I just finished a project for a large panoramic print at a downtown law firm. At 100″ wide, the print came out great! More to come
Several months ago, I shot a scene on the Memorial Bridge for ABC 7 News’ dynamic weather background that viewers see during every forecast. After being Facebook friends with super TV personality and weatherman Steve Rudin for 5 years, I finally visited the ABC 7 studios in Rosslyn to meet Steve and the weather producer, Alex Liggitt and other notable personalities like Brian van de Graaff and Doug Hill. Everyone was super nice — especially Steve, who gave me the grand tour of the facility!
Check out the shots… woops about my collar 🙂
Next time you watch the weather, look out for my shot!
Last month, I flew out to Las Vegas for 3 nights of photography. It had been a long while since I took a trip dedicated to photography! As a new father, my world turned upside down and I found it to be much harder to spend extended time away from home. Every moment is so special and I find it hard to be away to miss even the slightest thing. But being out in the environment and doing photography helps me clear my head and mind when the rush of life overwhelms me. Taking the time to travel and explore is worth it for me.
I had considered several locations but settled on Las Vegas and Death Valley National Park. This was because of the really convenient flight out there and the fact that wildflowers were seeing a rare superbloom hadn’t seen for 10+ years. But, a day before I arrived at the park, a massive windstorm swept away the most prominent patches of wildflowers. No worries… I still had myself a great time.
I tried to stay flexible and free during my 3.5 days/3 nights in the area. I used a great field guide for Death Valley by Ron Coscorrosa and Sarah Marino that helped me triangulate on locations to hit. Though it was a blast, I think I stretched myself a little too thin and across too many places! I started further east at Death Valley, took a 1.5 day excursion west to the Alabama Hills, and circled back to Death Valley before departing. A lot of driving, a lot of hiking, a few beers, and even fewer hours of sleep — and these are the shots I have to show for it.
All in all, it was a really great trip. It helped that I was able to stay in contact, for the most part, with my wife and baby back home. Google hangouts from Alabama Hills – the best of both worlds being in an alien-like, grand landscape but still connected to those I love back home.
As for Death Valley itself, honestly, the first day or so underwhelmed me. I was wondering what the appeal was of this much-discussed National Park, where mud flats and distant mountains were the most prominent features. However, as I spent more time at the park, its subtleties and more grandiose parts of the environment showed themselves to me. The park itself is massive – so making a rush call on its entirety based on one location and evening was mistake #1. Also, it’s a place for all its scale that is so different from mile to mile. Take for example the Cottonball Basin or Panamint Playa, both of which I spent evenings photographing. As an outsider, I took for granted the formations in the salt and mud playas that were so distinctive in shots I had seen from this place. In truth, finding those photogenic locations is extremely difficult. After 5 hours searching on Panamint Playa across several square miles (hiking and by deplacing by car), I found a section I liked but not nearly as deep or graphic in nature as I had sought. It became clear to me that hikers and photographers have spent hours, days, weeks, months combing this park for gems that can be found with time and effort. And finding those gems was not only a photographic accomplishment but a true sight to behold.
Just this vignette about Panamint Playa reflects my thoughts on the park — there is so much diversity that can be found in relatively small spaces within this massive area. One really just needs to spend the time to find it. Couldn’t the same lesson be applied in most life situations?
On to the images. I am usually one to say “quality over quantity”, but in this case I find myself with almost too many images for 3.5 days. Nonetheless, each speaks to me in a different way and also serves to tell viewers about the different aspects of Death Valley National Park and the nearby landscapes in the Eastern Sierras. What an amazing stretch of natural beauty in this earth! Here they are in chronological order. Your thoughts are appreciated:
Dante’s View: a nice place to see the expanse of a section of the park. I shot this area in mid-day and was able to see some abstract shapes in the creeks that seep into Badwater Basin.
Cottonball Basin: Talk about misunderstanding a place. When I arrived here, I was pretty underwhelmed. I found the edges of this salt flat to be a little boring. A few more minutes in and steps toward center, and the otherworldly nature of this spot took hold. The delicate salt formations were foreboding but fragile. I immediately noticed that my footprints were affecting the crusty surface of the salt flat. Treading lightly, I searched for cool formations that reflected the sunset light.
Zabriskie Point: One of the most popular spots in all of Death Valley. I spent some time before sunrise here to capture twilight and some of the waning starlight. Beautiful formations but a little too crowded.
