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[From the Archives] Obama Inauguration, January 2009


From time to time, I will use these “From the Archives” posts to highlight some of my photography from the period before I started this blog in late 2009. These photos have been publicly available on Flickr for some time but they have never before been featured on this blog. I hope you enjoy this blast from the past!

Four years ago (give or take a day) I was on a brief trip to the US that combined my grandmother’s 90th birthday celebration in South Carolina with a road trip up to Washington, D.C. to see the historic inauguration of Barack Obama to the office of the President.

Although as campaign volunteer for Clinton way back in 1992 I had met the then-Governor-Clinton and later had been invited to his first inauguration (along with untold numbers of other campaign workers), for one reason or another I never made it up to DC. So Obama’s was my first inauguration, and it was quite the event. Hundreds of thousands of us rose in the predawn darkness, frozen solid by the time we even got to the Mall at 4:30am, happy that we had made it into the closest “public” area to the Capitol, but reasonably sure we were still only going to be seeing Mr Obama on the TV screens as there was little hope of actually being able to discern him in person.

Obama Inauguration 09

As the actual swearing-in was not until noon, we waited for seven hours in sub-freezing temperatures, bundled into every item of cold weather gear we could scrounge, standing on space blankets to try in vain to stop the cold from seeping up through the frozen soil on the Mall, watching the sun come up.

Obama Inauguration 09

Obama Inauguration 09

It was a fun day when all is said and done, though, because the crowd were so energised, it was like a festival. Of course there was a huge African-American contingent, as would be appropriate for the inauguration of the first black president, and everywhere you looked people flashed beaming smiles at you, black, white, or otherwise.

Obama Inauguration 09

Obama Inauguration 09

At some point in the morning they rebroadcast Stevie Wonder performing “Higher Ground” at the pre-inauguration concert from the previous day and this really got everybody fired up. From then on, as the sun began to impart the tiniest amount of warmth, the Mall took on a festival-like atmosphere.

Obama Inauguration 09

Obama Inauguration 09

Soon enough it was time for business, and the thrum of excitement ratcheted up as the TV screens showed Obama waiting to be shown out onto the terrace of the Capitol. The rest, as they say, is history….

Obama Inauguration 09

Obama Inauguration 09

Obama Inauguration 09

Of course, once the (flubbed) oath of office and the speech finished, there were upwards of 1.8 million people in and around the Mall who had to find some way of getting away, and after trying in vain for an hour or so to find a Metro stop that wasn’t completely ram-jammed, we decided to walk back over the frozen Potomac to Virginia so that we could pick up transportation there. It was worth it though, to have been there and been part of the event.

Obama Inauguration 09

The next day I returned to the Mall as I had some free time, and saw them cleaning up after the festivities. If anything the ground looked even more desolate and frozen than the day before.

The Day After: Cleaning Up After the Inauguration

The Day After: Cleaning Up After the Inauguration

After a short tour of the Capitol building (during which I tried in vain to see if we could get out onto the platform to pretend to be taking the oath) the few tourists who decided to brave the cold for the second day in a row all seemed to drift down towards the White House, where we knew Obama was settling into his first full day in office…

The White House

Of course, that was a different time, and a lot has happened since then. We are not so hopeful and bright eyed as we were four years ago, and in many ways we are more divided. But maybe the President can conjure up a little more of that Obama magic today…

[From the Archives] Photos from Marrakech, Morocco

March 22, 2012 2 comments

From time to time, I will use these “From the Archives” posts to highlight some of my photography from the period before I started this blog in 2009. These photos have been publicly available on Flickr for some time but they have never before been featured on this blog. I hope you enjoy this blast from the past!

Waaaaay back in the early days of 2008 I popped over to Morocco for a brief (very brief) look around Marrahech, from the old medina surrounding the central square Jemaa al-Fna, including the myriad alleyways with mysterious doorways opening into stunning riads to the simultaneously fascinating and annoying souk – annoying due to very very persistent touts, but enjoyable nonetheless. Outside the centre were various palaces and mosques to be enjoyed, but the highlight was the beautiful Majorelle Gardens and their heritage buildings.

