138 Photos - Jul 2, 2011
Photo: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

I wandered in here off the National Mall one day and thought two things:

Boy, this place is great!
Boy, did I ever pick the wrong day to come here.
Leave it to me to visit a popular museum on President’s Day Weekend. This place was packed with people. Tired people. Some of them cranky people, too. I guess that’s what happens when you shove a bunch of people in close proximity to each other. I actually prefer to avoid tourist destinations on major holidays. That’s one of the reasons that I picked February. I even avoided Valentine’s Day. Plumb forgot about President’s Day, which was something of a major error on my part. So much for this being a slow time in Washington, D.C.

Adding to the mass frustration was the fact that this museum seems to know absolutely nothing about crowd control. People are like water. They seek the path of least resistance. When they get to an end without another path or escape, they pool together. That’s what happened here. I followed a walkway of exhibits until I ran into a crowd of resistance. Turns out there was no way out, except the way that we came inside. Maybe the Smithsonian folks need to visit Walt Disney World to learn how it’s done.

Crowd control aside, it’s an astounding place to visit to see dead animals that I never knew existed. Someone remind me to go back when it’s not as crowded.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: The White House


You’ve probably seen this view of The White House from Pennsylvania Avenue a thousand times before. It’s an iconic scene and I wanted my own little take on it, just as so many others before me. During the walk up the street, I was wondering if the view would work out or not. It seemed like they were preparing for some event (which turned out to be a blues concert including Mick Jagger). There are plenty of uniformed Secret Service officers around, but I was more worried whether I’d walk into some group of protestors. Fortunately, it didn’t happen.

I got to the fence and started looking for my spot, slowly walking and looking through the iron bars. I already knew the fountain would be off-center of the White House, but I don’t know who to blame for that visual faux pas. Then I just setup my tripod, leaned it against the fence, and hit the shutter. As my frames were clicking off, one of the Secret Service officers approached me to say I couldn’t use my tripod there. By the time he finished, I had all of my exposures. I apologized for my error. Honestly, I didn’t know, but I wasn’t surprised. He was pretty cool about it, letting me know that there wasn’t any problem using the tripod on Pennsylvania Avenue (since traffic is blocked off there), or back in Lafayette Square.

After I got my shot, I headed up the avenue to Old Ebbitt Grill, had a great lunch, and pondered the rest of my day. Sometimes you really can just take a click and go.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Savannah’s Lucas Theatre

The Lucas Theatre in Savannah really caught my eye on an evening photo walk. I only spent a night in Savannah during my trip home from the D.C. area, but it was a cool place to walk around and explore. Live music playing through the air, plenty of restaurants and activity, old oak trees and some great old buildings to explore. The marquee on this theatre grabbed my attention.

One thing I like about visiting historic old places is looking at the detail and intricacies used in buildings. It’s much more fascinating than looking at another glass-panel office building.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Escape from Hoover Dam!

These steps inside of Hoover Dam are the ultimate stair master! They’re at such a steep angle that they have more in common with a ladder than a staircase. Just imagine being deep inside this mammoth concrete structure and something goes wrong – like a power failure or explosion. The elevators aren’t working or safe to use, so you need another way out. This is it, folks. You’d be trudging up these stairs, perhaps in the dark if the lighting fails. Kind of creepy, isn’t it? Just think how creepy it would be to get stuck without those stairs and they suddenly look a bit friendlier.
Why I'm Not Switching to Lightroom 4

Photographers on the Internet are all buzzing about the latest product from Adobe, but is it worth switching if you use another product? Not for me. Check out the blog to see why I don't think it makes sense to switch to Lightroom 4.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: The Capitol Crypt

Did you expect to find a crypt in the U.S Capitol? I didn’t, but it’s there under the Capitol dome – complete with a star to mark the center, just like on the floor above it. I’m told the original plan was for this to be the final resting place of President George Washington, but they apparently didn’t consult him about the matter. His will directed that his remains stay at Mount Vernon, and so there they rest.

So what do you do with a crypt and dead president? You wait for another president to die. This is where presidents are lain in state for public viewing. Fortunately, it isn’t needed for that purpose very often, so it’s become part of the Capitol tour.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: U.S. Capitol Sunrise Reflection

The U.S. Capitol building is a pretty popular subject for photographers. A quick search on Google Images revealed 39.5 Million results! What do you do when you want a photo of something that’s been done to death? In my case, it depends upon my mood. Sometimes I really want that traditional shot that everyone gets. That can be a good starting place while I let my mind start to unwind and consider alternatives.

You can really admire someone else’s photograph of a subject and start to create the same composition, but then something happens. You start to see elements that you don’t like in the composition. Maybe you don’t have the right lens. The weather or some circumstances may be different. You may see some element that wasn’t in the frame of the photo you liked, and decide to use it.

It doesn’t hurt to have a bag of tricks to use, either. There are some elements that typically work well for photographs. Sunrises or sunsets. Warm & cool colors. Reflections. Instead of thinking about how I can make a subject interesting, I look for opportunities to find an interesting environment around a subject. There’s always something different.

My Review of The Digital Photography Books by Scott Kelby

I bought The Digital Photography Book, Part 4 by Scott Kelby a few days ago and thought it was another great addition to the series. Having found myself quite pleased with each one, I decided to write down my thoughts in a short review. If you haven’t checked out these books, please take a look at the review and perhaps it will give you a better idea of what you get in this series.
Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: The Colorful Lanterns

I made it into Las Vegas shortly after the Palazzo unveiled this display for the Year of the Dragon. Although it isn’t very prominent in this shot (only the tail is showing), the dragon is enormous. What fascinated me were all of the lanterns hanging from the atrium. The colors and spacing really captured my attention After all, there are plenty of dragons around town (the Bellagio Conservatory has a spectacular display that I’ll share in the future), but an atrium full of lanterns is a bit unique.

Now if they ever celebrate something with an atrium full of piñatas, I’m bringing a really long stick to Las Vegas.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Capitol Hall of Columns

This is another area of the U.S. Capitol building that just displays beauty and grandeur in architecture. The corridor is about 100 feet long and lined with 28 columns. It also includes part of the National Statuary Hall Collection of statues donated by the states. You can see one of my favorites on the right – Father Damien (now Saint Damien since 2009) by Hawaii.

I’ll say it again. If you haven’t visited the U.S. Capitol, it should be on your must-see list. I could spend days taking photos in here, if only they’d let me.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Old St. Mary's Church

I found Old St. Mary’s church just by walking around in Washington, D.C., just looking for something interesting. After turning a corner, I found it. Sometimes, you get lucky. Sometimes, you just have to be prepared to accept luck when it comes your way.

