Photo: The Beast
Location: Washington, DC
Date: October 23, 2017
Camera & Lens: Canon 6D Mkii and EF 70-300 DO Lens
About This Photo: This photo is all about getting lucky. We had moved to Fort Belvoir, VA in August 2017 and, like I normally do when we move to a new area as a military family, I explore close to home first before venturing out. Why? Because there are many times sites near, that are easy to miss when you head out looking at all the popular places first. It’s a lesson learned after living in Italy where I drove by the Pozzuoli Amphitheater ruins for years on the way to and from work, never giving them a second thought. Then one day, after living there for about 10 years, I decided to check them out and they were mind blowing! This is a way to attempt not missing all that is close. In northern Virginia there was so much to see in the immediate vicinity of Fort Belvoir that it took a few months to make the short trip to Washington, DC. Less than 10 minutes from our house was George Washington’s Mount Vernon home and tomb, also his Gristmill and about 15 minutes away was the city of Alexandria which was founded in 1749, an incredible place in its own right. Yes, the Northern Virginia area is THAT cool.
I made the approximately 25 minute drive along the Potomac River on the George Washington Parkway and parked at the Washington Monument on the National Mall. Taking the camera bag from the car and walking, I paid for the parking spot on an iPhone app and began to hear sirens. Hearing emergency vehicles in a big city is not much cause for alarm unless they are nearby. While paying, the sirens got closer and louder, now there were lots of police vehicle. As someone fortunate enough to have been in a presidential motorcade once in my life, I knew someone important was coming. Here I was, standing on a sidewalk by myself, no crowds, nor nobody near… In just a few seconds, I opened my camera bag, took out my camera and turned on the power, switched to shutter priority, then switched the drive to the continuous shooting mode, hoping a bunch of rapid fire shots might land one keeper. As I pulled the camera to my eye, I saw it was a presidential limo of some sort but not 100%, I squeezed the shutter and held it down. In less time than it took to set up the camera, they had passed. It was the presidential limousine with its Washington DC license plate of 800-002, also called “The Beast.” As you can see in the above photo, the Secret Service agent in the front passenger seat is looking directly at me, probably because I was standing alone pointing my camera at the presidential motorcade. A slight silhouette of the president can be seen above and to the right of the presidential seal on the door.
Out of all the shots taken in those few of seconds, there was just one keeper, the shot at the top of this post. However, there were also plenty of blurry shots as well, those are below. Returning many times monthly and sometimes weekly, I never again saw the motorcade seen on this first visit. Getting the shot was pure luck as there was no way to foresee the motorcade coming, nor my proximity to it. Also, anything such as a dead battery or memory card malfunction, cluttered camera bag with too much stuff to dig around, or even being unfamiliar with my own bag, could have all prevented this shot. The lesson learned, if I had not kept my gear in good working order or not immediately switched to the continuous shooting mode, this shot would never have happened. Those were in my control, my coincidental location to a presidential motorcade was out of my hands. Most of all, this was a lucky day!