I recently got a Zeiss Batis 85mm f1.8 E-mount lens for my Sony A7rIII. For the past few weeks, it’s been the main lens that I’ve been using while going out to take pictures and I have been really enjoying it so far. My first impression was that it was kind of short and stubby, but overall a great weight for an f1.8 lens and a lens I see carrying around for years to come.
If you’ve been following my work for a little while now, you’ll know that my usual go-to lens is a 70-200mm because I love the compression that I get with it. For being a prime lens, I am most impressed by the compression that I get with the 85mm.
So here are a few sample images I’ve captured using the 85mm. All of these images were taken with my Sony A7rIII in RAW and then edited using Lightroom.
Flashback to January 2021 in Washington DC. At the time, I had no idea things would change so much around the city. The new year started off quiet but there was a buzz around the city with the upcoming inauguration. What was it going to be like with COVID? We had already watched the Inauguration flags and setup starting months prior, were people going to be allowed to attend? How would they regulate the crowd?
However, on January 6th protestors stormed the US Capitol in an event as we had never seen before. My eyes were glued to the television screen and my jaw on the floor as to how this could all have happened. It left a feeling of uncertainty, disbelief, and overall tension in the city. I was planning on going downtown later that evening to work on a photo project, but with the storming of the Capitol, that would not have been possible. So I made the plan to head down first thing the next morning. After I was done taking pictures for the project, I could not help but to drive around the US Capitol to see what it looked like.
I’ve spent hundreds of hours at this location photographing the sunrise, sunset, lighting strikes, past inaugurations, attended photo walks, and created some great memories on the grounds. I just could not believe how different it looked after one day. As I was driving around, I remember seeing trucks transporting the fencing to the US Capitol. This was going to be the last time I see the US Capitol so open and without fencing in a long time.
Monday, January 18th I found myself taking a little walk around in the same place. Just two days before the Presidential Inauguration, this was definitely not the US Capitol I was used to. I remember parking my car and sitting there for a while, very hesitant to get out. I was scared to see what it looked like and to feel the energy.
Helicopters flying by almost every minute
Thousands of National Guards
The fencing was up and National Guard was everywhere. It blocked off so many streets that I was looking at maps to see exactly where was I was relative to the Capitol Building. It was the eeriest feeling I’ve ever had taking pictures around Washington DC.
Spring is my favorite time to be in Washington DC. Birds are chirping, flowers are blooming and everyone seems to have a smile on their face. What’s not to love? It’s a special time to be in the city where tourists and locals alike flock to the famous cherry blossoms to admire their beauty.
2021 Update: National Park Service is predicting a peak bloom on April 2-5,2021. Meaning about 70% of the blossoms around the Tidal Basin will be in bloom <3 However, this year may be different. With COVID-19 still a concern in the Capital Region, the National Mall and Memorial Parks are encouraging people to watch them from the webcam and decided they would offer very limited in-person viewing.
But just in case we are allowed to visit this year, let me try to break it down for you…
The Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge started construction in the Summer of 2017. Every time I visited the Navy Yard or even the Tidal Basin, I was eagerly waiting for the completion of the bridge. From afar, it looked really cool with the arches and I loved how there was going to be a pedestrian walkway to allow people to walk or bike from DC to Prince George’s County, Maryland. You know me, if there’s a new vantage point in the city, I’m excited to go check it out.
So in December, my friend Makeeya, asked If I wanted to meet up for an early morning walk around the Navy Yard and then eventually walk across the bridge. I had no idea that the bridge was even open for pedestrians so I was all for it.
Walking across the bridge was beautiful. I loved seeing the arches
Once I got close and I was really fascinated by the reflections I saw in the barriers between traffic and the pedestrian walkway.
Approaching the bridge from the Navy Yard
Reflection seen from the banisters
It’s very evident that there is still construction going on on the bridge. There are cranes and construction vehicles surrounding the bridge but open traffic.
Once we got off the bridge, we ended up walking along the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail in Price George’s County, MD. I feel like views from this trail will be beautiful in the spring or fall of the Navy Yard.
View of the US Capitol from the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail
And to complete the circle, we went onto the 11st Street Bridge to go back to where we had originally started our photo walk. It was a great time to be out and see the city transform before our eyes. I can’t wait until Fall 2021 when the bridge is supposed to be complete and I can photograph it without all the cranes or construction around it!
It finally happened! We finally got some decent snow in the Washington DC area. I originally thought we were going to get pounded by 8-12″ of snow and I was jumping up and down from excitement. But in the end we may have gotten about 3″ if that. I’m just happy it was enough to cover the grass. I hope there will be more opportunities later on in the month for snow, but until then, I’m happy with what we got.
I don’t think he wanted his picture taken so as soon as he saw me lift my camera to my eye, he made a sharp turn for inside the Lincoln Memorial
The snow started in the middle of the night so I set my alarm clock to wake up for sunrise. I knew there wasn’t actually going to be a sunrise, but I just wanted to get out as early as I could because I love the look of fresh, untouched snow. I knew if I waited later in the day, there would be more people out and I just wanted to have a quiet morning to myself and my camera.
I started at the Lincoln Memorial, walked along the side of the reflecting pool, past the WWII memorial, and then back down the other side of the reflection pool with one last stop at the Korean War Memorial.
The path leading to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
In November 2020, I was out trying to photograph the full moon and unfortunately, clouds had a different idea. The moon was completely covered and I was just standing in the cold with my camera and 70-200mm on a tripod. I could have gone the next night when the sky would have been clear but I just was feeling so discouraged that I didn’t want to. This had been my 3rd month in a row where I wasn’t able to capture the moon. So I wanted to do something that would keep me motivated to go out and shoot.
Right then and there I came up with an idea that I should rent the biggest lens I can find. LOL.
So after discussing this idea with a few friends, I finally decided that I’d rent a 200-600mm lens. This would bring a whole new view to the city that I couldn’t even imagine. I rented it from lensrentals.com and I could not have been more excited that it actually came 3 days earlier than I had expected. So I had 10 days with the lens and I was pumped!
Images my friend, Albert captured me with the 200-600mm
My first real test came on an afternoon at the Washington Monument. It is actually the same exact place where I came up with the idea to rent the lens so it’s funny that this was the first place that I want to go to test it out.
I was blown away!
600mm ISO 250 F6.3 1/2500 on a tripod
324mm ISO 250 F6.3 1/2500 on a tripod
The compression on the lens is CRAZY. These people were at least 20 feet away from me. The US Capitol is about a mile away from the Washington Monument. But if you asked me, it seriously looks like you could just reach out and touch the people.