Arrival at Marrakech
Arrival at Marrakech

Rose atop the Dar Silsila
Rose atop the Dar Silsila

Souk Beggar
Souk Beggar

More photos below the fold, simply click below:
Read more…

[From the Archives] Japan, November 2007

January 20, 2012 1 comment

From time to time, I will use these “From the Archives” posts to highlight some of my photography from the period before I started this blog in 2009. These photos have been publicly available on Flickr for some time but they have never before been featured on this blog. I hope you enjoy this blast from the past!

JAPAN
Back in November 2007, I took a 2 week photo holiday to Southern Japan. Like many Westerners I had been fascinated with Japan since I was a child – every boy goes through a ninja phase, after all – and I had a growing appreciation for the refined nature of their culture, especially their cuisine. I came to Japan with many preconceived notions, somewhat expecting everyone to be demure, deferential and bowing non-stop, but I quickly realised – of course – that the Japanese are human after all, and a few rowdy nights in izakaya and out on the streets of Harajuku and Osaka quickly put paid to my hackneyed stereotypes. The Japanese people were generally very kind and even inquisitive, and it was a joy to travel through this land, and, barring the occasional instance of having no clue where I was or how to read the signs, I had one of the most perfect times imaginable. I am looking forward to returning to this fascinating land.

Below are a small selection of the thousands of photos I took during my travels through Japan:

Girl dressed for "Seven Five Three" ceremony, Yoyogi Park
Girl dressed for "Seven Five Three" ceremony, Yoyogi Park, Tokyo

Parental Encouragement, Yoyogi Park
Parental Encouragement, Yoyogi Park, Tokyo

Tokyo Rockabilly Club
Tokyo Rockabilly Club, Harajuku

Shinjuku Girls
Shinjuku Girls, Shinjuku, Tokyo

Toshogu Shrine Roof, Nikko
Toshogu Shrine Roof, Nikko

Sunset from Kyoto Graveyard
Sunset from Kyoto Graveyard

Heian Shrine, Kyoto
Heian Shrine, Kyoto

House on the Pond in Gardens of Heian Shrine, Kyoto
House on the Pond in Gardens of Heian Shrine, Kyoto

Mini Zen Rock Garden, Roan-ji, Kyoto
Mini Zen Rock Garden, Roan-ji, Kyoto

Entrance to Senso-Ji, Asakusa
Entrance to Senso-Ji, Asakusa, Tokyo

Lanterns, Yasaka Shrine, Kyoto
Lanterns, Yasaka Shrine, Kyoto

Himeji Castle
Samurai Castle at Himeji

Itsukushima Shrine by Night, Miyajima
Itsukushima Shrine by Night, Miyajima

Morning at Torii Gate, Miyajima
Morning at Torii Gate, Miyajima

Owakaduni Hot Springs, Hakone
Owakaduni Hot Springs, Hakone

Fuji-San
Mount Fuji from Hakone

Hakone Lake Panoramic (Mt Fuji in Background)
Moto-Hakone Lake Panoramic (Mt Fuji in Background)

Backlit trees and Maniden Roof, Shoshasan
Backlit trees and Maniden Roof, Shoshasan, near Himeji

Incense Smoke, Engakuji Temple, Kamakura
Incense Smoke, Engakuji Temple, Kamakura

Temple Roof Detail, Shoshasan
Temple Roof Detail, Shoshasan, near Himeji

Inari Kitsune Statue, Toshogu Shrine, Ueno Park
Inari Kitsune Statue, Toshogu Shrine, Ueno Park, Tokyo

Temple Gate Detail, Engakuji Temple
Temple Gate Detail, Engakuji Temple, Kamakura

More of my Japan 2007 photos can be found over on Flickr.