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Washington DC In Wide Angle, Photos During Lockdown

The streets around the National Mall in the United States capital Washington D.C. are extraordinarily quiet these days, even over sunny spring weekends with warm temperatures. Museums are closed, the Capitol Building fenced off, and the general state of the pandemic has reduced tourism in the city by 87 percent.

Large open spaces and few crowds made for good conditions to test out the Tamron 17-28mm ultra-wide angle lens. Here photos from the National Mall, in a unique state of springtime calm.

Washington DC In Wide Angle, Photos During Lockdown

The lack of tourists is easy to see for most but for locals, the conspicuous few joggers, picnics, and games of soccer along the Mall is an unusual sight for a warm Sunday.

us capitol

Remnants of the events of January 6, 2021, barriers now stand blocks away from the U.S. Capitol Building. A stark contrast to this view.

Smithsonian National Musem of the American Indian logo

Mostly gone virtual, museums that line the National Mall have become their own outdoor exhibit, like the National Museum of the American Indian.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

The National Museum of African American History and Culture, closed for 6 months and counting, has also put a number of its exhibits online while waiting to open their doors again.

washington dc streets

These streets aren’t closed but it’s hard to tell from the photo above.

washington dc food truck

What was once a wall of food trucks, only the occasional one remains with its window open and food for sale.

washington monument

Although the insides are closed, the open spaces of the National Mall around landmarks like the Washington Monument make for good socially-distance-acceptable exercise and fresh air. When Washington D.C. does reopen though be sure not to miss this Chinese restaurant with a secret menu and take a drive out to the area’s other, lesser known space museum.

How NFTs Could Change Travel

How NFTs Could Change Travel

The digital photo above sold for $69.3 million dollars. It’s called Everydays: The First 5000 Days by the artist Beeple and although the digital art was auctioned off at Christie’s, you can see I was able to easily copy and paste it above. That does not mean though I’m the owner of the NFT, a concept that may revolutionize how we travel.

What Are NFTs

NFT stands for non-fungible token, in other words something that is unique and can’t be duplicated. NFTs are in a sense akin to rare baseball cards like a 1952 Mickey Mantle that sold for 5.2 million USD. A baseball card is something tangible however, you can hold it in your hands, you buy it and it’s yours. With NFTs the digital file like the image aboven can still be copied like any other file except the NFT, like a public certificate of authenticity, belongs only to one individual.

To get more detailed: the only way to own an NFT is to buy it through a transaction that’s recorded on the blockchain. Blockchain is a way of publicly documented translations. The person who bought Beeple’s artwork above has a public record of that transaction. You can listen to a more thorough explanation of NFTs on the foXnoMad Podcast but your two main takeaways should be: NFTs establish authenticity and chain of ownership.

Wild West Of NFT Trading

Imagine your favorite musician minting songs from their new albums to sell as NFTs. Everyone can still listen to the music but only one person will own the NFT. Think of it as sort of an autograph: you can get the album anywhere but there’s only one Britney Spears signed limited edition.

listening to music

The same concept can be applied to a driver’s license or passport. Fakes are possible but when you check the authenticity of the document against the records of the government who issued them, the frauds become evident. Right now, NFTs are making headlines with high price sales of NBA video clips selling for $240,000 and the grumpy cat meme selling for $83,000.

So why would anyone want to buy one? Well, NFTs have made it possible for specific digital assets to be rare – a rarity people are so far, willing to pay for. The market for NFTs is a rapidly evolving on sure to make even more expensive headlines but aside from the art trade, it has implications for travelers.

True Digital Passports?

Given how digital everything is these days, it does seem a bit odd to carry around a paper book you get stamped when entering a new country. Of course those paper passports are authenticated through centralized computer systems but NFTs could solve that middleman process. Being one of a kind authenticated digital assets that are publicly documented could mean an eventual end to paper passports.

An NFT-based passport and visas would be much, much more difficult to forge and if you lose the device containing your NFT passport, regenerating one through a digital portal is a lot faster than today’s snail mail methods. Of course, how this will all look (an app on your phone?) isn’t clear since it’s the very early days of NFT popularity. The reach into the travel industry for NFTs though is wide from everything to plane and event tickets to yes, maybe your passport too.

iPhone 12 vs. $2700 Camera Test: Can You Tell The Difference?