Not wanting to disrupt anyone, I entered quietly and looked for a Priest or someone to ask if they minded whether I took a few photos. Never found someone in a white collar or a habit, but a nice lady who was cleaning up told me it was no problem, so take all the pictures I wanted. Very nice! I didn’t overstay my welcome, just shooting from a few different places and then made my way out, searching for the next piece of good luck to come my way.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Ride Through the Mountains of Zion National Park

One of the benefits of a relatively warm winter this year is that this road isn’t covered with snow & ice. Sadly, I didn’t have my motorcycle on this trip. Then again, I wouldn’t have this photo if I had ridden that day, so it’s all good.

During my first stay at Zion National Park, I asked some of the locals in Springdale about the weather and the best time of year to visit. They told me that Zion only has two kinds of weather:

1: Too damn hot!
2: Too damn cold!

That aside, most folks agreed that September was an ideal time to visit. It turns out that February wasn’t so bad when it’s a warm winter, too.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: View of the National Mall from the Balcony of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

Photographers can be very picky about when and where they take photographs. Sometimes that’s within our control, and other times there are opportunities that arise and you can take it or leave it. This shot is a combination of both circumstances happening at once. I would love to stand here over a Spring or Summer sunset and take photos. However, the only reason I was able to take this photo at all was because I planned my trip during a planned recess of the House of Representatives. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be allowed out here. Even so, the opportunity was something of a midday happenstance.

At first glance, I was a bit disappointed by all the construction along the mall. My guide informed me of a universal truth. Washington, D.C. is always under construction or renovation. There are rarely perfect times to visit and avoid seeing some disruption. It reminds me of the old joke that Florida’s state bird is the construction crane. The same would be true here if cities were represented by birds.

People say that we need change in Washington. Well, there you go. It’s changing every day.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Upsetting Marines Before Sunrise

I was driving north on I-95 toward Arlington for my recent trip to Washington, D.C. That’s when I noticed this huge THING just sticking up over the treeline on the right side. It was a massive metal structure unlike anything I had ever seen before. It suddenly dawned on me what was happening. Aliens had finally landed en masse on Earth and they were here to subjugate us. No other explanation was plausible.

Having escaped the area unharmed, I had to know just what was happening in Triangle, VA. Once I got to me hotel, I discovered that this was the National Museum of the Marine Corps. It was a bit more of a drive outside of the DC area than I wanted to make during my stay, so I planned to catch it on the drive home. Fortunately, it didn’t move. I left Arlington quite early and arrived at the Marine Corps museum about sunrise.

That’s when I apparently did something the Marines didn’t want me to do. They have no problem with me taking this shot, but then I climbed a hill off to the side to get a different perspective on that huge…what is that? It’s not really a cone or a dome. Whatever it is, I though I had a nice shot. Then someone came outside and yelled at me for being up on that hill. At least they didn’t shoot me, so I declared success and left.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: The Hoover Dam at Sunset

There’s something about being at the Hoover Dam watching a sunset that you just can’t convey in a photo like this one. Gnats. Billions and billions of gnats swarming all around my head, getting on my lens, and generally wreaking havoc with the peaceful evening I hoped to have that evening.

Like any other sunset I photograph, I was hoping for clouds. It would’ve been nice, but I generally don’t see them in this part of the world early in the year. At least, not the kind of clouds I wanted in the sky. Instead, it was just a cloud of gnats.

If you haven’t visited the Hoover Dam before, I’ll give you a little tip. Look in the center of the photo at those little rows of glowing orange lights. You pay $7 to park there. Go across the dam to where I took this photo. It’s free to park in the lot over here on the Arizona side.

Happy motoring.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Bellagio Fountains


It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve watched the Bellagio Fountain show, I always stop to watch. This is one of the most popular free attractions in Las Vegas. What is it about flowing water with accompanying music that attracts so many people? When I think about it, I never really connect that much between the swaying streams of water and the notes of the music. They could probably press a button to generate a random water show to a decent song and I’d be just as happy.

People line up along the sidewalk, pressed against the rail. Some try to take pictures, others record video. The smart ones, though, are probably the people who just enjoy it for what it is – a pleasant break from the pressures of vacationing.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: George Washington’s Tomb

Having visited Mount Vernon for a while, I can understand perfectly why George Washington lived here for 45 years. It’s beautiful and idyllic. Maybe my opinion would changed if I visited when some of those sloping hills were covered with snow and ice, but it was perfect for my trip. I wandered around the property away from the main house, trying to get away from the crowds of school children visiting when I happened to come across the tomb. My visit was shortly after President’s Day weekend, on what turned out to be Washington’s actual birthday. Two Masons were there, paying respects at the tomb. We had a nice chat for a while, along with one of the staff members. It was a perfect place to spend my last day in the D.C. area.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Inside the Udvar-Hazy National Air & Space Museum

This is the view inside America’s Hanger once you pass through security. You walk straight out to a platform and see this collection of aviation history. With that in mind, pretty much everyone who visits takes this shot. Why should I be any different?

Every time I visit this museum, I see things in a slightly different way. Then I get home and realize that I could have taken a shot from another angle that I didn’t think about. That’s one of the reasons why photographers go back to the same place many times. Sometimes it’s because things change. Sometimes it’s because the photographer changes.

The only thing that doesn’t seem to change is that the food service in the Smithsonian museums is always McDonald’s. I had my first (and last) taste of Chicken McNuggets here.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Dragon Lanterns


Happy Friday the Thirteenth

Are you superstitious? I know so many people who worry on Friday the 13th, but they don’t even know the origin of the superstition. Look at it this way. If you’re not a Templar Knight, then you can probably rest easy today. For the rest of you, I thought I’d share some Chinese New Year lanterns with some lucky colors. Maybe you’ll need it today.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Lincoln's Temple

I finally got some quiet time inside the Lincoln Memorial. No student groups and hardly anyone else around. On one of my last days in the D.C. area, I woke up early to get a dawn photo over the Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial. Once I had those shots, I drove over the bridge to Potomac Park and hiked up the stairs for this shot. Even though the sun was still barely over the horizon, there were still folks lingering around. A few young men in suits sat on the steps. A group of Marines came running along and charged up the stairs. Well, most of them. A few admitted to going up the ramp and they were told “Go run the stairs! We don’t cheat ourselves.”

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: The Old Hall of the House

For about 50 years, this was the meeting place of the House of Representatives. Now it’s the main home of the National Statuary. Each state gets to donate two statues to the U.S. Capitol National Statuary (that’s a mouthful!). Of course, it’s up to the states to decide which statues they want to donate. I’m told it seemed like a really good idea – until the weight of all those statues started to crack the floor and raised a danger of disaster. You can see some of the heads of statues in the bottom of this photo, but now they have many of those statues spread out around the Capitol building.

