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Happy ┬áIndependence day! Hope you all have a great 4th of July full of fun, family and fireworks ­čÖé

This image was taken last year before the National Museum of African American History and Culture was opened. It was amazing! My friend, Jim (who I used to intern for at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum) and I were the only ones inside the fence taking pictures. So I’m pretty sure that means we’ll be the only two people┬áEVER with an image like this. With no one in the shot with 4th of July fireworks with the museum and Washington Monument standing side-by-side. Pretty awesome, huh? But I do remember how gloomy and cloudy the day was. The whole day called for rain and we got little pockets here and there. I┬áremember thinking that they may totally call off the fireworks since the clouds were so dark and heavy. Luckily, they went off as planned. But unfortunately┬áagain, we weren’t able to see the ones that went really high in the sky. We could only hear them. The clouds were so dark that you couldn’t even see the color in them from the firecrackers. We could only see some of the lower hanging ones. Oh well. I still think this turned out pretty amazingly. But a cool effect that happened from all that rain that I didn’t expect were the reflections in the walkways. I purposely got down lower so I could really highlight the reflectiveness of the ground.

I’ll be out taking fireworks images again this year at the National Mall. I’m really looking forward to it. Its like 20 minutes of pure excitement. So if you need any tips on how to shoot fireworks, check out this video I created 4 years ago. All the rules still apply:

Happy shooting and be safe!

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Another one from last year. For some reason, I never thought to post it. Strange, huh? This was taken while I was at the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Va. There were a lot of lightning strikes over in DC and it was the perfect place to be to capture it all without getting wet ­čÖé I never posted it because I always thought the original image looked like it was so far away. Never had I thought to crop it. But once I did, it totally changed the perspective. Here’s the original with no editing at all:

Can’t you see how that one little edit can make such a difference? I probably have at least 10 more of these kind of shots from this day that if I did some fancy cropping to it, it’d turned out the way I’d like. It’s funny how a gem like this could really be looked over immediately.

So here are my camera settings: F5.6 at 1/15th of a second at ISO 400. I’v heard of other photographers leaving their shutter open for a couple of seconds in order to capture lightning images like this. I’ve never had such luck. I think I just got real lucky because there was lightning going off every minute at least! I had plenty of opportunities to time it and make sure I captured something good and quick. The tricky part of lightning is that it’s so quick and it’s such a big burst of light.

Here are a few tips: 
– Definietly shoot on a tripod with a remote but also be very careful if your shooting with a metal tripod.
– Try to shoot with a wide angle. Lightning moves and it’s better to shoot wide and then crop in if need be
– Shooting at night time will give you the best results

If you have any other questions about shooting lightning, let me know. I think next time we get some good lightning in the DC area, I’ll make a video for you to go more in-depth.