Virginia

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Last weekend was another adventure weekend. This time was at Lake Anna, Virginia. For the past 3 years, my family has rented a lake house and we would have tons of fun in the water. This past weekend was my first attempt at wake surfing and I had a blast! Mostly because I shocked myself and got up on my very first try. I know I had to have been standing for at least a minute. It was funny because I had spent so much time worrying about how I would get up that once I was up I had no idea what to do next. There is a video of it, but in true Andrew fashion, there’s a finger in the corner of the video!!! I mean, how does that even happen? I swear he must do it on purpose… Anyways I was able to go a few more times and I got better and better at it. Luckily there are no fingers in those videos.

This image is of my friend, Nando. He’s way better at wake surfing, snowboarding and all those kind of things than I am. It was fun to photograph this though. I never thought about the cool angles you could get from the back of the boat. It makes me want to go back again just so I can photograph more surf. This image was taken about 10 minutes before it started thunder storming. Man I wish that rain held off because it rained for the rest of our trip. I would have loved to fly the drone during these wake surfing sessions. I was able to get a little bit of fly time from land, but the boat would have been awesome. Next time, Lake Anna!

My camera settings for this image is F5.0 at 1/320th of a second at ISO 250 with my Sony A7II and 28-70mm lens.

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Like I said last week, the hike up old rag was strenuous. It was hot, humid and I was sweating all over the place. In total it took us about 6 hours to complete. You know you’re on top of the mountain when you have these huge rocks you have to climb. I had no idea that it would require so much upper body strength. Shout out to my cousin, Brian who I’ve been working out with 3-4 times a week. I feel like all that working out prepared me for this hike and this hike only. LOL. I had done the trail before but always needed assistance climbing up the rocks. This time I didn’t need any! I came home with a lot of bruises, but at least I didn’t need anyone’s hand to help pull me up 🙂

We were super lucky though. Right when we were done with the rock climbing part and we were about to reach the part where you just walk down the mountain, it started pouring. Like lightning, thunder, soaking wet! I can not imagine what it was like for the people who had to rock climb in all that rain because it was intense! But for us walking down it felt so good. I feel like it relieved us of the heat, all the steaminess of our sweat and humidity went away and it just felt so refreshing. Luckily, I packed a rain sleeve for my camera so all my electronics in my backpack was safe. I didn’t even think to bring one for myself. As long as my camera was ok, I’ll be ok.

We ended up walking a good 3-4 miles in non-stop rain. It wasn’t too bad but neither one of us wanted to stop for a break so it went by super quickly.

My camera settings for this image is F5.0 at 1/50th of a second at ISO 400 with my Sony A7II and 28-70mm lens.

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Speaking of a lot of images, over Memorial Day weekend my cousins, Andrew and I went on a hike in the Shenandoah Mountains. It was amazing. Andrew and I had done the Old Rag hike twice already but it’s been a couple of years. I kinda forgot what it was like.

This time it was hot and super humid. *note to self, don’t wear grey shirts when going on a hike. You’ll get very visible sweat stains and it’s not cute.*

I don’t remember it being as strenuous as it was but the views are hard to beat. I took so many pictures during the hike that it’s going to be a while before I’ll be able to get through them all. I did post a few on my instagram stories a couple of days ago and this one was one of my favorites. We were on top of the mountain when there was a place where you could either climb down these huge boulders, gently and safely ORRRRR jump like this guy did. I chose the first option but while I was waiting for everyone else to cross, I saw this guy with his running start. I was able to get into position quick enough to capture his leap. I love it because it sort of looks like he’s walking on an invisible tight rope. I checked my camera to see if I got the shot, looked up and he was gone. He must have been running to his friends or something because it was literally dust behind him. I wanted to get his email address so I could send him the whole series of jump, but oh well. Maybe next time.

In order to capture the jump, I had to put my camera on burst mode. My camera settings for this image was F5.0 at 1/800th of a second and ISO 400 with my Sony A7II and 28-70mm.