Twenty Mule Team Canyon: I found a section of cool badlands in this canyon and set out on foot, deeper and deeper into the canyon. The badlands were interesting in texture — a crumbly sort of mud that fell away as I drove my boots up the mountains. With such a texture, it seemed to me that each mountain of mud existed precariously and could wash away in a rainstorm — kind of reminded me of the quality of Kauai’s Waimea Canyon in the way the oxidized volcanic rock had been reduced to mounds of red ash just crumbling away. I followed faint footpaths on the edges of the canyon peaks, getting higher in elevation, and suddenly found a rock quarry peppered with desert gold wildflowers. Just past sunrise, it was a perfect complement to the waves of badlands, bathed in warm sunlight, looking towards the valley.
Alabama Hills: I booked it West for 3 hours, past the town of Lone Pine, CA to visit the amazing Alabama Hills. Wow! Such crazy formations in rock — varied from those organic shapes close to me in the Alabama Hills, differing to a pillar form closer to the Sierra Nevada Range, and ending with the massive range itself topped by Mount Whitney and still covered in snow. The hike around the hills was just amazing. The ground was covered of loose, soil-like, sepia sand. Within the sand grew tiny flowerbeds of varied colors blue, yellow, green, and white. I had to tread lightly to not damage those flowers or the equally frail cacti and other shrubs that hung onto life in Alabama Hills. I did not have the best lighting against the peaks of the Sierra Nevadas, but made do with the view – which was spectacular to say the least. I stayed overnight at a motel (finally – a bed and a shower) and hoped for some better light come morning. No such luck, but the clear skies allowed some continued twilight/starlight photography that I appreciated.
Panamint Playa: Back to Death Valley after sunrise, I decided to stay at one location to maximize the photographic opportunities and spend less time traveling. That said, it took a lot of time to scour the playa to find a good composition for sunset. I was determined to find some deep (say 6″ or more) cracks in the mud, but couldn’t find it. Instead, I found some interesting variations in the color of the cracked mud as it seemed to lead towards the beautiful Panamint Range, with its multicolored sandstone midsection that is so photogenic. The high clouds — that lingered throughout the day and teased me with promises of a colorful sunset — dissipated completely right before the sun started towards the horizon. So, not much color to be had but staying through sunset allowed me some twilight work. While many photographers cringe at the moon being present for night shots, I used it to help illuminate parts of the foreground and contribute to the blue skies that are lacking at night during moonless evenings.
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes: In September, I got the chance to spend a morning at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. Instantly, I knew that dune photography came very naturally to me, likely because I have been shooting a lot of abstracts lately. There’s not much better than a rising sun against rolling sand dunes when you love abstract photography. My flight was just near noon, so with not a whole lot of time, I hiked out to Mesquite Flat pre-sunrise and was able to capture a few shots before the fast hike (run) back to the car and onto Vegas. All that done, I still missed my flight home, but all was OK as I made it back just slightly later that evening.
This was a strenuous, action-packed, and fun excursion. Not everyone’s idea of a “vacation”, but a cathartic experience for me. I learned some things, as I always try to… in that I do think I covered too much ground with too little time, expending myself too much and perhaps not allowing enough time for mindless exploration and art by osmosis. Also, I reminded myself to COMPARTMENTALIZE when it comes to packing and using gear in the field. When I throw everything together, I can’t find my items as quickly and ultimately lose or forget something. Yes, the light could have been better too, but such is life and I saw some amazing things. I can’t complain.
I hope you enjoyed visiting Death Valley and Alabama Hills through my experience and art. Till next time!
Last night, I led a private workshop at the Navy Merchant Marine memorial to see the willows and tulips that adorn the site in early spring. We were treated to a beautiful pink and orange sunset that made the view that much nicer. Your comments are appreciated 🙂
This year, I probably went out for cherry blossoms more than I had any previous year that I can remember. I woke up for a few sunrises, stayed for a few sunsets, and spent some time exploring during the day. As a landscape photographer, there is a fine line between capturing what is presented to you (in weather, blooms, people) and creating something with what you have. Lately, I have been focusing on the latter — trying to create an image given the available elements. Sometimes those elements are inherently beautiful, and therefore popular. Think a blazing orange and pink sunrise – not many people wake up for those, they aren’t very common, and very rarely can one get it framed right above some photogenic elements such as cherry blossoms and the Washington Monument. It’s easy to see why those shots are so popular. Sometimes, the environment doesn’t give you the inherent WOW factor so you have to try to create it yourself. It’s a good exercise in creation that I always enjoy. The practice also helps for when the elements do line up perfectly – I find myself more able to capture shots I find unique and fulfilling.
This year, the cherry blossoms themselves were very nice — as they are most years. The weather we had was also nice, but not stunning. We had a few clear days, a few cloudy days, but no real days of stunning colors. I still had a very nice time shooting at primarily the Tidal Basin, avoiding crowds by going at select times, and shooting solo with friends, and workshop participants.
