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As you’re reading this, I’m traveling from San Francisco to Palo Alto today to hang out with my cousins. I’m really looking forward to seeing them and catching up. It is also the beginning of family time for the rest of this trip.

I spent the weekend to myself in San Francisco. I’m glad to have met up with photo friends along the way but for the most part I found myself wondering the city with just my camera. I’ve always heard that you should travel alone. It’s a great way to “discover” who you really are. But to be honest, I feel like I already have a good sense of who I am. It came to me when I was in college and really expanded from there. I’ve always been a really decisive person where I know I like or don’t like something after trying it for the first time. But  to be honest there has been something that I’ve been keeping in the back of my mind since the Focus on the Story International Photo Festival.

The first talk that I listened to at the festival was by Maggie Steber and I’m not sure if I’ve ever felt more inspired in my life. Among the things that she had talked about was having a personal photo project. Sure, me taking pictures of cherry blossoms and the Washington Monument are all things that I love to do but what is that one thing that really resonates with me? What is that one thing that I feel so much that is just dying to come out? I knew what this personal project had to be ever since Maggie’s talk but I think I’ve just been too scared to start.

I’m writing this blog post in advance but I’m also writing it as a reminder to myself. Angela- just start. It doesn’t have to be perfect right now. Just start by writing down your ideas. While you’re away from everything familiar to you, jump out of your comfort zone.

My camera settings for this image is F8.0 at 1/8th of a second at ISO 640 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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One of my most asked questions I receive is “where is your favorite place to shoot in DC?” My answer is almost always, the Lincoln Memorial. I just say the memorial because it’s such a great starting point. Not only do you have the reflecting pool right in front, but to either side you have the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Korean War Memorial. So when you’re not feeling inspired by one, it’s so easy to go to the next. I love how easy and convient the Lincoln Memorial is. It is also a great place to photograph sunrise, mid-day or sunset. You really can’t go wrong!

But my absolute favorite time to photograph the memorial is definietly early morning. Not necessarily sunrise like you may think. I love when the sun has come up over the horizon for a little bit and it’s shining on the president himself. The glow, the shadows, omg everything is so perfect. There really is nothing better.

So if you’re interested in learning more about photographing Washington DC, all my tips and tricks, check my recently published book, Snap DC. All the knowledge and experience I’ve built up over the years, all in one easy to read book.

But if that’s not good enough, I have one last reminder about next Wednesday, July 18th. Geoff Livingston, Focus on the Story International Photo Festival and I will be hosting an evening workshop. We’ll be photographing the sunset at the Reflecting Pool and then practicing some street photography and monument photography at night. It will be a great time! Click here for more info.

Have a great weekend everyone! And a lucky Friday the 13th!

My camera settings for this image is F10 at 1/15th of a second ISO 250 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

 

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#TBT to last week on the National Mall and how I snuck my way to the best spot to capture the Washington DC firework show

To be honest, I’ve didn’t envision this. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen a fireworks image like this at the National Mall but it’s one of my favorites that I’ve ever taken. Luckily, I was so close to the reflecting pool that I was able to get this view point. It also helped that I was shooting with my 70-200mm and that this was taken at the very beginning of the show so there was no smoke or anything else to cloud the view of the Washington Monument. Just a very clean sky and an amazingly still day. It was kind of crazy though because I was so close to the reflecting pool that pieces of the firework shrapnel was falling on me. I didn’t even bother looking down to clean myself off because I was so focused on capturing light that there was no time.

This was my first time shooting the fireworks from here. So within that 30 minute window I had time to try different angles. Meaning I was standing up and sitting down throughout the entire show. I found out that sitting down was probably my best bet. I got some cool images of just the tip of the Monument but I think the advantage of being so close to the reflecting pool is the reflection. In the beginning I thought the fencing would get in the way, but I actually kind of like it now. It adds an extra element of line and reflection that isn’t usually seen unless it’s the 4th.

My camera settings for this image is 5.6 at 1/10th of a second ISO 160 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm lens.

