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I got to see Barack Obama Wednesday at the rally that was held in Leesburg, Virginia.  It was everything I had hoped it would be.  And more.

I got there on the early side and spent a good part of the time enjoying the people that came to see him.  I was taken by the wonderful variety of people who came to see him.  There were old folks and young, kids in strollers, teenagers, black, white, whatever.  It was a tapestry of Americans with a common hope.

And you know what was the most stunning thing?

Everyone was happy.  None of that hate that seems to personify the McCain campaign rallies.  What I saw was people who came to the rally excited and spent their time in line making friends, discussing the future, and getting pumped up to make the future ours.  The power of the entire event was in how everyone seemed to leave personally touched by the event - a result of the energy of the crowd, the amazing volunteers, and the strength of the candidate himself.  

(One note:  I'm making NO Apologies for posting a VERY large number of pictures here.  I loved being there.  It was the charge up I needed to carry me though election day.  It is still a relatively small fraction of the photos I shot - there are more on my flickr page!)

Happy and excited.  That is how I'd characterize the crowd.  It was quite a wait from the time I arrived until they even started to let people in the gates through the metal detectors.  

We were greeted by volunteers armed with clipboards and smiles.

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And that was a good thing, because it took a long, long, long time before they even began to let people in.

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Although some in the crowd were less excited than others.

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Some were there to sell Barack Buttonry.

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Did I tell you that the crowd was big?

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But everywhere, people were thrilled to be there and made lots of new friends.

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Security was tight.  

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And there were people of all ages, including future voters.

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I really loved this hat o'buttons:

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Some more shots from the line:

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Finally, inside the gates and in the middle of a growing crowd!

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Everyone was pretty chatty.

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The spot I got was not too, too far away from the stage.

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Good thing I brought a long lens.

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The campaign brings its own lighting and everything else it needs.

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In case you are wondering why the press gets better shots than us mere mortals.  It has to do with positioning as much as anything else.  See where the Sun is on the photographer on the right?  The stage is setup so that the setting Sun is perfect from where they are standing, unlike me who was opposite the shooting press area.  (I'm not complaining!!!)

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This is what happens when the sun hits your front filter even though I'm using a sun shade.

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I think the press is getting worn out by Barack.

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Some more of the people close to me:

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Finally the program started!  And it started with the Pledge of Allegiance.

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And then Democratic candidate for Congress, Judy Feder

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(Did I mention that many, many of the folks at the rally were from West Virginia?)

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The invocation was said by a minister from the Loudoun Bible Church.

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And the National Anthem sung (Note that some folks still seem to think you put your hand on your heart for this, but clearly that isn't what the person leading the anthem thinks).

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Next came a pair of field organizers (aka, the future of our Democratic Party in Northern Virginia) from Sterling and Leesburg to remind the crowd to text "VA" to 62222 in order to get updates on the campaign.  

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I think both of these young people have a future in politics.  They both were incredibly poised and showed true presence on the podium.  I wonder if they got any face time with the candidate.

It was clear that the press had no interest in photographing anyone but Barack.  I don't know if you can see it on the reduced image, but the lens on that left most camera has seen better days.  

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Next came the signs for people to wave if they wanted.  Around where I was standing, many just wanted them as a keepsake.  There was no prompting to hold them or take them, and signs were not allowed to be brought is from outside

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and there were fewer signs than people wanting them

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A homemade meta-sign:

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By this time the only way the children in the crowd could see anything but the backside of the adults was on shoulders

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So there was a lot of handing off of cameras to your local tall person:

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And for many the best choice was to stay very far away on a slight rise:  

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A few last minute checks of the teleprompters

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And then Reggie Love checks the checks

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And then...The next Senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia, Governor Mark Warner:

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Mark was there to introduce his successor, the hardest working man in politics, Governor Tim Kaine:

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The press corps knows it is time.

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Hey, I recognize those legs!

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Perhaps my favorite shot of the day.  This moment was amazing - can you see it in their faces?

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This is what the future of the Democratic Party looks like in Virginia.  I think it is a pretty great future.

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How about just a boatload of Barack Obama pictures.

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A stunningly handsome man watching our leader speak.

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And a few more of Barack.
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Did I mention that the campaign leaves nothing to chance?  So, yes, I was in the opposite position from where I wanted to be.  The images from that cherry picker must be amazing.

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But as the Sun got lower in the sky, the lighting from the floods helped greatly.  The next bunch are through the end of his speech.

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The rest are of the scene in the crowd afterwards and around the stage as the crowd thinned.  For many, this will be a day that will be talked about for the rest of their lives.

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That's it.  I thank any who made it the entire way through this.  Over the next several days (probably longer) I'll be post processing the images I like to make them worth printing.  I shoot in Raw and exposed basically to avoid blowing out the images as much as I could, but the result is that the images at first blush are not what they will be in the end.  Speaking of ends, this is it.

The End.

A postcript:  If you like the images, and especially if you'd like full size processed one, just let me know.  It will help me decide which ones to process first.  And if you do so, and make a donation to the campaign via my fundraising page (click on the link in my sig in my tip jar) I will make sure to email you a copy of a processed image (Warning:  These will be very large files!) that you can take to your local digital kiosk or print on your home printer.

Obligatory Rec List Update  Thank you all!  I got to post this because I managed to get myself sick from the 6 hours I spent at the rally - or maybe it was from playing with the nose-running, but hilariously funny toddler I met there.  If you like the pictures, please, get out there and do something to help the campaign.  For me, it has been about maxing out my donations and showing my support in signs, pictures, and talking to everyone I meet.  This is OUR campaign - and he will be OUR president.  All of us.  Even those we disagree with.  Peace and love.

Second Update. I VOTED Today!  I was inspired by getting onto the rec list and dragged my sick body out of the house to go vote.  The list for today (I think it was for today anyway) had me in the mid 500s on the list of early voters.  The reason I think it is not a total is that I had a wait of maybe five people and there were people waiting when I was done.  So in the 5 minutes I was there, maybe 5 people voted.  This was mid afternoon, when probably the least people would be there.  Falls Church Rocks!

Third Update.  Fixed the number to text the campaign to read 62262 for O B A M A!  Duh, I just looked at what my phone says it should be.  Thanks!

Originally posted to nsfbr on Fri Oct 24, 2008 at 09:11 AM PDT.

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