So here I present to you my cherry blossom shots of 2016. Following these images will be more of the city, some long overdue Air Force Memorial shots, and some images from Death Valley I captured last month:
Last night, I went to the Memorial Bridge to capture the moonrise after sunset over the Washington D.C. monuments. I had a photography workshop to capture the same moon on Sunday, and had canceled because all forecasts pointed to heavy, consistent rain near sunset. Not even a drop fell, by my count! Anyways, I had another chance to shoot the “snow moon”, and decided on this vantage point given the point in sky the moon was rising.
The moon started out as a soft orange as it pushed through low, post-sunset blue and purple clouds:
As the moon rose higher in the sky, it became brighter and the clouds turned darker and more orange with the city lights. I moved towards the left to keep the moon between the monuments as it rose towards the Washington Monument:
The moon high in the sky now was very bright. I used two exposures so to show the detail of the moon along with the foreground. The shimmering body was amazing to see reflected in the Potomac river:
Lead a private workshop yesterday evening… an it wasn’t until very late that a sliver of sky cut through the clouds. I didn’t think it had much potential but I was duped — pink soon surrounded in the sky. The extreme water levels at Great Falls made this section look especially strong & violent. Awesome and cold night to be out!
Last week, our area was pounded by Winter Storm Jonas and its nearly 30″ of snow. It took a few days to dig out, and I was finally able to get to do some post storm shooting. I tried on the few days after the storm and found some of the parks I hoped to shoot were still closed for the weather.
The forecast was for rain/freezing rain yesterday evening — but it did not stop me from trying to shoot. It’s a guessing game with weather. You can never know what you will find once you are in the field. In yesterday’s case, there were beautifully textured blue clouds before sunset. As the sun dipped in the sky, the low clouds caught a mix of sun and city lights to present a beautiful reddish purple hue that is so frequently found in the city. It’s one of my favorite times to shoot. I captured a couple of different looks of the memorial before the rain and freezing rain set in on me and my camera.
I was glad to keep the momentum up from shooting the storm and hope to get out again soon!
Yesterday afternoon, I geared up in my warmest waterproof winter gear and spent 5 hours on the National Mall photographing the onset of the 2016 Blizzard nicknamed “Snowzilla”. Unless someone can offer me transport today, it looks like yesterday was my only opportunity to travel down to the city to capture the falling snow before Sunday. Hopefully, things clear enough so that I can get back down after the nearly 30″ of snow we are expecting! In the meantime, here is what I captured through sunset of last night. The snow was falling pretty consistently, but shifted from fluffy puffs to a glittery mist. It was a blast being out there. Everyone stay warm, hopefully have more to share in the coming days…
Here is my opinion of my best work of 2015! I whittled it down to 10 images — tougher than I expected but a good exercise in curation. This year, I didn’t get to travel much for photography but still was able to capture a decent variation of scenes. I hope to travel much more in the coming years and see my photography continue to grow. I hope you enjoy the collection of shots from this year — organized in chronological order:
I’m on a roll — going through images from my hard drive and finishing those I have never presented. Here’s a set of nature images, including one from the White Mountains of the Eastern Sierra. I tried processing this photo several times in the past and never liked the results. Finally, I have something worth sharing…
Which do you prefer, my DC or nature portfolio?
I have continued to search through my archives to present images I had not finished before. In this set, I present several shots that show how colorful the city can be. Using water, such as the Potomac River and the Tidal Basin, can help to exaggerate color through reflections where colorful light is mirrored below the subject itself. What do you think of this set?
Another shot from the vault, an amazing sunrise at the Tidal Basin and the Jefferson Memorial as seen from the Martin Luther King Memorial. I used a fast shutter speed here to catch the light in the ripples of the water.
As I haven’t been out as much as I would like to shoot, I have been finishing a few images that have been in the vault. Here are some from the Tidal Basin, Martin Luther King Memorial, and the Air Force Memorial
Yesterday, I went out for the sunrise at the World War II Memorial in honor of the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. The World War II Memorial is one of my favorites in the city, though relatively hard to photograph. The key is to hone in on the most graphical elements of the scene, which for me is often the huge fountains in the center. I used a fast shutter speed for a more “triumphant” look to counter the infamy of this day:
While walking to the memorial, I also encountered some of the Yoshino trees lining the National Mall. As Angela Fritz detailed in a Washington Post column, some of the trees are blooming cherry blossoms! It is really crazy to see during the cold month of December.
