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It’s been a while since I’ve gone out for sunrise. No particular reason except summer makes it hard to wake up so early. So for a little extra motivation, I was looking back at some sunrises in DC this past year.

I always thought that winter has the best sunrises. There’s something about that cold air that really brings out the colors in the sky. And on this particular January morning, it did not disappoint! I met up with a small group of photographers and it was great to see some people who I hadn’t seen in more than a year.

At first, it just a cold morning. I didn’t think much would happen…

So I spent my time walking around the Lincoln Memorial, trying to find something interesting to photograph if the sky wasn’t going to do anything. To be honest, I didn’t even pull my camera out of my camera bag until I was already 3/4ths around the memorial. Then I started to notice more and more people starting to gather in the front.

The sky went from a cold grey to a warm orangey-pink. I was not expecting it at all but was so happy. Since I was there with photography friends, I knew I wanted to try to find a different angle. I figured most of them would be on the perimeter of the memorial, so I went inside. It was also a good idea because it was so cold and windy, the inside of the memorial provided some great shelter.

What first started off as an attempt to get a little warmer, ended up being a really good move. I love how the light is pouring into the memorial and seeing the silhouettes of all the early morning risers. Overall, looking back at these pictures makes me so happy and reminiscent. I hope to photograph a similar sunrise in the near future.

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To say the 2021 cherry blossom season was really different is an understatement.

They came about a week earlier than expected which worked out well because crowds were a lot more manageable. There were road closures around the tidal basin, no in-person festivals celebrating the blooms, and the Jefferson Memorial is STILL under scaffolding.

Luckily, the blossoms were as beautiful as ever. I’m glad I was able to get out there when I could. I hit up my usual spots, tested out a new camera lens, and came home with some images I was really excited about.

Washington Monument

Since parking was really limited this year, Ohio Dr and the East Potomac Park parking lots were all closed, I had to get creative with the places I parked. Most of the time that meant parking on Jefferson Dr or Constitution Ave and walking past the Washington Monument to get to the Tidal Basin. I didn’t mind because I’ve always enjoyed these cherry trees as well. Although they aren’t as big as the ones by the Tidal Basin, they are beautiful trees that frame the Washington Monument.

Tidal Basin

Cherry blossoms usually last about a week, maybe 10 days if we have some really nice weather. However, if it rains or gets really windy, the petals start falling off the flowers and start turning into green leaves. I think most locals know this and by the time the first rainstorm hits, a lot of people will stop going to the tidal basin, but it’s probably my favorite time to go. Puddles are everywhere and I love it when the petals start flying off and land in the water and all over the ground.

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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.

ISO 160 f2.5 1/4000th sec 85mm

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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.

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.

Barb wire ontop of the fencing started to appear

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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.

To fully prepared, I reference this website a lot. It’s National Park Services’ Bloom watch. I think they have the most accurate up-to-date information about the peak bloom. They also break down the stages so that you know what you’re looking at in case you are overly eager and want to check out the trees asap.

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…

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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 archesFREDERICK DOUGLASS MEMORIAL BRIDGE, navy yard, waterfront, washington dc, prince george, maryland, new bridge, arches, architecture, reflection, panorama view, audi field,

Once I got close and I was really fascinated by the reflections I saw in the barriers between traffic and the pedestrian walkway.

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!