The official photo blog of J. David Buerk Photography.

A Day at the Museums

Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Every year I try to visit the Smithsonian Folklife Festival; this year was no different.  As we always do, Adrianna and I arrived hungry and enjoyed several of the different cultural food vendors.  With this year's festival, however, that was about all we did, as we found the entire festival quite small underwhelming, particularly in comparison to previous years; it seems as though the festival has been shrinking over the last few years, much to our disappointment, as we both look forward to attending each year.  The nearby waste bins reminded me of some fine art photography series I've seen done on trash.

We perused the entire grounds of the festival, and barely anything was going on - we saw two discussion panels, which the speakers seemed to be attempting humor that was falling flat on the gathered audiences, and there were no demonstrations taking place even at the scheduled times posted.  Disappointed, we decided to hit a few of the less trafficked museums.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

At the Hirshorn we saw parts of Yoko Ono's exhibits which were nearing their close, and Ai Weiwei's "Trace" exhibit of large LEGO portraits of political dissidents.  This of course was alongside some of Hirshorn's collection of rotating artifacts on display.

One piece that initially confused us was Reynier Leyva Novo's "5 Nights," which appear as different sized rectangles of black ink on the walls, each equal to the amount of ink used in writing five totalitarian leaders' manifestos; at the museum, we did not see a plaque explaining this, but we did notice the plaque underneath the largest rectangle labeled "Adolf Hitler: Mein Kampf" and we incorrectly surmised that these were placeholders for an upcoming exhibit, one of which would be a painting by Adolf Hitler sharing the title of his infamous autobiography.  It wasn't until later that evening on the Hirshorn website that all was made clear; the conclusion we'd drawn earlier just didn't feel as though it added up, and had been bugging me for clarification and correction all day.

The detail and depth in Weiwei's repeating patterns is breathtaking, and a designer's delight.  Overtones of surveillance, oppression, suppression.  The rise of Twitter, resistance, transparency through opposition.  It's bleak and hopeful and applicable to the political state in many governments the whole-World over.  It is a modern illustration of a timeless struggle.

Weiwei's LEGO art was expansive and reminiscent of 8-bit art, eliciting thoughts of the digital age in which many of his subjects relied upon in their tasks.

National Museum of the American Indian

Next we decided to visit the nearby National Museum of the American Indian.  Adrianna is part Native American, so she's visited many times and is well versed in the exhibits and history.  I, on the other hand, had never been before, and my entire knowledge of Native American history is limited one learns in 4th grade; that is, to say, I admittedly have no significant knowledge of Native American history.  Our visit was rushed because they would be closing in less than two hours, and frankly this is a museum to fully absorb a whole day would be required; I will need to return to devote an entire day to give it the attention this museum requires and deserves.

2017 Folklife Festival 8.jpg

At closing time we split a pastry in the cafeteria head off back to Virginia for dinner.

A Sebring Farewell

If you regularly read my blog, follow my photography, or know anything about me at all, you already know I'm somewhat of a "car guy."  Many of you already know that I recently replaced my first car - as all car people know, this is an emotional experience.  I've been into photography *almost* as long as I was rolling around in my first car; a 2001 Chrysler Sebring Coupe LXi (3.0L V6), affectionately known among car communities as the "Eclipse Clone" thanks to its complete underpinnings of a 3rd generation Mitsubishi Eclipse... which explains its notoriously abysmal reliability.  But more on that later.

Today's blog post is a kind of tribute to the life of my first car, as well as showing a glimpse into how my photography has grown and changed over the years.  It is more of a personal post than a professional one, so bear with me.  I have been busy with shoots lately as well, which are coming to the blog soon; for now, just enjoy this trip down memory lane with me - to a car guy, replacing your first car is a major life event, which I'd like to share with you.

Here I am in May of 2005, after driving the Sebring (my first car) home from the dealership.

As a Junior in high school, I'd ride the bus home, drop my bag off, get something to eat, and drive back to the school an hour later for Track practice.  My first trip in the car was with a friend to Sheetz for an orange Slurpee.  It was glorious.

At the time I was working my first job; a Student Ambassador (also known as a "Yellow Shirt") at Washington Dulles International Airport.  This job introduced me to individuals I still work closely with to this day.  Here I am getting in, as shot by one of my old co-workers.

 Hopping in.

A few pictures of me driving, from 2006 and 2011.

 Of course, as the driver, most of my time was spent behind the wheel.  In 2009 I was taking film photography courses in college, and one of my favorite film photos was taken while driving through a tunnel in DC.  This photo has been included in my website ever since I finally got one in 2011.  Contrary to appearance and logic, the bright light on the dash is NOT the Check Engine Light; it is instead the foglight indicator (when it worked - this light eventually burnt out, and was never able to be fixed - so fitting for this car's reliability record).