What is even rarer, it seems, is to see a blossom side by side with a turned leaf. Pretty sweet to see… wonder how many more there are in the city:
Till next time…
Now that November has come, DC is seeing peak fall foliage envelope the city. Alongside the foliage was a really nice sunset last night at the Martin Luther King Memorial and Jefferson Memorial
A couple of weeks ago, I flew out to Colorado to tour the amazing landscapes there during early fall. In fact, we decided to take the trip for my moms birthday. To this point, all of my photography trips have been solo affairs where I am completely focused on shooting. That involves staying as close as possible to the sights and tailoring my entire schedule to capturing the location with every available moment I have. This time, it was a more compromised approach to capture photos where possible, but also do the normal touring and vacationing non photographers do! Given this there was less of a focus on photography overall during this quick 3 night trip, but I must say I was pretty impressed with the flexibility my mom showed! It’s hard to follow a photographer when he is less focused on the quality of accommodations and food and more focused on finding amazing sights.
Overall we had a great time! We visited places such as the Garden of the Gods, Great Sand Dunes National Park, and Crested Butte. I had the most time to capture images at Great Sand Dunes National Park, where I took the morning to explore the playground of the towering sand stacks. Other than that, we had a great time driving through the amazing mountains and just-turning leaves of the aspens of Colorado.
Through this post, I also want to describe something that has been on my mind regarding the way I am producing images as of this moment.
In my journey as a landscape photographer, I started with the inspiration that feeds so many other photographers like me. I was amazed by the gargantuan scenes with whopping color and shape that some of the most prominent photographers captured. I only dreamed of capturing the same types of images. In looking at the way they captured their shots, often times they went for extreme sharpness and resolution, exploiting every single capability of the most modern cameras and lenses. I followed suit as much as possible, learning techniques such as HDR, focus stacking, etc. and searching for wide and dramatic scenes.
This approach has worked for me, as I have become technically more proficient in using the tools we photographers have available. But over time, a couple of things have happened.
For one, I’ve spent more time closer to home (for various reasons), and have developed a style that dramatizes smaller landscapes. I haven’t been able to visit those grandiose sights I’ve dreamed of. Think Canadian Rockies, Patagonia, Iceland, and all of the other hotspots. This has made me spend more time refining my compositions to isolate the most interesting pieces of what I see. I’ve developed a style that integrates lines and shapes, however large or small. I have gone less wide angle and more zoom, often times forgoing the sky and sunsets/sunrise color in the clouds that so many photographers chase. I think this is a good thing, as it’s refined my eye in a way that has been, frankly, very difficult. I think I can apply this method back to the large scenes when I encounter them again.
Also, I’ve adopted a more fine art approach to my images as a result of working closer with the art community. I have had the good fortune of collaborating with fine art consultants in the Washington DC area and have taken note on what they find appealing. It’s rarely the super saturated sunset or sunrise that so many landscape photographers chase. It’s more subtle with color, as to perhaps be more realistic, but conversely more liberal with exposure, which adds an additional creative element that is missed in traditional landscape photography. Some themes that fine art buyers go for contradict landscape photography rules: center compositions, intentional motion blur that reduces sharpness, vignetting, under exposure and black and white. I find that this type of imagery is much harder to make well, but more fulfilling when achieved.
I’ve seen the effects of these two factors on my images. They are closer comps, more moody, and sometimes fly in the face of “good” landscape photography. Now, when I’m in the field, I may decide to handhold, open up, forgo a tripod, try a motion or zoom blur, pump the ISO where I wouldn’t before. I also am very enthusiastic about “poor” shooting conditions that so many photographers lament – blue skies, rain, fog, cloudiness. In fact, the last two trips I made were under completely blue skies and rainy conditions. I view these conditions to provide unique opportunities that are available if you stretch yourself.
My mom captured me shooting during the weekend! As you can see, lots of handheld shooting! BLASPHEMY!
There is certainly a risk in this approach as I could and have sacrificed potentially nice traditional landscape photography opportunities for something more artistic. But, I have decided that, if I am truly an artist, its of the utmost importance that I find and cultivate a unique perspective. I will always try my best to originate images and offer new takes on existing sights. I’m not the guy to hike 100miles in the barren desert to find a scene never captured. But I am a guy to challenge myself to capture that scene in ways never seen before.
It’s an ongoing process and, sometimes, a struggle that provides a meaningful challenge and motivation to continue shooting. I hope that some of you can identify with my process or results and try, yourself, to create something new. I draw much of my inspiration from artists who push the limits. I hope that over time, I can do the same.
We just came back from a one day trip in Blackwater Falls State Park and Canaan Valley in West Virginia! Though it was wet and foggy, it was really nice to see the sights in the park. I think too often, landscape photographers worry about “great” weather and colorful sunsets/sunrises. Weather like this challenges you to create something new.