So, you may be wondering why I don’t have a picture here of the statues. Honestly, it’s because I’m weird. I looked at those columns and the dome with more interest than most of the statues. Not that there’s anything wrong with the statues – they’re fine works of art and each is interesting in its own way. The two statues from Hawaii made the biggest impression upon me, but neither of them are in this hall. I’m just thrilled with columns and domes. Not to mention the colors. Lots of opportunity to play with those colors. I almost made this a black white because of the lines, but I just could not bring myself to sacrifice those colors.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: THE ORNATE MEETING ROOM OF CAPITOL HILL

During my tour of the U.S. Capitol, my guide did a great job of showing me everything she could. We just started opening doors, unless there was a sign, a lock, or a person to tell us not to go in there. This was one of those surprises – at least for me. Perhaps she knows the purpose of this room, but I’m guessing it started out as the Capitol bordello. Whether it was a bedroom or a boardroom, I’m guessing someone got screwed over in here before.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Say Hello to Suburbia Press

I’m excited to announce the launch of a new site – http://suburbiapress.com. Having spent the past few months developing new eBooks, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to create a separate storefront from this blog. Partly due to technical eCommerce reasons, and partly due business reasons. Some of the eBook and video ideas I have for future projects aren’t necessarily about photography or me, so a separate site seemed appropriate.

Would you mind doing a favor for me? I could use your help in spreading the word about Suburbia Press and the eBooks on the site. Won’t you please share this post with your friends & followers? I can even make it worth your while if you’re interested in participating in as an affiliate with Suburbia Press. Just send e-mail to info@suburbiapress if you’re interested in becoming an affiliate. Thanks!

There are two eBooks available now and more are in the pipeline.


Professional Photography Workflow with Aperture

Apple Aperture 3 is a great tool for organizing your photos and controlling your workflow. There’s more to workflow than having a tool, though. You need a process to manage your photos from import to output. Having spent most of my life designing and implementing processes for information systems, I’ve developed a workflow that’s easy to understand, implement and operate.

HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

-Understand Aperture’s tools and how to use them to organize your photos and other digital assets
-How to create a good workflow environment with your storage and backup strategies
-How to create presets that do most of the work for you as you import your photos
-Simplify your review process to make it fast & easy to spot your best photos
-How to make the most of metadata to find the images you want
-Learn how to build a library once that you can re-use many times over again

This eBook doesn’t just show you what tools exist in Aperture. You’ll learn how to use these tools as part of a comprehensive workflow that you can build to simplify your workflow, yet remain flexible enough to use any criteria you want to organize and retriever your photos.

Basic Photography Techniques

Designed for people who want stop relying upon automatic exposure modes and learn how to take control of the camera, Basic Photography Techniques is a foundation eBook that discusses the elements you need to understand to capture your creative vision.

The good news is that the mechanics of photography are easy to learn. It’s something everyone should know how to do, like riding a bike, tying your shoelaces, or flipping a pancake. It only seems complicated until you try it. You shouldn’t have to struggle with your tools because of a mere lack of information. It’s important to understand what goes into making a photograph so you can concentrate on the creative aspects of creating a compelling image.

HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

-How to use your camera’s internal light meter
-Understand the exposure triangle – Aperture, ISO and Shutter Speed
-How to make a correct exposure
-How to change the variable to make a creative exposure
-How your focal length affects your composition

Both are available at http://suburbiapress.com
The Congressional Reading Room

This seemed like an appropriate photo to share today. Take a peek inside the private reading room for members of Congress inside the Library of Congress. It’s a warm & inviting room, complete with a large marble fireplace on the other end of the room. It’s nice to know that you can have a comfy seat in one of the world’s greatest libraries – assuming you can get elected to Congress.Photo: Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: One Thin*A Muse*

I like to wander around the resorts when I visit Las Vegas. There are always familiar scenes and there are new decorations. It’s a bit of a mix. The lobby of The Venetian is one of those familiar things that I like to shoot. I keep trying to find a time when it’s empty, but that’s not easy. Las Vegas is a 24×7 town and this lobby is pretty popular. So, I didn’t get the shot I had in mind on this trip.

Instead, I found this musician resting on the fountain and a muse struck me. It wasn’t what I had in mind, but that’s one of the things I like about photography. Sometimes you get something you didn’t anticipate.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Washington Rises in the Eye of the Rotunda

“The Apotheosis” is the fresco by Constantino Brumidi depicting the rise of George Washington from Man to God. It’s not surprising that he would visualize things in such a way. Before painting inside the U.S. Capitol, he painted inside the Vatican and European palaces. It’s beautiful art – mostly ignored by many Capitol visitors who fail to look up – residing high above the center point of Washington, D.C. Apparently, someone forgot to tell him about that whole separation of Chuch & State thing.

While Washington gets deified, he isn’t the only American among the Roman Gods in the fresco. Benjamin Franklin, Robert Fulton & Samuel Morse have a place among the Sciences. Minerva hands a bag of money to Robert Morris. There’s also a surprising amount of technology represented – the Transatlantic Cable, a McCormick Reaper and a Steam Engine. The fresco is literally a short story of the United States of America up into the mid-1800′s.

I generally prefer to avoid taking photos of art, at least for the sake of publishing them here. When I learned that most people never look up to see this wonderful piece of art & history, I thought it deserved an exception to my rule. Next time you’re in the Capitol Rotunda, surrounded by amazing art on the walls – look up.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Iwo Jima Sunrise

The recipe for this kind of shot is pretty simple. Get out of bed at Oh-Dark-Thirty and be at the location an hour before sunrise with your camera mounted on a tripod. Why so early? Because the light is more dramatic before the sun actually rises. That’s why you need to be there before the the Earth rotates into full view of the sun’s black body radiation. You just want the stuff on the fringe with long wavelengths, right? It’s also because the sun sets on the other side, and the background would then be a 7-11 and some nondescript buildings. Kinda sucks just to think about that angle. It also sucks to have to wake up and be on the move before the Marines get up, but sometimes that’s just the way it is.

Don’t worry, they caught up with me by the time I made it down to the Lincoln Memorial.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: The Forgotten Fisheye View of City Center

I don’t take many photos using a fisheye lens. I have a good reason, too. It’s because I don’t own a fisheye lens. Apparently, I was in Las Vegas a year ago – with a fisheye. I say “apparently” because I was digging through my travel library and found this shot. I don’t really have any memory of being there at that time, or using a fisheye lens. Whatever I did, I hope to hell that I had fun doing it.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Jefferson

Apparently, the rules of photography state that you’re not permitted to put your subject dead-center in the frame. At least, that’s what I’m told. I never got the manual. On the other hand, the rules also state that once you know the rules, you can break the rules. Seems rather contradictory to me, but I’m sure it’s in the manual. It was probably written by committee and was the result of some great compromise between Centrists and Extremists. Photography, as you know, is quite political. You could probably get in trouble just for looking at this photo.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: The Secret Lego Playground of Washington, D.C.

This is one of those cool museums in the world that doesn’t mind if you bring a tripod along with your camera. I stopped by hear and tried to grab some shots handheld one day, and then I noticed a ton of other photographers there with tripods. When I asked one of the folks who worked there about using a tripod, he just said, “Sure, bring it.” That was all I needed to know, so I came back later to make some – I hope – better shots on a stable platform.

