rain

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It’s hard to say which was my favorite spot on the road trip, but White Sands National Monument is definietly up there in the rankings. A strong #1 or #2 for sure. Before leaving for the trip, it was the place I was most excited to visit and it definietly did not disappoint. The initial drive into the park was like we drove on to another planet. I had never seen anything like it. We were surrounded by white sand dunes and I could not have been happier. My favorite part are the lines that the wind creates in the sand. I thought I’d have to search long and hard to find a dune that was untouched but it’s crazy because they were everywhere! The sand was really soft like beach sand but not hot like it. We left our shoes in the car because it was just so much easier walking around barefoot.

I planned on having a little photoshoot here so I purposely packed a flowy dress for the occasion. We may or may not have changed in the welcome center’s bathroom. LOL. What I didn’t expect was a rain storm right at sunset when we arrived! It was like the most exciting photoshoot everrrrr! So the sand dunes are not huge but it can get tiring if you’re running up and down the thing several times. At one point Sue asked if I was ok because I was kneeling down with my tripod and camera breathing so heavily. The only thing I could say was “yes, I’m just so excited” and kept on shooting and shooting.

I’d highly recommend visiting if you ever find yourself in or near New Mexico. The whole park is just incredibly beautiful.

The settings for this image was f/6.3 at 1/10th of a second ISO 200.

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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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You wouldn’t be able to tell from this image, but there were tons of people out. All these school field trips, buses of tourists, and just people who wanted to see the sights at the Tidal Basin. So it was difficult for me to find my own little corner to shoot, but I did it! The secret is to figure out where all these people were coming in and exiting from. Its usually the same area, so I just walked on the opposite side of the memorial and BOOM. Clicky-click city.

This was during sunset but the weather had been calling for on and off showers all day. Music to my ears! So I went out, not really expecting much but the clouds were so dramatic that it was so easy and fun to shoot. I love how the steps of the Jefferson Memorial create a leading line to the Washington Monument. Also the tree on the right creates the perfect compliment for framing to the columns. But my absolute favorite part of the image is the distorted reflection of the Monument on the steps. So cool and interesting to look at. Who knew the marble was THAT reflective.

My camera settings on this image were f/5.6 at 10 seconds. I used my ND filter to slow down the exposure which is really showcased in the movement of the clouds. Good thing it didn’t rain for the rest of the night. I was having a ball with this sky. Also shooting at a long exposure can really blur out some of the people in the image. I think I’ll try for a slightly shorter exposure next time and experiment with the people. Kinda similar to this image I took in New York City at Grand Central Terminal a couple of weeks ago. Yea… that might be kind of interesting.

 

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You know what’s funny? As I was shooting this, I noticed I was the only one who was getting up close to the US Capitol building. There were quite a few tourists out there with me. I think a bus pulled up while I was there and so many of them were taking selfies in front of the Capitol. But no one would even get near the fountain. Weird, right? Maybe it was the Capitol police with their guns that looked so intimidating. Or maybe they were just not trying to get into my shot. Either way, I was all alone taking this picture. I’m not complaining though. It was really nice to be the only one. Who knows how many people got pictures of my back side though. HAHA.

On this evening, it looked like it was going to storm but I don’t think it actually did. The clouds were super dark. I couldn’t tell with my eyes if they were moving but once I slapped on the Ice Neutral density filter 10 stop, I could see that they were making this really cool effect. Like they were all racing out of the Capitol dome. I really liked it so I tried different angles and came out with this one. This one came out particularly awesome¬†because you can see some reflection in the water and may I add the symmetry of the building’s architecture is probably the coolest part of the image.

For some reason seeing dark and moody images of the Capitol always reminds me of President Underwood. So now that House of Cards season 5 is officially back on Netflix, I think you know what Andrew and I will be doing on our flight back home from our trip. Oh man, can’t waitttt. This season is really going to be good!

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Ya’ll know that I don’t¬†shoot a lot of portraits. I love looking at them but I’m just more of an exploration¬†person where I’d rather be out walking around and looking at stuff than to be tied down to just one subject. When I was first getting into photography, I was totally against having people in my landscapes. I just wanted the scenery to speak for itself but lately I’ve been changing my mind. Sometimes I think it’s cool to have people in your shots to show scale. Other times I think people make for some happy accidents and they really add to the image. In this particular case, I couldn’t help but capture this image. That’s my friend, Zack. While we were waiting for lightning (which never came), he made it appoint to show us the cool lighting that the Lincoln Memorial has to illuminate it at night. I’ve noticed it before, but never really ‘looked’ at it either. Then, in the middle of the rain, Zack jumped down to show us that it’s even cooler than what I thought it was. He’s crazy though. He stood there for a good 5 minutes while Dave and I shot him. My favorite part is the light coming from his jacket and the shadow casting onto the ground. You can tell it was a longer exposure by the car trails on the top passing by. By the end he was soaking wet. He’s crazy though because he could of at least put up the hood on his jacket. Of course, that wouldn’t of made for as cool of a shot as it is. He looks like a rain god. LOL

The camera settings for this image was F7.1 at 2 seconds with ISO 320. Thanks so much for standing so still while shooting this, Zack! I still think you’re crazy ūüôā

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I remember shooting this last year. I was driving home from shooting the storm at the Washington Monument and was a little disappointed with how my pictures came out. There wasn’t one that I was extremely happy with or excited to work on but the rain had cut my photoshoot short. Sometimes it happens even on the worst weather days. And then as soon as I got to my car and start driving, the rain stopped. So I started filtering all the places I could go shoot on my way home when finally I realized the US Marine Corps War Memorial was perfect!

I drove up to the memorial and NO ONE was there. It was amazing! Usually there are bus loads of people here. But the rain must of scared them all away. So taking all the liberties I could, I parked my car right in front of the memorial. Yes, right along the drive path. Whatevs- no one was there anyways. I was only going to be there for 10 minutes tops. I didn’t even close my driver side door because I was so excited by the clouds. So I started shooting, shooting, shooting. No tripod, all hand held. The storm clouds were so dramatic and amazing. I was so grateful for this little break in the rain. My favorite part is seeing that little reflection of Iwo Jima in the puddle. I had to squat down real low for this one which also helped in making the storm clouds look even bigger.

My camera settings for this image was F5.6 at 1/15th of a second at ISO 640. Shooting handheld with such dark, dramatic skies, you have to put your ISO high to avoid any kind of motion blur. I also bracketed these shots so I could later choose which one turned out the best.