I had been planning to shoot the late evening, crescent moon for some time. Finally, conditions and situations aligned and I took myself down to DC to shoot the sunset and moonset at the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and World War II Memorial. It was definitely one of the nicer evenings I can remember being out, and I think I captured a few varied looks that add to my portfolio.
Last night was clear, but beautiful as a soft pink hugged the horizon below deep blues and the clear sky, If you haven’t been to the Air Force Memorial, you’re missing out on one of the nicest structures in the city
From the archives — a shot from below the Jefferson Memorial. I used an ultra wide angle and wide aperture for artistic effect.
As a landscape photographer, often times I must plan and travel to capture a shot I want. Sometimes, it is a grueling process that involves skimping on sleep, hiking long distances (perhaps in the dark), carrying gear, and finding the way home.
This process is essential to create many provocative photographs. But it’s not the only method. Many times one can create a moving photograph by not traveling too far, but allowing your mind to wander an brainstorm creations.
During our vacation to Clearwater Beach, I didn’t make much time for landscape photography — instead, I made time for relaxing with the family. Our daily sight was the Gulf of Mexico, where we witnessed the dramatic changing of light and color with the transitions in weather. My eyes and attention were always drawn to infinity and the horizon over the water, and with the varied situations in weather allowed me to feel different emotions.
While I did not travel far for each shot, I spent time and effort in creating a series of images that captured my thoughts. Instead of traveling and finding the image, I let the image come me — through time and reflection. If I apply a similar method to my shots when traveling to a location, invariably I find better results and that I create more powerful shots. Now, your thoughts are appreciated 🙂
You know the spot. I know the spot. I’m lucky to be the official photographer for the Air Force Memorial, one of the most majestic memorials I know — in Washington, D.C. or elsewhere!
I recently finished a project to stock a prominent Washington, D.C. law firm with 5 large format canvas works! It was an awesome project and the designer did a wonderful job with the entire office (not just photography). Here’s a sample of one of the works, a 51″ x 82″ print of the U.S. Capitol. More shots of all the prints coming soon!
Today, we witnessed an excellent sunset as some storms passed over Washington DC. It was a while since I have been out, and I definitely had fun catching up with all in the my workshop group. Hope to see some of you soon!
It’s been an eventful past several months with some pretty sweeping life changes. Some great, some bad, but such is life. While these events have taken my time and thoughts away from photography, lately I have come back around to re-evaluate my plans. I constantly ask myself questions to make sure that I am following the right path. I ask myself… what makes me happy? Where am I taking photography next?
I keep coming back to the fact that more than anything, I really just love being out there and capturing images. I have to do as much as I can to keep up the momentum and get out there again. And while I love teaching photography, so much so that I joined a prominent, worldwide photography workshop company, I still want to do some exploring on my own.
I’m happy that although I have taken some time away from photography, the business side of it continues to grow. I’m actively licensing my images and selling prints. In fact, I was happy to say I had my single biggest sale of my career this summer. I continue to make concerted efforts to make my photography commercially appealing, while also trying to stay true to the art. Sometimes these goals come together – and sometimes they don’t (more on this in a future post, perhaps).
As I ramp up and get myself back out there, I wanted to share some images that I finished from the vault. DC photography remains a priority for me, commercially and artistically:
Thanks for looking and your support!
My father passed away 2 weeks ago today. While we knew his end was coming, it really did not do much to dull the pain. In the spirit of the future and my dad’s wishes, I have tried my best to think positively about the future. He was an accomplished man and always proud of me. I think he would have wanted me to publish my eulogy to him and his obituary, which I had the honor to help him write. While I will always miss my father, I truly do believe the things I said in his eulogy, and will always strive to perpetuate his legacy in my daily life.
I thought twice about posting this to my photography website — this post has little to do with photography. But it does have to do with my life’s inspiration and direction going forward along with my spirit. And photography has always been a channel for my spirit. Besides the fact that my dad was directly inspirational in me becoming a photographer (more on that here).
I also must thank every person who took the time to write a facebook comment or message, a text or email, call me, and come to my father’s services. I really do want to thank each one of you individually. If somehow I miss you, please know I am aware of each of you and sincerely found some solace and comfort in your words. They really meant a lot to me, especially in the days immediately after he passed.
Now, onto words about my dad:
Eulogy to my Father
Many of you here had the distinct honor of knowing my father but for those of you who didn’t know him well I want to give you a glimpse into the life of a man who is so influential to those around him.