Likewise, one of my most asked about car photos was made around the same time - this was before GoPro was a thing, but I used a small camera with suction mount similar to the now endless GoPro videos online.  Until GoPro cameras came into existence, I frequently was questioned how the photo was taken - most assumed (very incorrectly) that I leaned out the window while driving.  Wow - uh, don't do that.

It didn't matter where I am; as long as it is interesting, I snap photos of car.  Although it was NOT a Subaru, I did get it filthy...

 Weekend West Virginia trip (Canaan Valley, West Virginia) the point where the paint color was indeterminate...

 Weekend West Virginia trip (Canaan Valley, West Virginia)

...including the chrome rims...

 Weekend West Virginia trip (Canaan Valley, West Virginia)

...on multiple occasions.

It was mostly kept clean though.

 Finally!  Some decent photos of my car!

Bare Speedlite 600EX-RT with CTO camera left triggered via PocketWizard Flex.
Bare Speedlite 600EX-RT with CTO camera right aimed at front bumper triggered via PocketWizard Flex.
 It's green!  And it's the only decent photo of my car!

Bare Speedlite 600EX-RT with CTO camera left triggered via PocketWizard Flex.
Bare Speedlite 600EX-RT with CTO camera right aimed at front bumper triggered via PocketWizard Flex.

Amazingly, that was the only true photoshoot the Sebring ever got.  It wasn't until a few years ago I really began shooting local car culture... and somehow I never photographed my own car.  Not in the way I go about photographing cars now; trying to capture details about their personalities.

So in my Sebring's final hours, I gave it the shoot it never had.  I captured every little detail about the car.  Little details I may forget later in life.  The infinite cracks in its horribly designed rigid-plastic dash.  How the trunk release lever worked.  The driver's seat view.  Everything I loved and hated about the ride.

All A Dream: Spring of 2015
All A Dream: Spring of 2015
All A Dream: Spring of 2015

At the end, it barely ran.  The engine was shot.  The suspension failing.  The car had been a money-pit for years (Mitsubishi).  Something new has been LONG overdue.

So here's the video: The Sebring's last moments with me.  The engine was so forgone no dealership would take it for trade-in despite how pretty it looked for a 14 year old car, so it was donated to a good charity who will decide how best to proceed.  You'll understand why as soon as you hit Play.

And that ending... those last seconds as it departs the driveway... there is no better fitting finale to a car that had so many mechanical and electrical nightmares.

A Sebring Farewell

See the tribute and heritage: Sebring's final moments. The engine was shot (among other things, as you can hear), and this is video of the last time I ever saw it. For car guys, letting your first car go is an emotional experience.

Posted by David Buerk on Wednesday, April 1, 2015

So here I am seconds before the car left - the last time I touched it...

All A Dream: Spring of 2015

...and the scrape heard 'round the World.  You can't hear it in the video, but the tow driver also nailed the Sebring on a speed hump down the street.  It was 10x more cringeworthy, if you can imagine.

All A Dream: Spring of 2015

A photo of myself with both cars.

All A Dream: Spring of 2015

I actually DID manage to grab a few glamour shots of both cars together.  Jake graciously limped the Sebring to another location so I could get different angles.

All A Dream: Spring of 2015
All A Dream: Spring of 2015
All A Dream: Spring of 2015

Ironically, the battery died in the 10 minutes we took these pictures... between not being driven for several weeks since the G37 was purchased, and how it had been plagued with electrical problems for several years, the serendipity was less than surprising (for the last 6 months, the alarm would randomly go off if left out in the rain - it would need to be left to dry with the battery disconnected for several days before drivable again).

... and I didn't have jumper cables in the G37 yet.  So we had to ditch it and come back with cables.

All A Dream: Spring of 2015

Driving Forward

By now you clearly see that I've replaced the 2001 Chrysler Sebring with a 2010 Infiniti G37 S 6MT.

It hasn't been given it's own proper photoshoot yet; I've been waiting for nicer weather, prettier backdrops, and the opportunity to go on a mini-roadtrip.  It will get it's own photo post later on.

To end, I'll leave you with the few photos I have taken of the new ride.

Taking delivery at the dealer.

All A Dream: Spring of 2015

Baby's first fill-up, car wash, and making friends at DCA.  And I had similar car requirements to Kelly: Stick shift, and butt warmers.

I've actually already gotten it covered in mud, at a photoshoot no-less.  Melting snow + dirt roads + horse farm = muddy Infiniti.  Shockingly, I only took photos of the couple; not the messy car.

To finish, I'll leave you with a photo from present day - getting wings with a few great friends dating back to high school track: something of a reborn tradition (we used to get wings here after track practices).  Today, although we all find ourselves with different schedules, we always have time for lunchtime wings every couple weeks or so.

Joe is another car guy, with his tuned RDX Turbo, and Omar has a bug for sports coupes like myself - just a few days ago he picked up this Genesis 3.8 (the other model car I was considering against the G37), replacing his Tiburon (a car I was eyeballing before getting the Sebring).

The friendship lives on.

All A Dream: Spring of 2015