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Going through some of my older images, I found this one. Man it’s been a long time since I’ve been to the United States Air Force Memorial. I think the last time I was there was almost 2 years ago when my friend, Navin and I were out capturing some lightning images. In my opinion it’s one of the harder monuments in the Washington DC area to photograph. I think I find it is so hard to capture because there isn’t a lot of space surrounding it. It’s hard to maneuver  your camera and tripod around in order to get the entire monument in one frame. The only way to capture was to I walk outside of the memorial grounds and stand on the sidewalk at Columbia Pike to get it all in one image. Obviously you can photograph it while in the grounds but it’s very difficult without cutting anything off.

My favorite part of the image is the light that’s hitting the bare trees. I think it looks really cool and interesting, especially the one on the right. I think it looks like it is made out of metal or something, right? Don’t get me wrong though. I still think that the United States Air Force Memorial is one of the coolest places to go to photograph a big sky. I love the hill the sits right outside of it. It’s a great place to sit with your camera and see interesting views of the Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument and the US Capitol. The best time of day to shoot this memorial is probably sunset.

My camera settings for this image is F5.0 at 2.5 seconds and ISO 500 with my Canon 5D Mark II and 24-105mm. LOL that’s how you know this is an older image. I shot it with my Canon. Ahhh memories.

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Happy  Independence day! Hope you all have a great 4th of July full of fun, family and fireworks 🙂

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 EVER 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 remember 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 again, 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 🙂 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.