My father was a vibrant soul who rode ambition, talent, and hard work to world renown breakthroughs in cancer detection and treatment. In over 20 years of work as a leading NIH lab scientist, Dr. Padman Sarma’s work resulted in significant advancements in animal and human sciences including leukemia, sarcoma, influenza, rubella, testicular cancer, and HIV/AIDS. He was also a brave pioneer who was the first immigrant from our family to the USA from India who inspired an entire community of family to follow him here.
But it wasn’t for these grand reasons that so many people were enthralled with and devoted to my father. He was a magnetic spirit who charmed everyone he met on a personal level with his wit, humor, and easygoing nature. He was electric and bubbly, eager to strike conversation, make jokes, or band together an impromptu group musical performance. He was a man of positive energy, one who always saw the bright side of negative situations and advised for cooler heads and reconciliation. He was generous with love and selflessly devoted his time to the people he cared about, especially if they had fallen ill. He was a man of great influence, whose decisions altered the course of scores of lives. He was a light hearted person, who loved to simply pass time with someone and provide full his attention to their company. He was an encouraging person, who praised everything I did and provided only support to take it further. He was an agreeable person, who valued the opinion and desires of those around him. He was a doting person, who was so enchanted with love for me as his child that on a whim and casual desire, bought me a 1200 dollar drum set which I never used. He was a patient person, one who rarely lost his cool and offered instead to help, like when I one by one lost my wallet, cash, and travelers checks when traveling abroad. He was an artful and sentimental person, who enjoyed nature and exploring and inspired my own love of the arts. He was a musical person, who appreciated a melody of any form, Indian classical or even electronic. The list goes on and on about the amazing qualities of my father, who I affectionately always called, “Appa”.
Family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances all can attest to Appa’s kind and friendly demeanor. His personality allowed him to make strong connections across the world, some that have lasted nearly 75 years. He has had many admirers who consider themselves lucky to have found themselves in his company,
The last few years of his life were extremely difficult for Appa, far more than anyone else. He was a victim to a terrible disease that eventually took his life. Each day became harder than the last, to the point where his body finally relented and decided to end his days on earth. But his resilient spirit endured and lasted with him until the very end. Just days before his passing, he was laughing at old jokes and enjoying listening to music, including the many pieces he composed. Despite everything that had happened to Appa, he mataintaned a positive attitude about life to the very end – an inspiration as to the strength of resolve that we can only hope for in our lives.
In some ways, I lost Appa some years ago but was granted a much longer goodbye that many never have with their loved ones. But When he was finally gone, I felt an incredible void carved in my soul which Will never be filled. My father, my biggest fan and advocate, my teacher, role model, my good friend, is lost from this earth. but very soon after feeling this void, my mind naturally switched to the memories of his old self. His voice that progressively diminished after the toll of Parkinson’s, was suddenly rejuvenated and reinvigorated in my mind. While I spent much of the last few years wondering what Appa thought, felt, and wanted, now that he’s free of the shackles of disease and worldliness, I now have a clearer window into his soul, and what wanted for me, than I ever did.
While I mourn the loss of my beloved father from this earth, I take solace in that I believe his soul endures. His soul has returned to the heavenly, continuous fabric from which we are all woven. It’s the same place that blesses us with new souls, like Appa’s newborn granddaughter Veda. To me, this fabric of soul not only can create new friends and loved ones, but is available to anyone who misses my father and wishes to engage him again. remember his demeanor, relay his words, recall his intentions. Soon you will feel his spirit with you and know his responses to your every question.
I will move confidently forward with my fathers soul firmly within me and voice In my ear, guiding me through the rest of my life. I will take solace in knowing what he would want for me. He would want me not to worry about him, know that he is finally without pain. He would ask me to take care of the family and be strong for them. He would ask me to chase my dreams and remember that I am capable. And most of all, he would remind me to be generous and love others, as he did. Through these continued actions in life I can maintain his legacy and inspire our family’s future generations to carry the gift of my fathers soul far into the future.
Obituary of Dr. Padman Subramanyam Sarma
World-renown NIH scientist, avid orator and musician, devoted father
Dr. Padman Sarma, a world-renown research scientist whose life’s work significantly advanced the field of cancer research, including the detection and treatment of cancer-inducing viruses in animals and humans, died on June 24, 2015 at the age of 83 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Dr. Sarma was born in India to a physician/surgeon father who was trained under the British during their rule. After receiving his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine in India in 1953, Dr. Sarma studied in the U.S., graduating from the University of Minnesota with a Master’s degree in 1957 and another Doctorate in microbiology in 1959. Returning to India, he served as a Research Scientist and Veterinarian in the Pasteur Institute in Coonoor where he worked to improve tissue culture methods to help develop potent vaccines for the smallpox virus.
