Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial by Todd Henson

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial with yellow wreath

In commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday let’s take a short visit to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, located in West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C. The street address of the memorial is 1964 Independence Avenue, S.W., referencing the year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and cherry blossoms across tidal basin

The memorial opened to the public in 2011. The design, created by ROMA Design Group, centers on a large stone sculpture created by the Chinese artist Master Lei Yixin. In the sculpture Martin Luther King, Jr. is seemingly pulled from a mountain of stone behind it. The theme for this design came from part of the 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech where King said, “With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.” Behind all this is a curved wall of quotations facing the tidal basin, and wide walkways to accommodate large numbers visitors.

Cherry blossoms, crowds and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial across tidal basin

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial across tidal basin with Lincoln Memorial in background

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial with yellow wreath and controversial drum major quote

It didn’t take long before there was some controversy surrounding the memorial. One of the quotations on the side of the main sculpture read, “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.” This was a paraphrase from the longer, “If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.” Some people felt the paraphrased quote misrepresented King’s words, so in 2013 the text was removed from the sculpture.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial with drum major quote

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial with stone of hope quote

I photographed the memorial both with and without the controversial quote. Seeing how things do change over time reminded me why it’s important to take the time to photograph subjects when you’re there, regardless of whether you think the photo might turn out well. Sometimes it’s more about documenting something you may never see again, or something that may never happen again. Times do change, and we won’t always have a second chance to go back and photograph it again. This is something I need to periodically be reminded of.

Long exposure showing moving crowds around Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (drum major quote removed). This photograph is an Infrared black and white.

Another angle of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in infrared black and white

If you’d like to learn more about the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial visit the National Park Service website dedicated to the memorial. And by all means, if you have the opportunity, go visit the memorial and the many others in the area. The tidal basin is especially beautiful during early spring when the cherry trees are in bloom. It gets very crowded, but it’s always worth the trip.

Profile of sculpture at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Black and white of Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Washington Monument in background

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. The American holiday marking his birthday occurs the 3rd Monday of each January. In 2017, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is January 16.

Sculpture at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial through cherry blossoms

Sculpture at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Some of the images in this post first appeared in Washington, D.C. Cherry Blossoms - 2016. A different version of an infrared image of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial was posted in Infrared Experiments During National Cherry Blossom Festival. And for images of more National Park lands, including monuments and memorials around Washington, D.C., check out National Park Service Centennial.

National Park Service Centennial by Todd Henson

The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) turned 100 on Thursday, August 25, 2016. The National Parks, and other lands managed by the NPS, truly are some of the jewels of the United States. The NPS works to preserve some of the most beautiful locations in the country, while still keeping them open and accessible to the public. I have benefited greatly from this system of parks and monuments, and I hope they continue to be preserved far into the future.

I have not visited nearly as many of the parks or monuments as I would like, but included in this post are photographs from a number of the locations I have had the privilege of visiting, sometimes multiple times. The National Park Foundation can help you find a park near you.

National Park lands are known for their iconic scenic views, beautiful mountain ranges, flowing streams and waterfalls, and fields of flowers. But they are also home to wildlife of all sorts: mammals, reptiles, birds, spiders, etc. And the Park lands also include many monuments and memorials showcasing fantastic statues and amazing architecture. If you haven't been to a National Park, Monument, or Memorial lately, get out there! Go visit one today. And take along your camera, create a few images. It's worth the trip.


Locations Around the National Mall, Washington, D.C.

Lincoln Memorial at night

Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool at dawn

Washington Monument & Cherry Blossoms Reflected in the Tidal Basin

National World War II Memorial Water Fountains

Storm over the Washington Monument and Tidal Basin in Black & White

Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial in Infrared

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial and Washington Monument in Black & White

Closeup of Jefferson Memorial in Black & White


Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens, Washington, D.C.

