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Screaming turtle @ Smithsonian, DC trip

:: Monday, January 30th, 2006 @ 10:13:53 pm

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turtle @ smithsonian

After winning the Animal Antics category in the Nature’s Best 2005 Photo Contest, I waited for months for details about the accompanying exhibit in the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History. I never really received firm details, but I knew the exhibit was up when friends started sending me photographs of the Screaming Turtle in the exhibit (thanks, Mike, Oliver, and Wendy!)

UPDATE Purchase a print of this image!

– scroll to the bottom if you’re looking for photos –

And so, I planned a trip to Washington DC to see it in person. Alisa Wong graciously offered to host me in her cozy apartment in Dupont Circle, and I got to spent some time with old friends Josh Klein and Zach Price. I also met Wetpixel-member Mike Oelrich and Andy DeHart, the National Aquarium’s General Manager. While going through security at the National Aquarium, I heard a surprised, “Eric!”, and after turning around (a bit surprised, myself), I saw John and his wife, who were both at the Bonaire Digital Shootout last year. Small world. I suppose if I were to bump into underwater photographers anywhere in DC, it would be at the aquarium.

The Nature’s Best exhibit at the Smithsonian was very well done, with former winners prominently lining one wall and this year’s winners scattered around the rest of the room. My turtle image is featured as a 5-foot print on a free-standing column at the front-entrance of the exhibit, and while I was standing there I heard just about everyone who walked in make some sort of comment about it. Alisa, Josh and I wandered around for a bit, snapping photos, and then I had to rush off to the National Aquarium to meet up with Andy and Mike.

The National Aquarium has just received a sizeable grant from NOAA, so there should be some nice renovations in the next couple of years (after which they may be moving!). It’s a modest aquarium, but interesting; it’s the nation’s oldest aquarium and lives inside the Department of Commerce building. Many of the exhibits show signs of its history, with wooden seals (now lined with silicone), pipe anchors in the concrete for metal railings, etc. Andy walked us through the exhibits and explained what would be happening to each one during the coming renovations.

In the evening, Alisa took me to a party hosted at her friend’s place, which was full of Treasury Department folk. DC is a strange place: so many people identify with some sort of organization (most of them government-related, it seems). During the course of the few hours we were there, I listened in to conversations about the State Department, Treasuries, Commerce, and other goverment-related stuff. Everyone I spoke with seemed to be well-traveled, and some even plan trips abroad around the proximity to an American Embassy. So… I perhaps was a bit out of place there, but I enjoyed the conversation and company.

On Sunday, Alisa and I walked around Georgetown, which was cute and had interesting, old buildings. Much of DC appears to be deserted after living here in New York City. And good food seems to be hard to find in DC. I was told that Ethiopian food is good locally, but I didn’t get a chance to see for myself.

Zach was working on Sunday, so I met up with him at the Supreme Court for a tour of the facilities before walking around back to have Chinese food. It was fun to wander around the building, and we literally didn’t see another person once we were past the guard. I thought it was funny that at the podium where you might make your argument to the justices, the only text that is visible in one’s field of view is a prominent, shiny, gold plaque in front of the two microphones that says, “Do not adjust microphones.” Given all the symbolism in the reliefs on the ceiling and just about everything else in the courthouse, you’d think there would be something more interesting to see while you argue the case of your life. ;)

Anyway, I had a great time visiting DC, and Alisa made me feel at home in her place. I have to say, though, that Washington DC is an ugly-ass city right now. Every beautiful building is surrounded by ripped-up roads, concrete barricades, orange pylons, and nasty fences. Way to make our nation’s capital look crappy, guys.

UPDATE August 12, 2006: I hear the turtle is still in somewhere in the Natural History Museum. If you read this and see the turtle on display, can you snap a photo of it and e-mail it to me? :)

| New York, NY | link | trackback | Jan 30, 2006 22:13:53

My screaming turtle photo at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum

My screaming turtle photo at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum

Josh Klein, with my screaming turtle photo at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum

Photographer and print: screaming turtle photo at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum

The text accompanying the turtle print

The Nature's Best Photography Awards exhibit at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum

The Nature's Best Photography Awards exhibit at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum

The Nature's Best Photography Awards exhibit at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum

The Nature's Best Photography Awards exhibit at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum

San Diego wins the club award. Tacky that it includes a puffed puffer.

"There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer." - Ansel Adams

Strange animal that I thought my sister would like

Strange animal that I thought my sister would like

Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian, Washington DC

Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian, Washington DC

Josh Klein hides behind the huge quartz ball

Alisa Wong, me, and Josh Klein at the Natural History Museum

Josh Klein, with death grip on stuffed panda

Mike Oelrich at the National Aquarium

Josh Klein

Eric Cheng, Mike Oelrich, and Andy DeHart at the National Aquarium

Andy DeHart, General Manager of the National Aquarium

Erica and Josh

The White House, view from behind bars

Beautiful scenery in front of the white house

Lovely fencing on the way to the Mall

Selling outdated products

Washington Monument

The new, strangely-placed monument between the Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument

Cops on horses

Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument, winter

Reflecting Pool, winter

Supreme Court

Zach Price seated in his office in Justice Kennedy's chambers

Inside the Supreme Court

Inside the Supreme Court

One of the meeting rooms in the Supreme Court

Baskteball court directly above the hearing room in the Supreme Court

Zach, at the top of marble staircase in the Supreme Court
  • George Vincent

    Funny, under Kodak Film Camera, caption “Selling outdated products”. Yet, one row down is a policeman on a horse. Just as a horse still has a place in a world of Police Crown Vic’s, perhaps a film camera still has a place in this world.

  • http://echeng.com echeng

    Perhaps, George. ;)

  • stevec

    You got a private tour of the supreme court, nice. :) Not many get to see the -real- “highest court in the land” (aka the baskeball court above the hearing room).

  • Heidi

    yea for mr. turtle! He looks good up there :) Hope you’re doing well in NY. Next SF visit?

  • wendy

    how come you didn’t get me a stuffed panda? i want one

  • http://echeng.com echeng

    Wen: like this one?

  • SeaSun’s Greatings

    Hmmm… What and why was that turtle screaming?

    Possibilities: A.) “I’m NOT giving one more ride to you ungrateful land sharks!”

    2.) “Get that paparazi camera out of my face! NO pictures! NO pictures!”

    III.) “EEEEEEK! There are humans in my bath!!!”

  • http://www.portraitkingdom.com Pet Portraits

    Must be pretty cool to watch people come into a high-level exhibit like that and praise your work…

  • Rene DValery

    Eric, I am a friend of Alisa’s (Wong) and I am trying to reconnect with her but I can’t place an email address or phone number to locate her. Would you be so kind to mention to her that Rene (that’s me) would love to connect with her? My email address is rdvalery@gmail.com Much appreciated! Rene

  • Anonymous

    Looks like Mr. Turtle will do just fine. I think he is living the high life.

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