He immigrated to the U.S. with his family in 1961. After a teaching assignment as Assistant Professor in Virology in the University of Kentucky for one year, he was invited to the National Institutes of Health to serve as Visiting Scientist where he began his noteworthy and pioneering studies on avian leukosis viruses. Upon being promoted to the position of a career NCI research scientist in 1966, he continued his research on retroviruses. In 1971, he was promoted as the head of the Animal Virology and Field Studies section.
In over 20 years of research as a lab scientist, Dr. Sarma’s nearly one hundred publications and studies significantly advanced the field of cancer research. He pioneered methods to test for cancer-causing viruses and fight cancer in both animals and humans, and enabled advancements in sciences including leukemia, sarcoma, influenza, rubella, testicular cancer, and HIV/AIDS. Specifically, Dr. Sarma:
- Dr. Sarma discovered the COFAL test, which was a simplified technique to detect leukemia-inducing viruses in genetic material of chicken tissue cells. This test helped to enable the crucial influenza vaccine, as COFAL tested to see if certain influenza vaccines were contaminated with cancer causing viruses. This test served as a model for a similar approach to detect leukemia-inducing viruses of other species and the human Rubella virus.
- Dr. Sarma also developed the COCAL test, to detect cat leukemia that grew silently in cells and discovered a wide variance in subgroups of the cat leukemia virus. He developed a purified strain dubbed internationally as the “Sarma C Strain” of cat leukemia that caused anemia in cats and aided further research on anemia for all species.
- Additionally, Dr. Sarma showed that cat leukemia and sarcoma can cross species and infect human cells and cause cancerous changes and but also confirmed that these mutations do not result in human cancer.
- Dr. Sarma was among the very first to use interferons to fight cancer. He demonstrated the interferon, an antiviral protective substance naturally produced by living tissue in response to virus infection, inhibited the growth of mouse leukemia virus in cultured mouse cells. These early laboratory studies of animal model tumor viruses paved the way for the use of interferon to treat certain forms of human cancers such as testicular cancers.
- Dr. Sarma’s later studies showed that blood protein in mice showed the ability to neutralize the infectivity of mouse leukemia virus. Based on this finding he and Wallace Rowe of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH developed a sensitive test for the quantitation of mouse antibodies against mouse leukemia viruses
In 1983, he transferred to the extramural program of the NCI as a Program Director, a position he continued until his retirement in 1995. From 1983 to 1996, he taught a Medical Virology course at the NIH, sponsored by the Foundation for the Advancement of Science at the NIH.Outside of his scientific work, Dr. Sarma also was an avid orator and self-taught musician. An active participant and leader in Toastmasters clubs, he was a charter co-founding member and club president many times of the very first toastmasters club at the NIH, the NIH Toastmasters club, which was chartered in 1969. Subsequently, he founded the NIH Evening Speakers Club in 1982 to obtain the highest Distinguished Toastmaster diploma awarded by the Toastmasters International. Both clubs are functioning very well with the several enthusiastic club members. As a mentor, he helped countless individuals to sharpen their leadership and public speaking skills. He was a composer of piano music and was proficient in several musical instruments, including the guitar, violin, mandolin, harmonica, flute, and accordion. Dr. Sarma was remarkably adept at many other activities, including architecture and design of multiple building and renovation projects in his homes, art as a photographer and proficient drawer, and even acting, serving parts in a TV drama and the movie, “Enemy of the State”. Late in his life, Dr. Sarma kept active in his local community as a real estate agent, helping his contacts and friends find homes in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
Family and friends knew Dr. Sarma as a kind and soft soul, one who rarely raised his voice to a point of contention. They also pay homage to his stature as the first immigrant to the United States – whose sponsorship of family allowed a blossoming family tree that now nears one hundred members. His children knew him as a very loving, supportive, and generous father.
Survivors include his wife Raji and their two children, Nalina and Navin, and five children Sheila, Chander, Marla, Lila and Cynthia and several grandchildren through his previous marriage.
Last Sunday, I headed back to the MD side of Great Falls, otherwise known as the C&O Canal National Historic Park to shoot the sunset and the Great Blue Herons that populate the park during this time of year. This is my preferred location to shoot the herons over the VA side. If you want to know why – feel free to ask 🙂
This past Sunday, I led a workshop at Great Falls National Park to catch the sunset and the Great Blue Herons that frequent the park at this time of year. I could count at least 15 birds, all majestic and graceful in the way they spar with their rivals, soar, and hunt (successfully) in the violent rapids of the Potomac River. I am leading another workshop from the Maryland side next week — a side I prefer to shoot on when shooting the birds. Come join me!
A little over a year ago, I shared some paintings that were created with inspiration from my images. It’s really quite humbling and amazing that people can somehow identify with what I shoot and represent it in their own renditions.
