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Happy Memorial Day!!! Going through some of my older images, I found this one. Can you guess what it’s of? It took me a while to figure out too. I even showed it to Andrew and he had no idea what it was of and he was standing right next to me while I was taking the picture. But to be fair, I took it in 2011 so it’s been a while. At first I thought the flags were hung together by string or that it might of been kites or something like that but it’s not… they are….

Skydivers!!!

How fun is that? I completely forgot about this but I thought it was very appropriate for Memorial Day.

Thank you so much for all those who have served our country. You have made it a better and safer place for all of us to live today. And a special thank you to all those families who have lost loved ones for our country. I will be thinking of you today.

On another note, Andrew and I have arrived safely in Colorado and had a great time exploring Denver. Today we’re taking the drive down to Moab, Utah. This is the part of the trip that I’m looking forward to the most. Just driving around and making stops along the way to see more of our beautiful country. I’ve never been to Colorado or this part of Utah so if you want to see some behind the scenes stuff of our trip, check out my instagram story. I’ll be posting a lot on there.

This image was taken on my 5d Mark II at f10 at 1/30th of a second ISO 100. I remember it being close to sunset time so that’s why the light from the clouds aren’t too harsh. Just right to really show off the American Flags.

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What may look like a beautiful sunrise image is actually a little shocking. This was a sunrise shoot that was hard to forget. It was the morning after a huge tornado hit the DC area and usually after dramatic storms like that, we’ll get dramatic skies. So I woke up early and made my way down to the Tidal Basin. I was super excited to see this beautiful sunrise and immediately parked my car. I started off at the pedestrian bridge that’s on Ohio Drive. A good starting point for any image at the Tidal Basin and to get a better view I wanted to get closer to the water. Man, I was shocked when I tried to walk down the ramp and realized that I wouldn’t be able to get down any further. The water levels were so high that it was covering half the walkway. That meant the entire sidewalk area  further down was flooded. I think I stood there in disbelief for a minute because I had never seen anything like it. So I quickly turned around and to find an area on the grass where I could stand. I figured standing behind this bench would give me the most accurate depiction of how flooded it was to give scale. I bet if I actually stood in the water, it would of been up to my shins. Craziness! I had never seen the water rise this high before. Can’t be good for the cherry blossoms at all.

At least the ducks were happy.

So if you wanted to help the National Mall fix this flooding problem, please consider donating. It will really help with the improve and restoration of the seawall that’s obviously being damaged by the water and reconfigure the foot traffic so the cherry blossom trees won’t need replacement every year.

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My second time visiting the Oculus and it’s just was just as amazing as the first time. But this second time, I got to see way more of it. The first time I visited, everything was still under construction. Andrew and I were only able to see a little hallway from the train station to the main part. The main part was still behind closed doors and under wraps. It’s crazy because we were super impressed by that little hallway. Never had I imagined that this main part would be so awesome. But I think the best part about the whole thing is that the “main part” that I keep referring to is a mall now. How freaking amazing would it be to do your everyday shopping here. I feel like I wouldn’t even be able to get anything done. I’d just want to stand in the middle and take pictures the whole time.

I love how it’s just so white and clean. Super modern looking but it makes me wonder what it’d be like to stand there during a really nice sunset or something like that. Would you be able to see the colors come through the windows? Similar to how the Washington National Cathedral looks in the early morning light when the light peaks through and you can see the color reflections all over the walls. I think that’d be so awesome. If any New Yorkers are reading this, please try this and let me know the results. If you can see something really cool, I’d probably spend a week in the same spot just waiting for a cool sunset/sunrise.

My camera settings for this image was f/10 at 1/30th of a second ISO 100. Like I said before, all those windows on top are so great for letting in light. A really low ISO is all you need to capture a really cool shot like this.

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I was thinking about Italy the other day. Mostly because I was thinking about pizza but the weird part is that we barely had any pizza while we were there. Maybe once?  It was all pasta baby. And it was so delicious. 98% sure it’s the best food I’ve ever had. How about you? Where was the best place you’ve eaten?

I loved photographing the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo. It was so peaceful and beautiful standing up there. In case you’re thinking about going- there are a lot of stairs to climb or you can do the lazy route and get a taxi to get you there. That’s what we did. All the pasta was weighing us down. HAHA. Its worth it though. It is the best view of the entire city. It’d try my best to get there as early as you can though. A lot of people were waiting for the sun to set even an hour before it did.

It’s also a great spot for people watching. There were so many different kinds of people there. A couple of people were there painting the sunset, others were photographing it, but everyone was enjoying it. There was even a Chinese couple standing next to me. They had no idea that I could understand them but the funniest part was when he was watching me change my lens. It’s like he was giving a play-by-play to his wife. Mostly because I tried balancing my lens on the edge of a balcony. I could feel that he was nervous for me. He kept on saying “too dangerous, too dangerous” and when I was done he gave huge sigh of relief. LOL. I don’t even think Andrew was that nervous for me. It’s funny how all these memories are spurred out of thinking about pizza…

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Looks like an almighty sword glowing in the sky, doesn’t it? This is my favorite part of always watching your back. The sunset action was happening in front of me at the Lincoln Memorial but a quick glance over my shoulder to the World War II memorial and I saw this! The sun was setting just at the right angle to change the white monument into gold. You can even see a little bit of the National Museum of African American History and Culture getting a bit of the sun sparkle too 🙂 It makes me smile to see the reflection in the reflecting pool water catch some of the sun’s glow.

My camera settings for this image is f5.6 at 8 seconds ISO 200. I really wanted a long exposure to blur out the fast moving clouds but also bring out the glow colors even more. To do this, I used my neutral density Ice Filter. I think I should be sponsored by them because I’m always talking about these filters and how amazing they are. *shoutout to Ice* Shooting with neutral density filters can be a little difficult if you’ve never used it before. My biggest tip would be to set your camera on manual focus, focus on your subject, and then put on the filter. Make sure you have the composition you want because once you put the filter on, it will be very difficult to see what you’re looking at. It gets super dark. If you leave your camera on auto focus, it will just keep on trying to focus on something and won’t allow you to take the picture. So remember just to keep your camera on manual and it will be all good. The neutral density filter also helped on making the edges super dark and contrasty which also helped in making the Washington Monument really pop out.

 

 

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If I’m ever feeling frustrated or less than confident about my work, I tend to just go to my cherry blossom images and then I feel all better. Theres something about them that makes me so happy. They are also easy to shoot. They have all the built in elements of composition right there. Line, shape, form, color, frame. You just have to be creative with it. Plus it’s really hard to take a bad picture when they’re at peak bloom. Anyone can do it.

Since I’ve been shooting the cherry blossoms for 7+ years now (I know, crazy right?), every year I challenge myself to create something different. Even though they are the same trees at the same Tidal Basin, they’re always look different. My favorite from last year was playing with framing and the year before that was incorporating people into the shot. This year was definietly the surprise element of fog and creating some images with the muted tones. I also had a great time playing with puddles since weather was a huge factor during this year’s festival. So I guess the point of this story is to challenge yourself. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I take the same pictures as everyone else. I think it’s fine, but get those out of the way first. Move on from those and try to see something new. Change your perspective or walk in a different direction than everyone else. You’ll be surprised by what you see. Even if you’re used to always shooting on a tripod all the time, leave you tripod in the car this time and see what comes up. You may be happy with your results.

It’s not all shooting though. Once you’re in front of the computer, try a different way of processing or even cropping. This image was actually a horizontal image that I cropped to a vertical. I felt the composition was much strong like this but didn’t see it until I saw it on the big screen.