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It’s been a while since I’ve visited the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, VA. I think the last time I was there almost 2 years ago when I went with my friend, Navin to shoot lightning. I ended up with some pretty cool images like this one but I haven’t been back since. So last Monday I was checking the weather and it looked like it was going to be a pretty good sunset. I literally looked through Snap DC to see where I could go and decided on the Air Force Memorial. LOL I love that I have the resource now. I texted my friend, Birch and off we went.

As soon as I pulled up, I was shocked by how many people were there. I thought that by going to the Air Force Memorial, we would have avoided the summer crowd that’s at the National Mall. I was wrong. There was at least 2 bus loads of kids running around the memorial. It wasn’t too bad though because they all left within 10 minutes and then had another good 10 minutes in between before another bus load of kids came by. So I think that’s the secret. You have to wait for the waves of people to leave.

So while we were waiting, I thought a really close up image of the Air Force Memorial would be cool. I like the way that this one turned out. I love the symmetry and the blue sky definietly worked in my favor. It wasn’t a colorful sunset like I had expected, but I really would not have known that unless I got out there and tried so it was all worth it.

My camera settings for this image is F8 at 1/80th of a second at ISO 160 with my A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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The original intent of Snap DC: Your Guide to Taking Extraordinary Photos of the National Mall and Beyond was to help fellow photographers capture amazing images around the National Mall. I wanted to take all the knowledge that I have and put it all in one place to help anyone who wanted to photograph my favorite city. The first thing I did was mind map all of my favorite locations and quickly realized that I had a dilemma. All of my favorite places to shoot in Washington DC were not just in the National Mall. They were located in and around the city, including this place, Great Falls National Park which is technically located in Maryland and Virginia.

I had to decide if I wanted to narrow the focus to just the National Mall or keep it real and include all the other places. So I kept it real. I love Great Falls. Its such a great getaway from the busyness of the city. Who would have imagined that this magical waterfall is just 20 miles outside of the city. This was taken from the Virginia side and if you go to the Maryland side, it’s a totally different ballpark.

So if you were interested in learning more about Great Falls National Park, The National Mall or all of my other favorite places in the DC area to shoot, then check out Snap DC! It is finally going to be released THIS SUNDAY May 20th on Amazon as a paperback and kindle version. Also don’t forget that we’re photowalk-ing it out on Saturday, May 19th with IGDC to celebrate the launch of the guide book. This weekend is going to be so awesome. I can’t waittttt!

My settings for this image is F4.0 at 1/2500th of a second at ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle handheld.

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One of my favorite places to go to shoot in Northern Virginia is Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. I actually learned about it through Andrew. The first time we went here was on one our first dates. I still remember thinking it was weird that he took me here because he gets bad allergies in the spring time but he knew it was a place that I’d enjoy so I really appreciated that about him. Some of my favorite cherry blossom images that I’ve ever taken were taken from here. For example this one and this one. I just love the variety of flowers that you can see here.

So when I got the opportunity to pick a workshop location for a recent one-on-one teach that I did, Meadowlark was the first place that popped in my head. It is beautiful but still quiet enough where we’d be able to walk and talk about cameras and settings without disturbing many other people. The National Mall is a good place too, but it can get pretty crowded and parking isn’t always the best situation. So a great alternative is Meadowlark.

This image was taken from across the lake facing the Korean Bell Garden. I love how the branches create a cool frame around the pagoda. If I didn’t know any better than I would have assumed this was taken somewhere in Asia.

Just in case you’re in the area, the gates will open at 6a on Saturday May, 19th when they typically open at 10a. I bet this would look really nice in the early morning light. And if you’re interested in my workshops, click here for more information. They’re one-on-one so I can cater the information based on whatever you’d like to learn. Plus you don’t have to live in the DC metro area, we could go over everything through google hangouts or skype 🙂

My camera settings for this image is F5.6 at 1/1250th of a second at ISO 200 with my Sony A7II and 28-70mm handheld.