Cut to this month, when another image of mine, “Girl with Dog” from Cusco, Peru in 2009 was painted by Nora Swallows. Better than the original, in my opinion! Below the painting is an image for your reference.
Inspiration is such an interesting concept. We all have this intangible feeling in one way or another that motivates us to push ourselves further than we knew possible. I can’t take credit for inspiring someone else, since I feel I’m “paying it forward” by how the environment inspires me. Regardless, it’s a good feeling.
This past Sunday, I ran a workshop at C&O National Historic Park, otherwise known as Great Falls Park on the Maryland side (at least that’s how I refer to it). We initially were at the banks of the falls, looking towards the Great Blue Herons that have begun to gather there. Seeing the potential for a particular look in the approaching sunset, we quickly scampered to another section of the park to capture this scene:
I just got back from shooting at the Air Force Memorial for the WWII Victory flyover. While a little bit removed from the action, it was still an amazing sight to see the old planes flying high above the skyline and the memorial and to chat with WWII vets themselves. I love shooting for the Air Force Memorial and the access they gave me… including a reserved parking spot and a ladder to get me in the only vantage point where I could include spires in the frame!
After an extended period away from teaching due to the birth of our first child, I resumed photography workshops in Washington DC this past Sunday. I conducted the workshop at the Netherlands Carillion in Arlington, where in the spring time there is a grand showing of tulips facing the Washington DC Skyline, including the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and U.S. Capitol.
The tulips had just begun to wilt, so we searched around to find a composition that highlighted the best of the bunch. I got low into the ground to eliminate the distracting midground and used a depth of field blend to blur out some of the wilted tulips in the foreground, while maintaining their color through a bokeh effect.
On this night, we also had the opportunity to view the full moon as it rose over the eastern horizon. It was too far south to include in contrast to the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and U.S. Capitol, so I tried to get a little creative. I repositioned the camera to include only the fullest tulips and used a zoom to fill the top of the frame with the full moon. Since using a zoom exacerbates the depth of field, I used a depth of field blend: one focusing on the foreground tulips and one on the background moon, while leaving the uninteresting midground as a blur.
Thanks for looking! Hope you can get outside to enjoy this month’s wonderful weather.
Here’s a recent set of images I made from the Air Force Memorial. Not only is it marvellously grand in person, it is also a wonderfully photogenic structure. At wide angles, one can capture the great expanse to the sky and can create interesting shapes with the different angles of the Memorial’s dramatically curved spires. The sheen steel also brilliantly illuminates with sunlight, creating some exciting shape and color.
I find myself always moving to a panoramic when I shoot at this side of the Tidal Basin (near the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and Martin Luther King Memorial). In contrast to my last image, this was slightly later in the morning just after the sun had risen. The brighter and more direct sunlight turned the pinks in the high sky to a more orange color. But the dramatic shape and color of the sunrise was not lost.
This is a stitch of 5 images shot vertically at f/10, ISO 320, 6 sec and merged into a panoramic.
Sunrise at the Tidal Basin offers many opportunities for a landscape photographer. For one, one encounters a very nice perspective when facing due east, where the sun and moon rise and color in the sky would appear on days when weather will allow it. Also, it provides a very nice view towards the Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument. Lastly, the Tidal Basin itself is a great compositional element – a fast shutter speed can render very nice textures and distorted reflections and a long exposure can reflect the sky like a mirror.
Yesterday morning, the high clouds lit up just enough on either side of the frame. I used a long exposure to reflect this same drama in the water. I actually had to tone down the color due to some white balance warming that inevitably comes while using (supposedly NEUTRAL, but not really) neutral density filters.
This image, as well as all others on my website, is available to purchase as an image license or stock image of Washington DC or for print.
NPS recently announced that the peak bloom for cherry blossoms in 2015 in Washington DC and the Cherry Blossom Festival is April 11-15 2015. You can read more on the National Cherry Blossom Festival or NPS website.
The past few years have flipped between peaks in March and April. This picture is from March 2011, when the following morning I captured my most popular image, Awakening. I passed by this image for years and finally decided to process it… I actually like it quite a bit since it shows the Cherry Blossoms in a bit different scene – under twilight and stars. I spent a bit of time dodging the stars so they would come out brighter – so I would consider this image as one where I took some fine art liberties.
Nice to see my shots commissioned for the Air Force Memorial all over the 2015 Calendar and Brochure! I counted 10 of my images (including the cover) on the calendar, and all of the images on the brochure! Go check it out next time you’re visiting the Air Force Memorial — in my opinion the most dramatic and one of the most beautiful structures in the area!