given us technologically speaking.  They did not know it was NASA who gave us Velcro, Tevlon, Light-weight metal alloys that we use in bathrooms/kitchens/in vehicles, they didn’t know it was communications technology from NASA that helped make modern cellphones available and usable by the public, or the amount of medical research that is done in space.


Other people were unaware of the discontinuation of the shuttle program and shocked to learn about it.  They just assumed it was going as strong as ever.  Some don’t realize that the shuttle program was around for about 30 years now, that it could only ever go to low earth orbit.  I acknowledge that now that the international space station is build, our need of the shuttle is less.  They don’t need the large cargo bay to hall up parts to the station.  I do think we’d be better off keeping one shuttle in working order, just in case, until we have our next vehicle available for space travel.  (This point has been proved with the crash of the Russian vehicle into space…could ending our shuttle program bring about the ending of the ISS many years earlier then planned?)


Where is NASA going now?  Will there be further manned space flights from NASA, from the US?  I don’t know.  I sure hope so, and I hope that the American people realize the importance of that dream, of reaching for the stars!  The dream of being an astronaut is important for our children.  It keeps the imagination open and allows us the dream of going out into the universe, away from Earth to try to find other lifeforms.  It keeps the imaginations going and expands our technology.  It forces us to come up with better communication modes, of faster ways to travel, of ways to keep our astronauts healthy in an anti gravitational environment. The problems we have discovered from space travel have pushed us to keep motivated to change, to find better ways of doing things, and to grow as a people.  Who would have thought when the space shuttle program started back in the 1970s and 1980s that one of our closest allies in the 2000s would be Russia?  That they would be one of the key allies to get our astronauts into space now that we are ending our space shuttle program?


The dream is alive and we need to keep reaching for the stars.  We need to keep our children’s eyes looking up.  As tight as our budgets here on earth are, the jobs that are created by the NASA programs are invaluable to our future.  People just need to open their eyes, see what is there, and dream of touching it.



Jun 242010

On May 13th I went with several friends to Annapolis, camera in hand.  I have been to Annapolis many times, but 0nly once before with camera in hand.  Each season has it’s own beauty but few pictures were obtained in the wet, cold snow that was falling on that visit.  To me, Annapolis is a beautiful city that is intriguing because there is so much history laden there.  There is an atmosphere to the city that brings with it the past, the present, and the future.  There is a mixture of the ocean and land there as the city centers on the ocean.

Annapolis is the home of the United States Naval Academy, but alas, because 3 of the 4 in our party were toting large camera bags with us, we were unable to enter the grounds.  This is a warning to all photographers, no large bags are allowed on the Naval Academy grounds, nothing larger then a medium sized purse I believe.  So carry all your gear around your neck or in pockets.  I know from past visits to Annapolis that there are many things to photograph at the academy and well worth the hassle!

There is a lot of history to be found in Annapolis, there is also many modern things to be found there.  There are several Starbucks in town, many places to shop, and of course there are many maritime related places.  Many birds abide in the harbor along with boats that can all keep a photographer busy for quite sometime.  A couple in our group had never gone somewhere with the specific intention of obtaining photos, and I have to say that Annapolis opened its arms wide to welcome us!

There are many small things that can catch a photographer’s attention, but many large things, too.  I know that I was intrigued by the large buildings such as the Maryland State Capital Building, but there was also wildlife on the harbor and small scenes or pieces that just captured my imagination.  I admit that I love to shoot macro shots, and found many opportunities this day to get great shots of different textures from cut wood to chipping paint.

In the end I had a great day with friends and got some great shots.  Annapolis has something for everyone.  There are many photographic opportunities, but also shops, history, and great food (especially for the seafood lovers out there!).  Annapolis is a beautiful city that has a little for everyone.

More pictures from the day can be found on my Flickr page:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cwiddy/sets/72157624344902652/.

 Posted by at 12:15 am
Jun 182010

This year on May 1st and 2nd at the Carroll County Farm House Museum in Westminister, MD I attended the annual Civil War Living History Re-Enactment with a few photographer friends.  Events like this is a photographer’s dream! There are so many angles that can be taken at an event such as this.  There were re-enactors  of family life, a battle to photography, and just every day moments in family life that could be photographed.  There were people there demonstrating how things were done in history including some physicians and blacksmiths.  There was also music being played by a group, and by individuals.

One of the challenges was to  not be overwhelmed by all there was to see and forget to photograph!  For someone who wanted semi-authentic pictures, it was difficult in some situations to take out the spectators or the things that are modern and not period.  I found cars in the back ground of many of my pictures or spectators not in period garb, but the event is there to teach people about history, not just to live the life style of that era.

Events such as this are great because a photographer can help the re-en-actors teach those who come to the events by catching the moments that take you back in time.  Photographers can catch some of the moments that may make one chuckle such as children dressed in period garb gathering around a vending machine that is very obviously a modern convenience.  One can catch a demonstrator teaching and advertise the events for what it is, an educational experience.  It is also a way to escape from the modern world and life a lifestyle that is very different from what we live today (if becoming one of the re-en-actors).

The Civil War Living History Re-Enactment at the Carroll County Farm Museum was a lot of fun to attend and is a great place for people of all ages.  Photographers, historians, or even those who want a great family activity will love it.  I have more pictures posted on my Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cwiddy/sets/72157623980307704/.

For more information about the Carroll County Farm House Museum and events it sponsors can be found at: http://ccgovernment.carr.org/ccg/farmmus/events.asp.  Information about this specific event can be found at http://ccgovernment.carr.org/ccg/farmmus/docs/civil-war.pdf.  And more information about Civil War Re-enacting can be found at http://www.cwreenactors.com/index.php.