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I found the biggest difference between photographing the US Capitol and the other memorials like Lincoln Memorial or Jefferson Memorial during lightning was the fact that there was no real place to hide from the rain. At least when you visit the Lincoln Memorial and Jefferson Memorial, you are able to hide under a bit of shelter and still be able to create images. At the US Capitol there is nothing like that so you’re basically out in the open, hoping your camera gear doesn’t get soaked.

That was the case for this image. I actually had a huge rain droplet in the middle of my lens and didn’t even notice until a couple of frames after this image. Its ok though because I cropped the image to the most interesting part of the image anyways. I’m just glad I caught it when I did. Every time the lighting would strike, it turned the skies crazy purple. I love how the relationship between the lightning and the US Capitol dome. The lighting bolt is twisting and turning in all kinds of ways when the US Capitol is so straight and architectural. I think my favorite part of the image is the fact that the lights are still on in the dome. It some how gives it even more life.

I’m really looking forward to photographing more lightning this summer, especially since sunrise is so early now, I’ve noticed that I’ve been shooting a lot more sunsets and night images than sunrises. LOL. I woke up yesterday to capture the sunrise and it was totally washed out with rain. I should have just stayed in bed…

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 1/15th of a second at ISO 400 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens on a tripod.

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So after my lightning practice last week at the Jefferson Memorial aiming at the Washington Monument, I had another opportunity to shoot lightning the very next day. This time I was at the Artechouse, which you should definietly go visit. Their latest exhibit is probably my favorite so far. It’s a celebration of lights that really can not be missed. Anyways, I was about to leave the exhibit when I got an alert on my phone saying that lightning struck 3 miles away from my current location. So you know what that means right? Leave asap so you can go storm chasing!

I figured that the US Capitol was the closest, cool looking building to me. Luckily it hadn’t started raining yet and I always have my tripod in my car so I parked as close as I could to the Capitol and made my way over. I had a blast! The wind was blowing and the lightning strikes were crazy big. While I was at the Jefferson Memorial, I had to wait some time between each strike maybe a 2-3 minutes but this time they were coming every 15-20 seconds. It was AWESOMEEEE. I was out there for only 30 minutes or so before the real big rain hit but I’m super happy with the way that this turned out.

Every time the lighting struck it would light up the sky to this amazing blue/purple color. It was such a beautiful show. There were even people who were leaving the Capitol that couldn’t help but to stop and take selfies. Such an exiting night to say the least. I ran back to the car as soon as the rain really started to pick up and it was all good in the neighborhood.

My camera settings for this image is F4.0 at 1/13th of a second ISO 400 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm.

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Ok, back to more cherry blossoms images 🙂

Another one of my goals this season was to capture the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial with the cherry blossoms. If I was going to be at the Tidal Basin, I wanted to try different things from what I typically do. Going back and looking at my images, I barely have any of the Jefferson Memorial and the cherry blossoms. So weird, right? Last year they were like peanut butter and jelly. This year it was like the Jefferson Memorial didn’t even show up to the party.

I also realized that I don’t have very many images of the Martin Luther King Jr memorial in general, let alone with the cherry blossoms. So anytime I was close or even from far away, I was trying out different compositions. I was determined to get something I liked.

This one was taken about 30 minute before sunrise. As you can see, another windy morning but I love the color combination of the pink flowers with the blueish looking sky. We got real lucky this year. We had almost two solid weeks of cherry blossoms, compared to last year when we didn’t even have a week. So I had time to play with compositions. I still haven’t gone through all the images yet, but this one stood out to me. I like how he still looks very powerful and determined with the cherry blossom framing him. Like nothing can distract him, not even pretty flowers. On the other hand, I’m the one who’s driving around and will break for pretty flowers growing in people’s yards and point them out to all my passengers. Ask Andrew. He’s not a fan of when I do that. LOL

My camera settings for this image is F5.6 at 0.6 seconds and ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 28-70mm lens on my gitzo tripod.