national mall

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

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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I took this right before I left for my trip to Colorado and Utah. Its of the Jefferson Memorial and a big puddle I found on the street right behind it. I distinctly remember trying to walk a different way than I usually do to the Memorial on this day but that meant weaving through a whole bunch of buses and school field trip children to get to it. I know I must of looked crazy because I got so many weird looks. Like why was I kneeling down in the middle of the road? Middle school kids can be so judgey. LOL JK not really. Whatever. I got a cool shot, right?

On a completely different note,¬†tomorrow is the start to a brand new adventure! My friend, Sue and I are about to hop in a car and drive cross county to California. Final destination, San Diego! It’s going to be B-A-N-A-N-A-S. Can’t wait. Here are our¬†stops in case you are somewhere around us or if you have any tips for things to see along the way.

Day 1: Nashville, TN
Day 2: OKC, OK
Day 3: Santa Fe, NM
Day 4: Alamogordo, NM
Day 5: Tucson, AZ
Day 6 & 7: Los Angeles, CA
Day 8,9 & 10: San Diego, CA

I’m most excited about White Sands National Monument. Every picture I’ve seen from that place is BEAUTIFUL. Same with Tucson, AZ. Seguaro National Park is definietly on the to-do list. Now that I think about it, this whole trip is going to be a brand new to me (minus the places in California).¬†Can’t freakin’ wait! A cross country road trip has been something on my vision board for a while now and I can’t believe it’s finally happening. Be sure to check out my instagram stories to follow along on the adventure but most of it will be on my youtube channel when I get back ūüėČ

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If you’re in the DC area, check out the June’s issue of the Washingtonian magazine. Its the best of Washington issue and I have two pictures in there! So freakin’ cool! The first and biggest one is the one featured above. I took it one morning at the Hirshhorn Museum when people were waiting in line for the Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors exhibit on one of the last days that it was here. They were waiting for day of passes but it’s crazy because I took this around 7a in the morning and there were already so many people there. The light was absolutely amazing and the reflection in the middle as so cool. It was hard not to take the picture. The Washingtonian contacted me and said they were doing a story¬†on lines in DC so I thought that this one would fit perfectly. I especially like all the blue and yellow tones plus the reflection in the windows are pretty awesome as well.

The second image I have in this month’s issue is of the National Gallery of Art’s new roof terrace sculpture by Katharina Fritsch’s titled “Hanh/Cock”. I originally wanted to take a picture of it for Chinese New Year since this year is the sign of the Cock. I think it’s really cool that it ended up in the Washingtonian. This sculpture itself is pretty large and in charge when you see it in person. I don’t know if you can see, but theres a slight shadow of someone in the window. That might give you a comparison of what it’s like to stand right next to it. Oh the jokes that this bird has heard.

Anyways, shout out to Washingtonian for being so awesome. Its always so exciting to see my work published in print. I grew up on the Washingtonian so I’m grateful to be able to contribute to such an awesome publication.

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Even though¬†The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the newest museum in the National Mall and Washington DC area, it’s quickly becoming one of my favorites. I’ve only been inside once but I’ve admired it from the outside numerous times. It’s so exciting to have this new space because there are so many new angles to explore. Like this one made possible by the enormous and beautiful reflecting windows that surround the museum.

Now that summer time is on us, I also think it’d be interesting to see what people do with the fireworks in this space. I was lucky enough to have special access to shoot the Independence Day fireworks on the grounds last year but it was sort of a bust. All day it had been rainy with super low clouds so it was sort of difficult to see the fireworks. And it was crazy because the fireworks¬†that were super high in the sky were only heard, not seen. So this year I think it’d be interesting to see if fireworks would be able to reflect off the windows or even some of the outdoor features surrounding the museum. Weather permitting of course.

The camera settings for this image was F7.1 at 1/30th of a second at ISO 400. I shot this at sunset while being smushed up against the windows. A high ISO was needed to be sure everything stayed sharp and in focus. It was only afterwards, in post processing, where I thought this image would look even cooler in black and white. I think it really brings out the the drama and makes the angles look even sharper.

Can’t wait to go inside the museum again to capture the ‘cleansing fountain’. The first time I was there, it wasn’t up and running.

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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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It’s been soooo long since I’ve been to Great Falls Park. If you have been following me for a while then you’ll know that I used to go to Great Falls Park a lot. Like more than I ever went to the National Mall. Which is a little crazy because everyone always assumes that I have a little bed right under Lincoln’s chair in the Lincoln Memorial.¬†When in fact, I don’t! I sleep in my bed, in my bedroom, in my house in Fairfax, VA. LOL

But I love Great Falls Park. I have so many great memories there. Its the place I used to go to all the time to practice my photography skills that I learned in school. It’s also the place where my cousin got so sick she had to throw up in one of the bathrooms but later found out that she wasn’t sick at all. She was pregnant! It’s also the place where Andrew and I had one of our first dates together and the place where we’d take Frankie and our¬†nephews to play soccer. So many great memories from this place.

I think what changed it all for me was that they started closing the gate at night. Before I felt like I could come in and out as I pleased. But there have been so many times where I tried to go at sunrise and the gates were closed. I was even there one time at sunset and was there for so long that they closed the gates on me. I had to call for someone to pick me up because there was no way to get my car out that day. So to say that this place is special to me would be an understatement. I love coming here and seeing beautiful views like this one.