One of the things that I liked about this place was that parents brought their kids inside, apparently just to play in the main hall. I’m not sure how much else there is to do inside this museum, other than look at the spectacular architecture and design. I just thought it was cool that a family could stop inside, relax, and let the kids run around & play a bit.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: THE SECRET CONGRESSIONAL AUDITORIUM


You’ve probably seen the Senate Chamber or the House of Representatives Chamber on the evening news or CSPAN before, but have you ever seen this room? Located under the Capitol Building, this auditorium is an alternate place for Congress to meet. Why? One reason could be due to the attacks that have happened on Congress over the years. For example, there are still bullet holes inside the House of Representatives from the 1954 attack by Puerto Rican nationalists. Two U.S. Capitol Police officers were shot & killed in 1998. The first assassination attempt on a U.S. President – Andrew Jackson – happened in the Capitol Building.

How would the business of government continue if a new attack happened in one of the chambers of Congress? Apparently, those who lived through it would come downstairs and meet here. The show must go on.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Inside the Hoover Dam

Did you know that you can take a tripod inside the Hoover Dam? I couldn’t take my camera bag (it was too big for their size restrictions), but I could take my D700, a couple of lenses and a tripod. Basically, I carried my camera mounted to the tripod in one hand and a $2000 lens in the other hand, switching off where necessary. Wasn’t my brightest decision, but I got out without dropping any expensive glass down a seemingly endless pit of concrete. That would’ve been bad.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: George Washington’s Farm

Having read a lot of Revolutionary War history, I’m struck by the number of our Founding Fathers who wrote about their desire to be almost anywhere else. Most of them just wanted to go home to their farm and live a simple life. Yet, of course, they kept getting drawn back into public life – either as warriors, ambassadors, representatives or even presidents.

To be honest, I never put that much stock into those writings. Yes, I’m sure they felt pressure quite frequently and wished for a reprieve. There’s nothing like home for comfort. However, I suspected there was a part of them that craved their public position. Once I finally visited Mount Vernon, I re-evaluated that position. Washington lived on some of the most idyllic property I could imagine. I’m sure he would’ve rather spent the winter on his farm instead of Valley Forge. It’s his own damn fault, though. If he hadn’t started the French-Indian War, we could still be proper British subjects.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: George Washington in the Rotunda

Poor George. Everyone else had all these plans and schemes to honor him, but all he wanted to do was relax on his farm. He knew they would name the new Federal City after him. He also knew they wanted to bury him below this floor in the crypt – ever present for people to view. Of course, George thwarted that plan in his will. It didn’t matter, though. One way or another, folks were bound and determined to have some view of George Washington in the very center of the city that bears his name. Nobody would defy his last will, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t have a statue of him looking up at a painting depicting his rise from Man to God.

In the end, the politicians always get their way.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: The Twin Dragons of Bellagio

I wonder what it’s like to build your own dragon? The folks at the Bellagio built a lot of them to display for Chinese New Year. Moving, breathing, snorting smoke and snapping jaws. It’s like a middle school science project on steroids. As much as I appreciate the constructions, it really blows me away at night when the color and light takes on a new character. The changing scenes of the Conservatory are part of the allure in Las Vegas that keeps calling me back for another visit.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: STRIPSTEAK at Mandalay Bay

I love photographing restaurants in Las Vegas. They seem to have such wonderful design, style and color. STRIPSTEAK is one of those restaurants in Mandalay Bay that I passed every day during Photoshop World on my way to the conference center, so I had to grab a shot of it.

Since I was working on my review of the Nikon 14-24mm lens, it seemed like a good opportunity to process this photo I shot with the 14-24mm lens. I’m consistently blown away by the quality of this lens.
Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns

The Tomb of the Unknowns has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930. I spent quite a bit of time at Arlington National Cemetery on my last trip. I took a few photos, but most of the time, I just observed. This shot was just before the changing of the guard. Very precise people, these guards. Twenty-one paces in each direction, twenty-one second pause before turning around, always keeping their rifle on the shoulder away from the Tomb itself.

When the Sergeant came out for the changing of the guard, it was interesting to note the precision of everyone’s movements. They didn’t talk. During their paces, one of them could not see the other behind him, yet everyone remained in perfect sync. Of course, they’ve practiced and drilled many times to achieve their precision. One web site said that each guard spends five hours each day preparing his uniform for the duty. It’s a special duty and one that these guards don’t take lightly. It’s somewhat refreshing to observe that kind of dedication.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Winged Victory of Samothrace
#Vegas 

Caesars Palace in Las Vegas is full of replicas of statues featuring Roman (Greek) Gods. Millions of people walk past this statue of the Goddess Victory every year, most likely thinking she’s a headless angel. After all, it’s hard to see the plaque on the base of the statue. I wonder if people would be any more concerned that their tennis shoes were named after her? I’m told the Greeks called her Nike.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Portofino Spring

I shot this a couple of years ago and the wind was kicking up something fierce. All of those little boats in the harbor were bobbing around in the water, tugging on their anchor lines. Of course, that just made me curious. Who leaves a dinghy tied up in the middle of the water like that? What are you supposed to do – jump out and swim to shore? It makes no sense to me. A yacht, sure, but not a dinghy.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Far Too Many
If you should ever visit Arlington National Cemetery (and you should) or any other the nation’s other U.S. National Cemeteries, you may end up having the same thought that I had here. There are just far too many lives represented here that were cut short. It’s both humbling and reassuring to visit such places.

Today is Memorial Day here in the USA. Most offices are closed, but places of recreation are open. For me, it’s a time to hide from the people who visit the Orlando attractions. It’s just as well, since Tropical Storm (or possibly hurricane) Beryl is closing in for a wet week. Good thing I mowed the lawn yesterday morning before the rain started. That’s not a complaint, though. Sometimes I actually like a good week of rain.

For those of you on holiday, enjoy it.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING MEMORIAL

How can you be sure that you've taken the right shot of a subject, especially when you have limited time to get it?

http://williambeem.com/dr-martin-luther-king-memorial/Photo: Citizens United to Block Photos

Protests.  That’s one of the things that always seems to catch me off-guard when I visit Washington for a photo trip.  I’ve found protests at the Capitol, on the Mall, the Lincoln Memorial and the White House. As an American citizen, I absolutely love our right to peaceful protest.  As a photographer, I wish these people would get out of the way so I could make my shot. That’s not to say that photos of protests aren’t valuable as subjects, but it wasn’t what I had in mind when I visited the Supreme Court during the Magic Hour.  Apparently, people like to protest in quality lighting conditions.  Perhaps that’s so they’ll look good on the evening news.

