Day 6 - Washington DC (cont)  
That sure is a lot of Johns! The Mall, Washington DC
Minolta X-570 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X (cropped). Film: Kodak Portra 400UC
I was excited about visiting the concert briefly before heading out to Fedex Field for the game, because the concert had been heavily promoted and I thought it might be fun to see that many people using the Mall. I had every reason to expect it to be huge, as after all, the day before I had passed the sight above when walking next to the area where the concert was to be held. The amazing thing about the above line of conveniences was that it was only one of four such lines placed around the Mall. One thing was obvious - the planners were expecting a LOT of people to turn up to the free concert.

I arrived at about 5.00pm to find extensive queues at all of the entrances despite the rain that had been falling in the previous hours. After getting in, the sight was impressive - there were a lot of people at the concert.

The front section had been reserved for servicemen and servicewomen and their families, and the sections behind that had filled up fast, until the police and Parks Service officers closed off the areas nearest to the stage.

Britney Spears was down the front somewhere. The Mall, Washington DC
Minolta X-570 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X (cropped). Film: Kodak Portra 400UC

Given the poor conditions, and the fact that all I could actually see was the crowd immediately around me, I considered that I would be better off wandering away from the main crowd and looking for some photographic opportunities. Thankfully, the Smithsonian Institution Building (commonly known as the Castle) that is adjacent to The Mall was not overcrowded.

The Smithsonian Castle was the first Smithsonian building, and today it houses the administrative offices for the Smithsonian and the Information Centre. Built in 1885 in the Norman style (a combination of Gothic and Romanesque styles), it was designed by archtect James Renwick Jnr, who also designed St Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. The Castle is virtually unique in Washington DC, as being made from red sandstone it stands apart from most of the other federal buildings which are made from white marble. It is surrounded by some beautiful gardens that demard a visit, and given the hectic pace of the mall concert were a haven for me.

In the gardens of the Smithsonian Castle, Washington DC
Minolta X-570 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X (cropped). Film: Kodak Portra 400UC
In the gardens of the Smithsonian Castle, Washington DC
Minolta X-570 with 35mm f/1.8 MD W.Rokkor-X. Film: Kodak Portra 400UC

I think that the shot above would probably been a little better if I had used a smaller aperture for greater depth of field, but I was focusing on highlighting the rose. The images do, however, give a clear indication of the weather on the day - it was very wet, and the Mall was quickly being churned up into mud.

Adjacent to the Smithsonian Castle, on the mall, is a carousel. The Smithsonian actually has a hand carved carousel made in 1903 by Gustav A Dentzel in its collection, but the one for use by the public is a more utilitarian model. Nevertheless it is an eternal favourite of children, and despite the concert was still operating.

Carousel on The Mall, Washington DC
Minolta X-570 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X. Film: Kodak Portra 400UC

Time was now starting to get short for my trip out to Fedex Field, so I headed back through the security checkpoints, and off to the subway station. I needed to get out to Landover to meet Phil and head to the game.

The arrangements for public transport access to Fedex Field appeared to be poorer than I would expect for a major stadium and event. The stadium is distant from the railway stations, and accordingly a bus service is run to ferry patrons to the stadium, but this service is expensive, and very cramped. However, once one is at the stadium the sight is very impressive.

Construction of the stadium began in March 1996 and it was completed 18 months later in September 1997, in time for the Washington Redskins' first home game of the season. Seating over 80,000 patrons, the stadium cost more than $300 million to build, and in the time since completion another $55 million has been spent on upgrades to the facilities. I suppose when you consider that cost, the high price of food at the game was reasonable!

Capacity crowd at FedEx Field.
Minolta X-570 with 24mm f/2.8 VFC MC W.Rokkor. Film: Kodak Portra 400UC

Not only was the game the NFL season opener, but it was also a real grudge match because four of the Redskins players had left the Jets in the off-season, thanks to big-spending Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. Over the course of the game, each of these players was to play a key role in Washington's eventual 16 - 13 win, but none more so than kicker John Hall who kicked the winning 33 yard field goal against his old team with only 5 seconds remaining in the match.

It was a great game, and despite the fact that our seats were so far back, the view was excellent. In the photograph above the use of a 24mm wide-angle lens has exaggerated the perspective, and made the field seem further away. In fact, the very steep cant of the upper deck meant that I felt close to the action, even though I was in the extreme top seats.

Football Crowd, FedEx Field
Minolta X-570 with 85mm f/2 MD Rokkor-X. Film: Kodak Portra 400UC

After the game, Phil and I headed home with the crush of humanity, all excited about the home town victory. It was a great night for me, because I had always wanted to see an NFL game, and now I had experienced that thrill.

The next day was going to be another good day for me, because I would be leaving Phil's house in Columbia Heights, and heading out to Gaithersburg in Maryland to meet up with my best friend, and companion for the balance of my journey, David. But best of all, our first day together was going to be spent exploring Gettysburg.

To Day 7 - Gettysburg
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