National Barbecue Championship

I was feeling a distinct lack of creativity this past weekend and asked some friends if they knew of anything happening in the National Capital region that would make for some good photography. My buddy from the Marine Corps, Maria, came through with the delicious suggestion that I attend the National Barbecue Challenge on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Motivated by the idea of an event that combined my two favorite activities, I ventured out into DC’s scorching streets and proceeded to eat and photograph my way toward the White House. Along the way, I met some folks who were pretty serious about barbecue, and were going to great lengths to prove to the event’s judges that their grilling skills were the best.

24mm @ 1/3200, f/2.8, ISO 100
24mm @ 1/640, f/2.8, ISO 100

The sounds and smells wafting up from literally hundreds of grills along Pennsylvania Avenue were enough to send me into a barbecue craze, and I wasn’t able to really focus on taking pictures until after I had sampled a little bit of everything.

85mm @ 1/3200, f/2, ISO 100
85mm @ 1/250, f/1.4, ISO 100
85mm @ 1/640, f/2, ISO 100
85mm @ 1/250, f/2.8, ISO 100

After eating my fill, I stopped in at the judges’ tent and spoke with this group of professional eaters about what it takes to create award winning barbecue. The consensus was that, all things considered, taste is the most important criteria. That seemed to go without saying and was also a bit subjective, so I pressed them for details about specific flavor notes that they were looking for. I discovered that most preferred a smokey, tender barbeque with a subtly sweet sauce that doesn’t overwhelm the flavor of the meat.

24mm @ 1/125, f/2.8, ISO 100
45mm @ 1/30, f/4, ISO 100
56mm @ 1/125, f/2.8, ISO 100
24mm @ 1/1250, f/2.8, ISO 100

Check out more high-res shots from the BBQ competition in my Flickr set.

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