That left me with the choice between shooting with the protesters in good light or shooting without them in harsh light.  I actually tried to do it in good light, but a few of them thought I was with the news media and approached me to get in the news.  Didn’t work.  All they did was block my photo and tell me things that didn’t interest me at the moment (Occupy Whatever, Overturn Citizens United, etc.).

At least I could sympathize more with those folks than the guy on the Mall who was yelling about overthrowing the government. When I asked him what he’d do after that, he didn’t seem to have a plan.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Lake Eola SunsetPhoto: Summer at Sanibel Island Resorts

This is one of those Florida scenes that probably means more to me than anyone else. It reminds me of being a barefoot boy going to the beach, scrambling down a dirt road, or just listening to the breeze rustling the palms.  I’m sure everyone has something like comforting from their own youth.  Something you see and it just takes you back to a nice, simple time when you could run around without worry – until your mother called to come inside.

My family spent a lot of our summer vacation time in different Sanibel Island Resorts. My parents got into the time share craze because of me.  I learned that I could get a free 35mm camera by visiting one of those places in Daytona Beach.  My parents went along with me, though I’m sure they didn’t want to do it.  That’s just one of those supportive things that parents do (not to mention a free 35mm camera was better than me bugging them to buy me one).

It turns out that the free camera was a piece of plastic crap, but my father surprised me buy actually buying a week at the timeshare place.  We still have it, too. It’s being used next week. Things really hit their stride when my parents bought a timeshare at one of the Sanibel Island Resorts – Tortuga Beach Resort. They liked it so much that they bought another week on the back end to just relax.  Neither of my parents liked to fly and almost all of our vacations were in the state.  Oddly enough, they seemed to get over that once I left the house.  Hmm.

No matter, these are the summer scenes burned into my mind.  I think I’ll go crash a couple of days at the Sanibel place this summer and spend some time at the Mucky Duck.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Vietnam Women's Memorial

I’ve mentioned before that I’m an enormous fan of the memorials and monuments in Washington, D.C. The Vietnam Women’s Memorial is perhaps the most touching display I’ve visited. It’s a reminder of tremendous compassion in the midst of horrible conflict.

The women depicted in the memorial have names.  Hope looks up to the sky.  On the other side, Faith prays. Charity tends to the wounded soldier.

If you like this photo, there are more like it on my blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Another Night on the Las Vegas Strip 

Once again, I’ve booked another trip to Las Vegas.  This time it’s in September for Photoshop World.  I always enjoy the conference.  It’s a good show and I get to see plenty of friends who live in far away places.  Then we sit in the bar and play “Guess who’s the prostitute.”

It’s always interesting to see how I can photograph Las Vegas, or some part of the city, that I haven’t already seen before.  I’ve tried working with the different resorts and had varying degrees of success.  Hard Rock Hotel was the most helpful and willing to let me get some photos of their property.  They were great.  On the other hand, most resorts on The Strip were rather cautious when I made requests.  They seemed uneasy with the idea that someone would take photos of their beautiful resorts and post them someplace.  Just think of what could happen.  Someone could see those pictures and actually want to go there!  The horror.

Take this shot, for instance.  I have no doubt that someone will see this photo and think “Hey, that’s a nice view.  We should go to MIX Lounge, have a drink and enjoy the view.”  That’s what I did.  So even with that possibility in mind, I know I’m still going to get turned away from my next project in Las Vegas.  Still, I’ll have to try.  We’ll see how it goes.

If you like this photo, there are more like it on my blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Happy Independence Day

Instead of flags and fireworks, I decided to share this photo of George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon. Little did I know that the sun’s reflection from my lens would cause it to burn a hole on the left side of the house.  Sorry, George.

If you like this photo, there are more like it on my blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Florida Sunrise

If you like this photo, there are more like it on my blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Soaring

It sort of reminds me of the poem, "I know why the caged bird sings."  If you like this photo, there are more like it on my blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: The Pledge

Found under the US Capitol BuildingPhoto: The Virgin River

If you like this photo, there are more like it on my blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Tragedy or Comedy

Above the columns, you can see Tragedy on one side and Comedy on the other.  In between at the base of the stairs is a "No Photo" sign.  Welcome to the Library of Congress.

If you like this photo, there are more like it on my blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Tiki Table for Two

Frankie's Tiki Room in Las VegasPhoto: Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: I don't really know what the hell this is supposed to be.  It looks like something that should be in front of an Eddie Bauer Outlet Store, rather than in the urban environment of City Center in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip.  Yet, there it is.Photo: Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: This was the airplane that brought me home today.  I sat in seat 23D.  In seat 24D was a man holding a screaming baby.  The only thing that made sounds more disruptive than the baby was the man trying to calm her down by making snorting sounds.

The airlines are looking for new revenue streams, but I think they have it all wrong.  I didn't pay for extra legroom, but I would gladly pay to be away from families that making annoying sounds.Photo: Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: In 1947 Las Vegas chamber of Commerce hired a West-Marquis firm which invented the Fremont Street Cowboy Vegas Vic and his friendly "Howdy Podner" greeting.The Young Electric Sign Company was commissioned to build the neon version of the sign by the owners of the Pioneer Club. They then commissioned Pat Denner who modeled it after the image used by the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce in 1947 consisting of a cowboy in blue jeans with a yellow-checked shirt and red bandanna. Vegas Vic was then erected on the exterior of the building in 1951 changing the exterior of The Pioneer club forever.Photo: Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Going to Las Vegas soon for Photoshop World. Seems like a good time to upload this shot.Photo: Frankie's Tiki RoomPhoto: The Road from NelsonPhoto: Pink Taco at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las VegasPhoto: T-Dock SunrisePhoto: Nelson Wars: Revenge of the ClonesPhoto: NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building interiorPhoto: SerenePhoto: I love rooms with character. Frankie’s Tiki Bar in Las Vegas is like a cross between Cheers & Gilligan’s Island. The bartender knew every single person who came there, except me, of course. He wasn’t sure about letting me in, but I was able to show him that I had permission from the owner. Once he was comfortable, everyone treated me like I’d been part of the group for ages.

The bar was empty, but there are little nooks & crannies off to the side. A couple relaxed in one booth, a pair of friends chatted in a corner. It may be morning in Las Vegas, but there’s always someone who’s just getting off their shift and needs some rum. It’s a cool place to hang out, relax, and meet up with some friends. If you don’t have any when you go in, you will when you come out.

Visit me at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Since I seem to be in a Las Vegas state of mind this week, I thought I’d continue the streak with something that I dearly miss. This replica of the La Fontaine des Mers used to adorn the sidewalk in front of Paris Las Vegas, but it’s there no more. Instead, it was replaced with a mundane building that sells sparkly t-shirts and awful cupcakes. They look good, but don’t buy them – very dry. Cupcakes should be moist.

Do you have any subjects that you re-visit over and over again? This was one of mine and I looked forward to trying new shots of it whenever I visited Las Vegas. It wasn’t always easy, as this fountain was popular with tourists to pose for photos in front of it. It had a different character in the daylight than at night. Sometimes the water was flowing; sometimes not. It was just a little landmark that I always visited when I got to town. Things change.