Lotus Flower and Bumble Bee against green background

White Water Lily in dark pond

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Bridge in Infrared

Dragonfly on unopened Lotus Flower


Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park in Black & White

Pika in Rocky Mountain National Park

Uinta Chipmunk in Rocky Mountain National Park

Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park

Clark's Nutcracker in Rocky Mountain National Park

Yellow-bellied Marmot in Rocky Mountain National Park

Facing the Storm in Rocky Mountain National Park (Black & White)


Acadia National Park, Maine

Long exposure of a rocky shoreline in Acadia National Park, Maine (warmer tones)

Long exposure of a rocky shoreline in Acadia National Park, Maine (cooler tones)

Panorama of inlet and rocky beach in Acadia National Park, Maine


Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Maryland

Falls Along Canal in Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

Great Blue Heron Above Falls in Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

Double-crested Cormorant in Potomac River at Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park


Great Falls Park, Virginia

Prelude to Rafting at Great Falls Park in Virginia

Kayakers in Potomac River at Great Falls Park

To the Falls, Great Falls Park

Facing The Fingers on the Potomac River at Great Falls Park


Turkey Run Park, George Washington Memorial Parkway, Virginia

Blue Phlox at Turkey Run Park

Yellow Trout Lily at Turkey Run Park


Prince William Forest Park, Virginia

Stream in Prince William Forest Park

Quaker Ladies Flowers in Prince William Forest Park

Daisy Fleabane Flower in Prince William Forest Park

Arrowhead Orbweaver Spider in Prince William Forest Park


Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Skyline Drive Sunset in Shenandoah National Park

Flowers along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park


The resource list below contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. This is at no extra cost to you.


Resources from my library

National Parks: Our American Landscape
Earth Aware Editions

Ian Shive, recipient of the Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography, is well known for photographing America's National Parks. His work is showcased in a book titled, The National Parks: Our American Landscape. I own a paperback edition of this book, and it contains some fantastic imagery, along with a number of essays by different writers. The book is in landscape format, approximately 8" x 10.5" and is 228 pages in length.

Ian's photos in this book present a far better sampling of our National Parks than I've done above. He has visited and photographed a great many of the parks over the years, capturing all aspects of them, from the iconic to the smaller, more subtle details. I believe Ian is a true master of his craft.

Photographing America's National Parks  with Ian Shive.  Image credit: CreativeLive

Photographing America's National Parks with Ian Shive. Image credit: CreativeLive

In addition to the book mentioned above, Ian Shive has taught a 3-day class at CreativeLive titled, Photographing America's National Parks. This class includes over 15 1/2 hours of video, along with several PDF documents with extra info, such as the keynote slides and some amazing examples of Ian's work. I own this class and really enjoyed watching it. This was the first CreativeLive class to take the studio out to a National Park, allowing Ian to demonstrate, in the field, how he goes about creating his images. Most of the topics he discusses are relevant to any form of outdoor nature photography, whether in a local park, National Park, or just in your own backyard. In fact, he advocates starting in your backyard. Most of us have something near us worth photographing, and having it close by gives us the opportunity to easily return over and over again at different times of the day and during different seasons. We can really learn the place. And this helps later when we travel to other locations because we've already spent the time locally learning our lessons, getting to know our gear, learning about light and composition, knowing what's possible.

The class includes many videos on location. The locations include several parks along the Olympic Peninsula, such as Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier National Park. In some videos Ian takes us through a photo shoot, describing what he sees and what he's thinking as he works the scene. In others he takes us on a scouting trip, looking for scenes that might prove promising at a different time in different light.

Back in the studio he talks about how to select and edit your images and takes us through his process. As with many of the CreativeLive photography classes, this one includes critique sessions where they discuss student photographs. These are great learning sessions. Later he talks about the business side of nature photography, describing different markets for selling your work, including a stock agency he founded, Tandem Stills + Motion.

Photographing America's National Parks is available seperately or as part of the Travel Photography Toolkit, which also includes: Post-Processing for Outdoor and Travel Photographers with Ben Willmore and Travel Photography: The Complete Guide with Ben Wilmore. I purchased the first two and received a free copy of Travel Photography: The Complete Guide.


Book Review - The Red: First Light by Linda Nagata by Todd Henson

Infrared image without white balance adjustment

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. This is at no extra cost to you. I received my copy of The Red from the author through a giveaway at SF Signal (a site that is, sadly, no longer around).

Creativity exists in many different forms. I think all creatives benefit from experiencing as many forms of creativity as possible. With creative photography the photographer may craft a story or evoke an emotion with an image. It is up to the viewer to put words to the story or to experience the emotion. The viewer is a part of the creative process. Different viewers may create completely different stories from an image. Literature is similar. Authors craft the words of the story and it is up to the reader to conjure the images, emotions, sounds. Each form of creativity is similar in that there are at least two creatives at work, the one creating the original piece of art and the one experiencing the art using their own imagination.

