Stills in the States: An Alien in the Americas


Super Moderator Emeritus
Down Under
Real Name
Caveat: The intent of the following is neither to be irreverent or insulting to the United States or its people. It is merely a portfolio and diary cast from an alien's perspective.

This United States of America is a land of such contrasts.


Contrasts by stillshunter, on Flickr

This couldn't be more obvious after wandering the streets of its capital. Early on I spied a large house in the distance. It must have been important as it was well fortified with big fences, large cars and burly men toting very hefty guns.


A white house by stillshunter, on Flickr

Upon closer inspection, it certainly was an impressive and important house.....complete with men holding sentry on its roof.


Fiddler on the roof by stillshunter, on Flickr

Odd that such a prominent structure had such an understated name. This white house was referred to, by those thronging around it, as "the white house". Hmmm... I picked up from a couple nearby that this was the home of the ruler, and the "first ever black president". With my interest piqued I went in search of this one important man. The first I stumbled on, was surely not him, as he was sleeping away from home.


Study the past by stillshunter, on Flickr

The next was a black man who spoke with great passion, but less poetically than I would have expected for the leader of such a large and great nation. So this, surely, wasn't him.


Propheteering by stillshunter, on Flickr

I put the search to the back of my mind and continued on foot. I came upon another impressive large house.


Lincoln Memorial by stillshunter, on Flickr

This one had far more people coming and going, so the person living there must have been pretty important. Coming up the steps I noticed that those leaving, did so with a sense of reverence - some so moved that their energies were truly spent.


The Lincoln Effect? by stillshunter, on Flickr

Having traversed the steps I met the building's occupant. An inspiring looking man of immense stature; who simply sat in watchful and thoughtful gaze.


The Seated Man by stillshunter, on Flickr

Although he remained unmoved, it was this very stillness that seemed to inspire others. One could find many other equally venerable people sitting just as I found this Mr Lincoln just down his steps.


Lincoln's Veteran by stillshunter, on Flickr

The environment seemed to be as much of a contrast as the people that moved freely within it. However, one couldn't help but notice that the surrounds seemed far less random. A little more searching found the nexus point responsible for this city's precision planning.


USUPA by stillshunter, on Flickr

Curious there was not a hint of green to be seen at this "environmental custodians" headquarters. Obviously they had their slice of the Earth well under control and its organic movements orchestrated to the minutest detail.

From cradle...


Tree Here by stillshunter, on Flickr grave


Garden of the dead by stillshunter, on Flickr

This United States of America is a land of such contrasts.


Land of Contrasts by stillshunter, on Flickr


betwixt and between
Real Name
Very thoughtful and thought provoking, Mark. I'm going to spend more time looking at each photograph more deeply on your Flickr pages, however I'll say right here that I think your view and the presentation of the images and your words work beautifully together - powerful, insightful, not without humor, and yet quite sobering. I haven't been down to DC quite a few years. Many thanks for these. I think your photo essays are excellent.


Super Moderator Emeritus
Down Under
Real Name
Thanks all for the feedback and encouragement. For those in the US, I'm glad that you read the essay as intended - purely as an outsider's account of a day's wander through DC. It really is an amazing place, and its sheer scale is breathtaking. Obviously this was only a very very small portion of the total photos taken over my entire trip - but I didn't want to subject you all to a slide night at grandpa's :wink:

Having said that, they're are a few more images left to process and share....audience willing.

My intention with the use of the term 'contrast' was in both the senses you outlined. Indeed an outsider cannot help but be struck with the striking differences in the US. I wouldn't say things were "contradictory" - as this would imply they were intentionally opposed or deliberately inconsistent. Instead, I'd use the dictionary definition i.e., "The state of being strikingly different from something else, typically something in juxtaposition or close association." The more I deconstruct it, the more I believe this is indicative, or an expression, of the level of freedom of choice and individualism in the US, whereby you often find the spectrum of a single theme manifest so close together - in my case (or sheer luck) the confines of a frame. And, yes, I "tried" to use the stark difference in light and tone to convey the differences that I perceived. Mate I hope that makes some sense? :blush:

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