spring

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Taken on the same day as this image and this image, I figured a little #tbt would be fun.

It was the second day of spring and we got our first real snow all season. All the weather-people in the area were calling for 2-4 inches and I went to bed really excited expecting to wake up to snow. I got up, looked out the window and I remember being disappointed because there was nothing. Not even a drop. To be honest, I went back to sleep. HAHA. And the second time I woke up it was snowing! I was so excited, I immediately put on 3 layers of clothing and headed straight to the Metro. Luckily, I live walking distance to the metro cuz I rather do that then deal with the cars on the road. At least that way I can listen to some music and relax on my way into the city.

I spent most of the morning walking around the US Capitol. The original intention was to go looking for cherry blossoms but there was something about the white snow on the white building that really captured my attention. If you’re familiar with the US Capitol, then you’ll know that these are the steps that lead down to the visitor center. I love how the white snow simplified everything and all that you can see are the lines from the steps, trees and the person walking down with an umbrella. A pretty interesting composition that I am so glad I was able to capture.

My camera settings for this image is F11 at 1/320th of a second at ISO 200 with my Sony A7II and 28-70mm lens. For those of you wondering, I had no issues with my camera in the snow. To be honest, I don’t even remember changing my batteries… which seems a bit odd. Especially for the A7II

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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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The original intent of Snap DC: Your Guide to Taking Extraordinary Photos of the National Mall and Beyond was to help fellow photographers capture amazing images around the National Mall. I wanted to take all the knowledge that I have and put it all in one place to help anyone who wanted to photograph my favorite city. The first thing I did was mind map all of my favorite locations and quickly realized that I had a dilemma. All of my favorite places to shoot in Washington DC were not just in the National Mall. They were located in and around the city, including this place, Great Falls National Park which is technically located in Maryland and Virginia.

I had to decide if I wanted to narrow the focus to just the National Mall or keep it real and include all the other places. So I kept it real. I love Great Falls. Its such a great getaway from the busyness of the city. Who would have imagined that this magical waterfall is just 20 miles outside of the city. This was taken from the Virginia side and if you go to the Maryland side, it’s a totally different ballpark.

So if you were interested in learning more about Great Falls National Park, The National Mall or all of my other favorite places in the DC area to shoot, then check out Snap DC! It is finally going to be released THIS SUNDAY May 20th on Amazon as a paperback and kindle version. Also don’t forget that we’re photowalk-ing it out on Saturday, May 19th with IGDC to celebrate the launch of the guide book. This weekend is going to be so awesome. I can’t waittttt!

My settings for this image is F4.0 at 1/2500th of a second at ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle handheld.

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Yesterday was a great day. The kind of day where you go out and get ice cream to celebrate – Dairy Queen vanilla soft serve and dipped in chocolate to be exact. So after Andrew and I basically inhaled our ice cream we set off to go to the Tidal Basin for a little walk around at sunset.

First of all, it was DEFINIETLY tour bus season. I don’t think I have seen so many people at the National Mall at one time. It was kind of insane. But that didn’t even matter because as soon as we parked, I noticed this amazingly bright rainbow. I walked over to the pedestrian bridge as fast as I could and saw how the rainbow was coming right out of the Jefferson Memorial. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything so perfect. Andrew ran to the bathroom while I was having the time of my life capturing the rainbow. I didn’t want to move because I was afraid the rainbow would fade away but I saw it for a good 20 minutes before it started disappearing in the clouds.

It was all good because the sunset that followed the rainbow was equally as cool. It’s been a while since we had such great weather conditions. Thank you lightning storm that passed earlier in the day. But I am so grateful for that rainbow and sunset. It made for the perfect ending to an already great day. I won’t even mention the gummy bears we got on our way back home. LOL

Have a great weekend everyone, especially to all the mamas out there. I appreciate you! Special shout out to my mom. The more I grow up, the more I see you in me. It’s especially evident when I look in the mirror. OMG.

My camera settings for this image is F9 at 1/125th of a second at ISO 200 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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One of my favorite places to go to shoot in Northern Virginia is Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. I actually learned about it through Andrew. The first time we went here was on one our first dates. I still remember thinking it was weird that he took me here because he gets bad allergies in the spring time but he knew it was a place that I’d enjoy so I really appreciated that about him. Some of my favorite cherry blossom images that I’ve ever taken were taken from here. For example this one and this one. I just love the variety of flowers that you can see here.

So when I got the opportunity to pick a workshop location for a recent one-on-one teach that I did, Meadowlark was the first place that popped in my head. It is beautiful but still quiet enough where we’d be able to walk and talk about cameras and settings without disturbing many other people. The National Mall is a good place too, but it can get pretty crowded and parking isn’t always the best situation. So a great alternative is Meadowlark.

This image was taken from across the lake facing the Korean Bell Garden. I love how the branches create a cool frame around the pagoda. If I didn’t know any better than I would have assumed this was taken somewhere in Asia.

Just in case you’re in the area, the gates will open at 6a on Saturday May, 19th when they typically open at 10a. I bet this would look really nice in the early morning light. And if you’re interested in my workshops, click here for more information. They’re one-on-one so I can cater the information based on whatever you’d like to learn. Plus you don’t have to live in the DC metro area, we could go over everything through google hangouts or skype 🙂

My camera settings for this image is F5.6 at 1/1250th of a second at ISO 200 with my Sony A7II and 28-70mm handheld.

All photos available for print and licensing >

What’s crazy is that I’m still not even close to done with all my cherry blossom images from this year! We had great bloom and I tried to go out as often as I could. You would say that I went pretty hard! Out of the two weeks, I think I only missed two sunrises. Even if it was really grey and windy, I still went out to see what I could find.

This was captured at the National Gallery of Art. The same time I took this image. But at this point the sun had already come up so there was a little more light available. If you’re not familiar with the gallery, then it may be a little difficult to see what’s really going on. The blue part is just the side of the building. The orange/warm part is the inside of a corner of the building. It goes in a little bit and it has it’s own special uplighting which is causing the warmer tones. I love how the cherry blossom branch just unifies everything in this image.  I have a couple more variations of this image that I still need to play around with but if you’ve been following my blog then you’ll know I love the contrast between warm and cool tones that this image is bringing. It would be really neat to see this as a series. So many ideas, so little time! One day.

And the cherry blossom vlog is coming! It’s been taking me a while because I finally downloaded Final Cut Pro X. I figured it was time to upgrade my video workflow as well. Thanks to my friend, Andy for the extra push! I love how creative you can get with the videos but it’s just taking me a while because I literally have to google every single thing that I want to do. It will be worth it though. Just taking time… apologies.

My camera settings for this image is F5.6 at 1/25th of a second at ISO 1250 with my Sony A7II and 28-70mm lens.