This website is primarily about my photography. I see scenes that affect me in various ways and I attempt to create images that will allow viewers to share my experiences. I hope the viewers will experience some emotion when viewing my photos, even if it differs from my own when creating the image. If I’ve done my job correctly viewers may find stories in a few of my images. I think any photographer can improve their abilities by experiencing as many forms of creative expression as possible, to learn how other creatives express themselves, to learn other ways of expressing an emotion or telling a story. Reading great books is one way of doing this. First is the simple joy of experiencing a new world created by the author and brought to life by a synthesis of the authors words and your own imagination in how you visualize and experience the world they’ve created. Another purpose of reading is to learn about the creative process. Granted you can’t know how the author goes about their creative process, but you see the end result and that can be informative. It can show you an example of what is possible and give you something to strive for. It can provide inspiration for your own work.

So all of this is a long-winded way of saying I really enjoy reading good books. And I enjoy books of all sorts in many different genres. If I read too many books of one type I find myself craving something completely different. I’ve recently read several fantasy and more contemporary novels, so I’ve been craving a good science fiction novel. I found that in the form of Linda Nagata’s The Red: First Light. It is the first book of a trilogy, and having finished it I’m looking forward to seeing how the story progresses through the next two.

Trying not to give too much away, the story is told using first person point of view from the perspective of Lieutenant Shelley, commander of a Linked Combat Squad (LCS). It takes place in a perhaps not too distant future displaying a combination of technologies just coming into their own now, and those not yet developed. LCS gives you an idea of the sorts of technologies present, ones that allow a more cohesive team, improving communications and status updates. The first person perspective is perfect for conveying Shelley’s point of view. We see what he sees and more directly experience the technology he uses and the situations he’s put through. This perspective is even more appropriate for reasons you’ll quickly learn when you read the book, as we’re not the only ones seeing what he sees.

The title of the novel is The Red, and early on we’re presented with imagery that keeps the title in mind. The LCS uses equipment they wear to tap into the infrared feed of the angel, a semiautonomous drone used by the LCS to get a better view of the terrain. The houses in the African villages they pass through are made of red mud bricks. During an engagement an enemy is hit multiple times and “drops in a spray of brilliant red blood.” A local from one of the villages wears rust-red-and-gray camo pants. A piece of diagnostic technology “blazes with red light.” When Shelley drops to the ground to avoid being seen by the enemy he notices the slick red dirt, wet from recent rain. The use of red imagery is beautifully done. Red occurs often in the beginning, but not so often it distracts. It’s just often enough to remind us red will play an important role in the story. It reminded me of the use of green in the movie, The Matrix. If you aren’t paying attention you might never notice until someone mentions it to you. If not for the book’s title I may not have noticed. The use of red built tension. I wanted to know what The Red was and how it related to the story. We do eventually learn this, but I’ll leave that for you discover when you read the book. It’s worth the read.

This was only a short taste of The Red. I don’t want to reveal too much and risk taking away from the enjoyment of experiencing the events as they unfold, of learning what the Red is and how it will affect Shelley and the other characters in the story. As short as this description was I hope it was enough to entice you to pick up a copy and give it a try. I was lucky enough to win my signed copy of The Red (thanks, Linda!) through a giveaway at SF Signal (as mentioned above, unfortunately this site is no longer active). This was my first exposure to Linda Nagata’s work, though I had heard of her through positive reviews of The Bohr Maker years ago. It’s a book that’s been on my far too long and always growing to-be-read list. I’ve now purchased a copy of that as well as the other three books in The Nanotech Succession (Tech-Heaven, Deception Well, and Vast), and the next two books in the The Red series: The Trials and Going Dark. If you’d like to learn more about Linda Nagata check out her website at

UPDATE: I’ve finished reading the The Trials and Going Dark, the last two books in The Red Trilogy, and I very much enjoyed them both. The story definitely takes a different turn in each novel, further exploring some of the issues first presented in The Red: First Light. I look forward to the next book I read by Linda Nagata, though which that will be I don’t yet know.