Hijinks in MoCo!

Hey everyone!

Yesterday, I finally got to see my friend Stephanie after almost a year. The last time I actually saw her in person was my last day at UMBC, which was May of last year. So getting to spend a day together was long overdue! On top of that, we were going to be working on getting some material for one of her major Graphic Design projects, so it was almost like a working vacation.

So the day started off with me sleeping in a little bit. Steff and I were scheduled to meet around 2, but since we were going to stick around until nighttime in Silver Spring, we decided to move it to 3:30 so that we could work on day and night shots. That morning was really all just planning out how to get there, what the weather was going to be like, what’s in the area, and all that. I had never been to that area before, so I knew that my reactions to all the surroundings were going to be really fresh and genuine. From where I lived, it actually wasn’t that hard to get there,  but I decided to go a little earlier just to familiarize myself with the area. But when I got behind the wheel of my car, I felt really uncomfortable, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t actually driven a car in a couple of months, so I was trying to figure everything out along the way. I probably adjusted the seat about 7 times while I was driving. On top of that, the traffic on the 95 was ridiculous. I know it’s typical for the mixing bowl, but I was getting boxed in left and right. It was crazy.

I get to the area around 2:45, and it’s actually pretty cold outside. The weather we had leading up to Saturday was getting progressively cooler, and it was only supposed to be 49 that day. So I was pretty much building hopping while I was going around, trying to make sure I stayed warm. Now, the place where we were was really well developed. There was a giant movie theater, more restaurants than I could ever remember seeing in one area, and everything was very local. It was really a great place to be. Then, finally, around 3:30, I met with Stephanie (to a really big hug!), and we took some time to catch up. We talked about how her last semester was going, how my job’s been, and all sorts of stuff. She also brought some cookies, which was also a great idea.

And we also talked about the object of the project we were working on for the day. Now, the idea for the project was to make a brochure using the landmarks, attractions, and people in the area. Basically, we had to take whatever building facades and attractions were in the area, and take pictures of them in such a way that’s unique and appealing the way a brochure would present it. So that would require a lot of interesting angles, focusing on the lighting, color schemes, and playing around with the composition of the pictures. On top of that, there was a ton of stuff to take pictures of, like the AFI Silver Theater, a bunch of the smaller storefronts across the street, and all sorts of architectural structures that looked pretty awesome.

I made it a point to try and do the best job with Steff in terms of looking for the details that would be the most appealing. I didn’t want to be lazy at any point in the day, so I was really focusing! Also, the whole day, the sun was playing tricks on us. It wasn’t exactly cloudy outside, but there was this smoky light from really thin cirrus clouds in the air that the veiled the sun the whole day. So a lot of the shots were pretty dimly lit compared to what it would have been if it was clear. But we still managed to get great shots out there. There was a lot of colors, changes in elevation, and a lot of geometry that worked so well with the pictures. One funny part of the day was when we were standing right in the middle of the courtyard, and we saw two girls sitting on a staircase drinking coffee from Starbucks, and we literally took about 40-50 pictures of them. After about 20 pictures, they kinda caught on, but they didn’t seem to mind a whole lot. Steff said “I’m glad you’re here, because if I was alone, everyone would be like ‘What’s this girl doing taking pictures of us?'” Haha! There was also this little boy that was running around, and he was amazing to take pictures of. We got a lot of good material just from the action going on in that one spot.

Before we went to eat, we were trying to catch a photo of these two guys playing chess in the courtyard, and we were already on the balcony of the second floor of the complex, so an overhead shot of them playing would have looked awesome. The only problem was that the camera couldn’t fit through the bars of the fence, so I got an idea of hanging the camera around my neck and dangling it over the fence while Steff tried to operate the camera through the bars of the fence. Anyone that was watching us try this probably thought we were crazy (and they had pretty good reasoning), but it was definitely worth a try. The one thing about photography for me is that sometimes you have to be crazy to get the shot you want. I’m not sure how the pictures came out, though. We’ll see!

After that, we went to eat at this Vietnamese restaurant, and just looked over the pictures while we were waiting for the food. But Vietnamese restaurants are generally RIDICULOUSLY FAST when it comes to service, so we got through maybe 30 pictures, and our pho was already there! So everything was going smoothly until the fire alarms in the building started going off! It might have been from the Austin Grill downstairs, but everyone was just kinda eating like there was a big argument at the dinner table. Nobody really got up or anything. If this was a department store, people would have been clearing out, but the waiters didn’t seem to be reacting to it a whole lot.

We finished eating, and the sun still hadn’t set at that point, so we couldn’t go about taking the nighttime pictures until it got a little darker, so we decided to get some ice cream at Cold Stone! Even though it was freezing outside, it still seemed like a good idea. I got a small blueberry/strawberry mix, and Steff got this Mint/Chocolate mix. I was still full from the dinner we ate, but Steff just crushed her cup of ice cream, and teased me for the half hour that I took trying to finish mine. While we were there, we also started playing around with the camera app on my iPhone, which yielded some really dorky stuff like this:

I think the sugar was getting to our heads! We took 5 other videos in the time, and a bunch of pictures, too. Haha, but then after we got out of there, it still wasn’t exactly dark, so we ran into the Borders to check out the music and magazines they had. Finally, the sun went down, and we went about taking more pictures in the same spots that we did in the daytime, although now, all the lights were on, so now we had all this backlighting and contrast that we could use. The biggest thing we tried to get which never seemed to work was the Discovery Communications building, which we must have tried to take a picture of maybe 30 times, but it didn’t work any way we tried it. It was a bummer since it’s this massive building with good features to it, but oh well.

Towards the end of the day, Steff found one of her friends from UMBC (who I’ve actually met before, although I was never formally introduced to him). He worked at the American Apparel, so we decided to stop in and say hi. It turns out, he was actually going to be moving across the country really soon, so it was definitely a good time to walk in to see how he was doing. But finally, we got to the end of our trip. I had a blast the whole day, and I hope that I still get a chance to do stuff like this again. It also compelled me to actually get one of those camera, since it was so fun getting to work with it. The whole day never felt like we were actually working on a project, and that’s what I loved the most about it.

Of course, after we had said goodbye, I was halfway out of the parking garage when I realized I didn’t give Steff the birthday present I had made for her! It was bad because I was thinking about it the whole way home, but it also gives us more reasons to see each other again, so I didn’t worry too much about it =]

So to Steff, thank you so much once again for the awesome day out! We probably should have been doing stuff like this a long long time ago, but we still have time before you have to head out to Korea, so we’ll plan accordingly!

Of course, today seems a lot lazier compared to how productive I was yesterday. The only thing I really did today was wake up, it seems. Haha! I did play in a poker tournament today, and I ran really well. The tournament started with 10,000 people, and I finished in 566th place. So the top 5% is absolutely fine with me! I was just feeling great, and I always play well when I’m happy. I do need to make plans to see a bunch of people over the next few weeks when I can, barring any days where I have to work Saturday. I badly need a trip to UMBC, and I feel that any Monday is the best day that I can do it. I can’t really take off work mid-week because of the stuff I have to do, and trying to head up on Friday/Saturday/Sunday is uneventful because everyone leaves campus on weekends. Monday is almost a guarantee a lot of the time, so I could aim for that. Steff’s birthday also happens to land on a Monday, so maybe some arrangements can be made. =]

Alright, I gotta find something to do for now. Go have a great Sunday!

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