Let’s take the image right below. Can you tell what type of camera it was taken on?

cute dog

The answer is it was shot on an iPhone 12. Now take that same photo, except shooting it on the Sony a7C with a Tamron 17-28 f2.8 millimeter lens.

cute dog again

The differences in image quality might be a bit more apparent now that you’ve had time to compare them side-by-side. Still, telling the $1000 iPhone 12 apart from the full frame $2700 Sony setup though isn’t as easy in every situation. The iPhone renders colors vibrantly especially in bright outdoor conditions like Utah’s mountains and in many cases, when the pictures aren’t next to each other picking them apart becomes more of a detective game.

I’ll let you test your skills watching in the video above to see how many out of 10 you can guess correctly.

No matter how you do, I think the iPhone holds up compared to the considerably larger build of a full frame mirrorless camera. Certainly the Sony outperforms in many ways but it’s also a larger device with two functions – to shoot videos and photos. Apple on the other hand has to design a device that can do both of those things well, but also be your emailingsocialmediaposting-time-sucking-device most of us are attached to.

So if you’re wondering what kind of camera you need to get started on YouTube for example or to post travel videos on TikTok, the Sony a7C would be nice, but you don’t have to look further than the phone in your pocket. While every year phone cameras get better, most modern phones are so good, the differences are very incremental. Don’t think so? See if you can tell these iPhone 12 photos apart from the 11.

Have Travel Influencers Let Us Down During The Pandemic?

Have Travel Influencers Let Us Down During The Pandemic?

There have been two big groups of travel creators during the Covid-19 pandemic: those who talk about how they can’t travel and those who have kept on traveling. The problem are the content creators who sit right in the middle of what’s said and what they’ve done. Mask-less YouTubers, Instagram models, and bloggers have carved out a niche of continuing to move while ignoring the main travel story of the past 12 months.

In case you need to be reminded: coronavirus.

I Can’t Travel…

Plenty of travel creators have been in Mexico, Portugal, Albania, or Turkey (countries that were generally open during the pandemic) lamenting online that they can’t travel. As far as I know, if you’re visiting a country you don’t live in for the purpose of I feel like it, that’s traveling. The fact that you might not be able to eat indoors at a restaurant or go out on weekends doesn’t mean you’re not currently traveling.

fruit breakfast

Photos on Instagram tell another story of cafe life, aerial yoga classes, and lots of group selfies in some place that also happens to have a high number of Covid related hospitalizations and deaths. It should all be called out for what it is: disregard for the people and places who’ve taken the pandemic seriously.

A Shame

Very few creators want to talk about travel shaming and pointing fingers so let’s not call out any specific people. The travel industry and online community is especially vanilla, avoiding any strong opinions so as to appeal to the masses (and the potential money they might bring).

And the pandemic has become a political issue.

Consequently travel influencers are generally (or at least publicly) liberal leaning. On the topic of the pandemic though, for many, their movement to places where they can get away from the rules tells another story. Not that they’re conservative but that Covid is getting in the way, so let’s go around it.

Unfortunately science doesn’t work that way.

Not That Big A Deal

Away from the public however a lot of travel creators will tell you that coronavirus isn’t that big of a deal. Many will also not tell you they’ve had coronavirus and picked it up most likely at a large social gathering. Just check their Instagram. How many other people, including locals, they’ve infected? You won’t see that on TikTok.

None of this is to say any of us are perfect or that this is every travel blogger-vlogger-creator out there. Only that not many are talking about the disconnect between the posts and the reality. To me, that’s the real travel story of the past 12 months. Being upfront about it is a bit less glamorous but a lot more useful to the people following. So live as you want, just tell it like it is.

Trust me, it’ll be authentic.

Travel Is More Than Just Movement

Since the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic the tourism industry has lost at least a trillion (with a “T”rillion) dollars and cost 100 million jobs worldwide. Despite this very tangible economic impact, the notion that traveling is purely indulgent leisure time that’s a luxury, not a necessity, remains persistent. While there are negative sides to how we travel and how many of us travel at once, the benefits of the act have effects that aren’t as easy to measure.

Having traveled for over 10 years now to over 90 countries (and the journey continues) this is why we travel and why it’s important.

What’s The Best Country In The World? The India vs. Pakistan Debate

Nuance is often the antidote to controversy and the relationship between India and Pakistan is loaded with both. Recent comments suggesting a particular bias in my travel videos about both countries lead me to answer the question: which do I like more, Pakistan or India?

Well, that’s a deeper question about travel comparisons in general I talk about in the video here. It’s an answer, it turns out, a lot of us tend to get wrong for very reasonable reasons when we visit a place. Just like we’re moving though space, we can’t ignore time and happenstance either so our perceptions can be very narrow in a big world. After watching the video above, you might just be rethinking some of your favorite and least favorite destinations.

About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More

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