Anyone know where to get a good cupcake in Las Vegas?

Visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: This is about as close to the Brooklyn Bridge as I’ve ever gotten. It’s an iconic piece of the landscape in New York and I’m curious to see what’s on the other side. However, my friends in the city always tell me “Oh, you don’t want to go over there.” I’ll ask them why and they’ll tell me of all the other things I can see in New York.

It’s like Brooklyn is the Forbidden City. Makes me wondering what they’re hiding over there that I’m not supposed to see.

Stop by the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: The Metro


As a photographer, sometimes I think my existence is a bit demimonde. Pull out a large camera in a public place and you’ll feel the eyes upon you. Once you’ve been hassled enough, you start to think about taking a photo along the lines of planning a heist. It’s not that you’re doing anything criminal or wrong, but you just want to get something and get away without being caught by some ignorant person who thinks that a photographer is a “suspicious” person.

Suspicious of what? If you think about it, there’s no one you should trust more than a photographer. After all, we’re not being the slightest bit covert when we setup a tripod with a big honking lens and try to make art out of the mundane. The suspicious people are the ones walking around who won’t make eye contact, if you ask me. Maybe that’s why I always try to look folks in the eye.

Despite the fact that photography is not a crime and the Washington Metro policy permits photography (but not the use of tripods), I should have had no qualms at all about taking this shot. I shouldn’t have felt the need to look for a station without a police presence or Metro staff near the spot that I wanted. Yet, I felt all of those things. That’s because the last time I tried to get a shot like this, a Metro worker screamed at me and threatened several times to call the police because I couldn’t take photos there. She was wrong, of course, because even then the Metro policy permitted photos.

This time, I staked out my heist. I just wanted a photo of that arch. It took time riding the Metro, looking for the right spot with a platform I could use, without police or Metro personnel around. I needed to have the right lens on my camera, whip it out of my bag, and fire my shots quickly, then make a clean getaway. It turns out that being a demimonde is much like being a Boy Scout. You have to be prepared.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: The time of year doesn’t matter, Florida can have some funky weather. Blue skies can rule the day and then a storm rolls in late afternoon. Sort of keeps you on your toes. Of course, those are the few times when you can get a beach to yourself, so I can’t complain.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Every time I visit Las Vegas, I have to look for new vantage points. After all, there are only so many times you can take the same shot and expect different results. Fortunately, I found this view in a bar at the Mandarin Oriental with glass walls. The reflections on the glass can be a bear and you can’t exactly setup a tripod there. Still, it’s a nice view and worth taking a handheld shot to see what happens.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: I’ve only been to Washington D.C. twice, and each time was for work. It didn’t give me much time to wander around and look for interesting subjects, so I latched onto the common scenes. D.C. makes it pretty easy to get around. Rode the train into the city, walked around the Mall, took my shots, went back to the train station, got yelled at by a security guard because I had a camera.

You see, I wanted to get a shot of the station because I really liked the arch and thought I could do something with it. She very angrily got in my face and told me I couldn’t take pictures. I knew I could, so I asked her, “Why not?”

“Because of 9/11, that’s why!”

I reminded her that those terrorists used planes, not cameras. She seemed disinterested in my rebuttal, or the fact that MTA specifically wrote on its web page (section 1050.9) that photography in the station was permitted, though tripods were not for safety reasons (tripods are the new terrorists!)

In any case, she started calling police, my train arrived, and I decided that I didn’t want to explain to my employer why I was arrested for participating in a perfectly legal hobby of photography because of some angry security guard. So, that’s why I’m sharing another photo of the Capitol instead of a subway station.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: #Christmas in Las Vegas #Travel


Most years, I spend my Christmas holiday in Las Vegas. I’m going to miss it this year because it’s actually become a very comforting place for me. I get to see some friends who live there, get some comfort food at Mr. Lucky’s in the Hard Rock Hotel, and enjoy some cool weather without getting into snow. It’s also typically one of the less crowded periods there, so I don’t have to fight through hordes of bodies to get from one place to another and rates are very low. It’s definitely my favorite time to visit Las Vegas.

Everything seems oversized and grand along the Las Vegas Strip, including these golden presents in the Bellagio. It’s such an ostentatious display that you have to wonder what it would be like to rip it open on Christmas morning, even though I don’t really do presents. Instead, I have a bit of a routine of favorite places that I like to visit on Christmas, some favorite restaurants for my meals that day, and a wish to hit a jackpot just once. Still waiting on that last one.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: It is Not New
#HDR #Photo #Travel 


I like this quote alongside the statue of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (and his little dog, too). With all of the news due to the election year campaigns, SOPA protests and general dislike for our elected officials, it seems like we have the history at our disposal to prevent making the same mistakes time and again. Yet, there’s one thing that I’ve learned from my own fascination with history. People don’t change. Individuals may change, but the human race always develops those who would think it their right & responsibility to tell us how to live. It isn’t a matter of party – politicians on the Left and the Right both preach their view of the world; often invoking the name of “the people” to make their case.

Maybe we just need to start inviting politicians on photo walks around Washington D.C. so they can see these little bits of wisdom and realize that they’re repeating historical failures.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Vague Memories of Life
#lasvegas #HDR #Photo 

This is the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas. I may need to go back there for a check-up, because I was driving myself crazy trying to figure out where I uploaded this to Google+. Of course, that was because I'd never uploaded it here.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada
#travel #lasvegas #Photo 

Slot machines used to play in the key of C, since it was thought to be a pleasing sound to the human mind. Busy carpet patterns were intended to keep your eyes up so you could see the games. I’ve been thinking about the subtle ways that people are manipulated by others lately, and it’s fascinating. I’m just not sure if I’m paying more attention to prevent being manipulated or to learn how to do it better to others.

Decisions, decisions.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: How to Survive Winter
#Travel #Photo #HDR 


Who can resist a path to a nice sunset under the palm trees? You can just imagine the ocean breeze and convenient cocktail service. There’s only one way to survive the Winter months, and that’s to avoid it. You can’t stop the snow, but you can leave town. Go someplace warm and learn a new definition of “chill.” Relax. Watch the coconuts grow. Watch the sunset. Forget about putting chains on your tires.

Forget skiing. Hurtling down a mountain on a pair of sticks is an unnatural act that’s fraught with danger. Did you ever notice there are no songs about skiing, but there are plenty of songs about the beach? Go ahead, sit there with a drink in your hand and your toes in the sand. It’s only natural.

There’s a reason I was born here.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: San Francisco Days
#Photo #Travel 


I admit, I’m kind of jealous of spending a lazy day on the grass reading a book. It’s been a while since I’ve had a lazy day outside and I think I’m due for one. However, I don’t think I’ll do it in front of the Orlando City Hall. They just put a man in jail for writing a protest in chalk on the sidewalk. Jail? Seriously, couldn’t they just cite him for some misdemeanor and let him contest it in court if he doesn’t want to pay a fine? Should we really be putting people in jail for chalk offenses? I digress.

