GETTING THERE is half the fun of visiting the Washington Center for Photography. Tucked away in a loft in the alleyway behind the Phillips Collection and the Cosmos Club, the gallery is one of the better-hidden delights of the Dupont Circle area.
The nonprofit WCP was organized several years ago to give support and exposure to Washington's fine-art photographers. Judging from the current show of works by three member artists, the project is proceeding nicely.
Michael Berns presents a portfolio of subway vignettes that rush-hour riders may not quickly recognize as scenes from our own Metro system. Burns breaks out his candid camera in the late-evening hours, when the cars become a half-empty peoplescape of weary workers, bleary revelers and the huddled homeless.
"The Metro is a constantly changing experience which redefines itself from moment to moment," Berns says. The subterrain he shows us is not exactly inviting, but it's heartening to note that while our Metro may be dreary, at least it lacks the shabbiness and menace of the Big Apple's underground.
Janos Somogyi and Maria Somogyi are married to each other but practice photographic disciplines that are about as different as the medium permits.
Janos Somogyi's high-contrast images of trees -- parts of trees, actually -- become abstract-expressionist symbols, embellished with patches of gold leaf. The forms are engaging and the ultimate effect is Oriental.
Maria Somogyi's silver-print collages celebrate the marshscapes and seascapes of the Eastern Shore. Most of them combine a long-focus scene with a close-up of a single element such as a netted bluefish or a patch of sea wrack, along with swatches of sand and tiny seashells. In less skillful hands they would be vacation-house wallhangers, but Somogyi succeeds in subtly evoking the dimensions and textures of her subjects, along with the tang of salt air.
NEW WORKS: Photographs by Michael Berns, Janos Somogyi and Maria Somogyi -- Through Feb. 2 at the Washington Center for Photography, 9 Hillyer Ct. NW. 202/234-5517. Open noon to 5 Wednesday through Saturday. There is no wheelchair access to this second-floor gallery.