Anyone know a safe place to spend a lazy day? I promise, I have no chalk.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: The Virgin River
#Photo #Travel #HDR 


I visited Las Vegas last week to gather some information for a new book. Before I left, I made a list of the shots I wanted to get, locations I needed to visit, and prepared everything in advance. That’s just the way I am. No spontaneity.

That went out the window when I made a decision on the flight out of Orlando to visit Zion National Park. It’s been on my list to go back for a while, and it suddenly occurred to me that I could make it happen on this trip. I called my friend Andy, who lives in nearby Henderson, and we took a three hour drive up to Zion and wandered around the scenic route for a few hours.

The rushing water of the Virgin River surrounded us. Even on the drive there, we’d encounter this river a few times and it beckoned me. Florida rivers don’t rush. Things are slow in the South. The Virgin River isn’t that large or deep. In fact, I could cross it in two jumps in some places. What it lacks in size, it makes up by being a fast & slippery little sucker. I know it’s slippery because I damn near slipped and fell into it a few times working my way across on those rocks.

I crossed the river to get to this vantage point, took my shots for a while, and then decided I found a better way out from my precarious position on the rocks. Unfortunately, I underestimated the ground on the bank. Most of it was fine, but there was a section that had some seepage from somewhere that I hadn’t noticed. Basically, it was red muck. Slippery red muck. My foot want in, sank a bit, and then I started sliding very quickly down into the river.

Being from Florida, I’m no stranger to muck and I reacted quickly. I put my other foot down where the first one landed and repeated the same result. I said I reacted quickly, not wisely. After running in place like Scooby Doo for a while, I finally figured out some different footing and got the hell out of there. My better path slung red mud all over my shoes & pants and had me climbing up a steep wall for about fifteen feet – all while carrying a tripod & expensive Nikon camera. I returned to the rental car out of breath and somewhat filthy, but I got my river shot.

Please enjoy the photo. I suffered for my art.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Looking Down Hoover Dam 


My mother would be very unhappy if she saw me leaning over the edge of the Hoover Dam to get this photograph. On the other hand, she doesn’t like to fly, so I was pretty sure she wouldn’t be around to chastise me. Some little boy ran and hopped up on the ledge near me and his mother was quick (and quite right) to scold him for it. His father, on the other hand, told her to lighten up a bit. That must be the joy of parenting. It’s a good thing my mother didn’t see me when I was on that bypass bridge looking back at the dam, either, but that’s another story.

I can tell you that February is a wonderful time to visit Hoover Dam. The weather is comfortable and the crowd level is relatively. Compare that to summer time when it’s blistering hot and many times more crowded. It must be like a trip to hell in those months. Folks who work there tell me the handrails are so hot during the summer that you would rather fall down some steps than grab them.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: The Surfer

That lonely surfer out there must’ve been praying for some waves, but they just never came. I know a bit how he feels, except that I was praying for some clouds during this sunset at Blind Pass, between Sanibel & Captiva islands. You can’t always get what you want. However, he’s proof that you get what you need. Without that silhouette, there wouldn’t be a reason to show this photo.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Getting High in Las Vegas
#Travel #HDR #LASVEGAS 



I think most photographers enjoy getting an elevated view of a city skyline. Las Vegas has a few different places to do that, but the Stratosphere is the tallest. In my opinion, though, it's not the best view of The Strip. You have a few challenges shooting up there.

The wind at that altitude can be exceptionally strong. You'd think a tripod would help, but they do not allow a tripod or even a monopod up there. You have to pass through security and they aren't joking about it. A guy in front of my had a 6" long table tripod and they took that away from him. I have my own opinions about people confiscating my property (that I won't let them do it), but the other side of that is you don't go up. I'm OK with that. Private property, they can make their own rules.

That's why I brought my Manfrotto Magic Arm with me. I called ahead and the guy on the other end of the phone said it was fine. Of course, the woman working security scans had no idea what it was and she wanted to deprive me of it. I asked for a supervisor. After some time dealing with a voice on the other end of the phone and explaining that it doesn't touch the ground, doesn't cause a safety issue and so forth, they finally approved it. The upper deck has a railing all the way around, so I had plenty of places to attach the clamp.

Of course, that wind was blowing it all over the place. It held my camera up, but it was shaking hard in that wind. I ended up taking some shots with it, and some handheld at higher ISO. It was a reminder to not feel too clever. I could keep it somewhat still by pressing my face close and holding the sides with my hands, but I really missed my tripod up there.

When I explained to the security guard that it didn't post a safety hazard, she said that wasn't the problem. "They just don't want anyone taking professional photos up there and selling them."

OK with me. I'm not going to sell it. I'm giving it away. As I've mentioned before, my photos are freely available under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial license. If you want to use this photo for personal use, all you have to do is give me credit and provide a link back tohttp://williambeem.com. You can find a larger version on my Flickr page.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wbeem/6906421411/in/photostreamPhoto: Enola Gay

I had another trip to the Udvar-Hazy National Air & Space Museum this week. Finally found a way to get around their tripod ban to get some stable bracketed exposures for some HDR processing. Check out the blog to see how I did it.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Oak Avenue


Wormsloe Plantation’s Oak Avenue – it’s a popular place for photographers and you can find many images similar to this one. Even so, each one is a bit different. Some like to shoot through the main gate. Others like to head down the road a bit to include a white fence on the horizon. The seasons affect the color & mood. It’s all the same place with a few different twists.

I couldn’t help but think what it must be like to ride down this road on a horse & buggy, just slowly loping along while surrounded by the oaks. It’s a very peaceful and serene place when there are no cars whizzing down the road. It reminds me of the neighborhood where I grew up on Oak Island Road. Just a dirt path, a few houses on the side, all surrounded by plenty of oak trees. I almost expect to see some of my childhood friends run barefoot down the road to take me fishing.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Old Supreme Court Chamber


This is the Old Supreme Court Chamber inside the U.S. Capitol Building. It took a very long time before the court could successfully argue to get its own building. Until that time, they met in this chamber. Some of the most historically important cases before the U.S. Supreme Court took place here. John Quincy Adams argued the Amistad case here, as was the Dred Scott case.

I really debated whether to show this photo or not. It has a bit of noise because I had to resort to a rather high ISO, but my love for the room itself won out. The room has great ambience and I asked if I could use my tripod here, but the Capitol Police are no longer providing tripod permits to visitors. You either need to be credentialed media or working for the Capitol in some capacity. So, I cranked up my ISO, opened my aperture, and slowly exhaled as I snapped off my shots.

If you want to know more about the history of this room, check out the page from the Architect of the Capitol.

http://www.aoc.gov/cc/capitol/oscc.cfm

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: The Watchman


This sunset photo of the Virgin river leading up to The Watchman was one of the last things I shot on my trip to Zion National Park a few weeks ago. It’s just a peaceful way to end your day. You have the quiet of a canyon, only interrupted by the babbling river below and a few shutter clicks. Another photographer or two came up to shoot the same scene, but we didn’t really talk that much. Each of us just enjoyed watching the light fall and made our clicks as things continued to get better.

Would that every day could end like this one.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Mars Attacks Fremont Street (Nightly)


I know the Fremont Street Experience is only entertainment, but I think this is exactly how people would react if we were truly attack by Martians. They’d stand around, look up, and try to be the first one to grab a smartphone pic to post on Facebook or Instagram. Then they’d walk around looking for the gift shop. That’s out society at work. Document where you were and get a fridge magnet to prove it.

OK, I admit that I have hundreds of fridge magnets, but I don’t use Instagram.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Sanibel Beach

Just before dawn and the place is already crowded.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.comPhoto: Caloosahatchee Manuscripts

A pair of bronze cylinders engraved with thousands of letters light up in Downtown Fort Myers.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.com.Photo: Tidepool Dawn

The nice thing about sunrise is that the only other folks up and about are runners.  Even if they get in your frame, they get out of it soon after.  You gotta love people like that.

If you like this photo, there are more like it on my blog at http://williambeem.com.Photo: Korean War Veterans Memorial

If you like this photo, there are more like it on my blog at http://williambeem.com.Photo: Overlooking Washington, D.C.

The view from the dome of the Library of Congress.

If you like this photo, there are more like it on my blog at http://williambeem.com.Photo: Waiting for Isaac

Lots of rain today. A little wind. Some tornado warnings.  It's a good day to do quarterly taxes.

If you like this photo, there are more like it on my blog at http://williambeem.com.Photo: Capitol Reconstruction

The door was unlocked, so we went inside.  On the way out, some stern-faced man followed us and was sure to lock the door.  Oh, well. I guess this was supposed to be a surprise.

Please visit the blog at http://williambeem.com.Photo: Inspiration or Ripoff?

If you see something in another person's photo and use it in your own work, is it inspiration or a ripoff?  I gave it some thought in this blog post.  Check it out.

http://williambeem.com/inspiration-or-ripoff/Photo: DCFC Engine Company No. 28

I came across this fire station walking back from the National Zoo to the Metro station.

If you like this photo, there are more like it on my blog at http://williambeem.com.Photo: The Great Hall of the Library of Congress

It's such a stunning building, sometimes it's hard to know which way to look. So, I looked up.

If you like this photo, there are more like it on my blog at http://williambeem.com.Photo: Greene Square in Savannah, GA

I stumbled across plenty of squares while walking through Savannah one evening. This one goes back to 1799 to honor Major General Nathanael Greene - a man who is of absolutely no relation to me.

If you like this photo, there are more like it on my blog at http://williambeem.com.Photo: Portofino Fog

I can never get to this scene with as much fog as I want.  It's my Great White Buffalo.Photo: Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery

If you like this photo, there are more like it on my blog at http://williambeem.com.Photo: A Day on the Bay

Shot at Portofino Bay hotel in Orlando.

If you like this photo, there are more like it on my blog at http://williambeem.com.Photo: Welcome to Hard Rock

This is my favorite place to stay in Las Vegas. It just feels comfortable walking into the place, which is why I've stayed at Hard Rock Hotel more than any other Las Vegas resort. Besides, you see things here you don't see in other places.

If you like this photo, there are more like it on my blog at http://williambeem.com.Photo: The Green Flash

I can't recommend the restaurant on Sanibel/Captiva named "The Green Flash", but sometimes it's nice to watch the sun set and see a soul return from the other side.

If you like this photo, there are more like it on my blog at http://williambeem.com..Photo: Tiki Time in Las Vegas

At Frankie's Tiki Room Lounge.

If you like this photo, there are more like it on my blog at http://williambeem.com.Photo: Photo: Photo: Aria at Night

I shot this a couple of years ago and just now got around to processing it. City Center was new and I wanted to check out Aria. Nice place, but felt a little sterile and deserted back then.Photo: Your Tax Dollars at WorkPhoto: Random MusingsPhoto: Pink Taco

I'm craving the carnitas platter and a flight of tequila.Photo: Pink Taco

I'm craving the carnitas platter and a flight of tequila.Photo: Capitol Hill

I ate here once.Photo: Reflecting LincolnPhoto: DC Nights

This is what Lincoln sees every night.Photo: U.S. Treasury DepartmentPhoto: Seal Rocks

I'm told this place was called Seal Rocks, though I didn't see any seals. In fact, I didn't see much of anything because it was pretty damn dark, cold and windy out there with spray in my face.

This isn't a new photo, as I shot it back in 2008. However, it's a new vision of an old photo using some different post processing techniques and tools. I thought it was worth another look.Photo: I am here.

This is the view I see when I wake up in the morning.  It's also the view I see when I take a shower, since it doesn't have a wall either.

Welcome to St. Lucia.  Let it all hang out.Photo: The Saint Lucia Sunset

The middle of the day in Saint Lucia - at least during my August visit - can get a bit stifling. Sunset marked the time when things became really pleasant, though. The humidity dropped, the breeze kicked up and the light becomes spectacular.

You could spot the Milky Way at night with a naked eye, and waking up in the morning was cool and pleasant (until that damn bird flew into my bathroom to yell at itself in the mirror).

Sunset was the sign of something good every day. Lots of learning under the belt and something to ponder over the evening. Even better, no power lines in the way.Photo: NYNY at Night

Another angle on one of the classic resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. Just be warned if you ever decide to stay here. There's a roller coaster circling the building that runs even in the evening. It's hard to relax with the occasional blood curdling scream right outside your hotel window.Photo: Jade Mountain Restaurant

This is as close as I ever got to the restaurant. During a few nights of the week in St. Lucia, I'd climb the stairs up here and take some shots, but it was always after sunset.

I really wanted to get a shot inside during one sunset, but it never really seemed to work out with the timing due to all the other activity going on with the workshop.

Maybe on another trip.Photo: Red Square

Power to the Proletariat, and tip your waitress!Photo: Photo: Under the Sea

Even under the sea, there's still a light at the end of the tunnel.Photo: Playing with HDR Panorama

It may not look like it, but this is a panorama.  I did four sets of seven-exposure brackets with my Nikon D800.  The resulting file is seriously obese with megapixels.

Found some things I liked about it and discovered mistakes along the way. We all have to start somewhere.Photo: Havana Malecon Sunrise

My vacations seem to always have cloudless skies.Photo: Waiting For The Viñales SunsetPhoto: Catedral de La Habana

Your skirt must be this long to enter (per the sign at the door).Photo: Another Day in Cuba