Washington DC

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Taken around this time last year, I remember exactly when I captured it. This was taken after the first day we had come back from San Diego. While we were gone, the Washington DC area had gone through this insane cold snap. I remember getting texts from my friends all saying that they were going to come to San Diego because it was like 15 degrees below freezing or something crazy like that. While we were in San Diego, it was colder than usual but nothing like it was on the east coast. It was so cold that the Reflecting Pool had frozen over. It was so frozen that I saw people walking across it! I must admit I was a little jealous of the opportunity but was even more grateful to be in southern California. So feeling the fomo, I went down to the reflecting pool as soon as I could. I was glad to see that it was still frozen over because it made for a cool photo opportunity but the cracks in the ice did not give me the confidence to actually walk on it.

In order to capture this image, my camera was practically on the ice so I could get as much of it in the frame as possible. I remember really wanting to concentrate on those little ice chunks on top of the ice. It was so interesting to me.

So I thought this was a pretty cool throwback considering it was such a memorable event at our return from San Diego. As you’re reading this now, we have safely landed back home from another amazing trip to SoCal. Can’t wait to share more about it soon 🙂

My camera settings for this image is F9 at 1.3 sec and ISO 250 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens handheld.

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Even in the middle of January, I’m already starting to get questions about cherry blossoms season in spring. Actually, I started receiving them in December! Props to all of you early planners out there who want to make sure they capture my favorite time in Washington DC. Seriously, cherry blossom season is the best time to be in the Capital. I don’t blame you.

Even with all my experience shooting the blossoms, it’s still very difficult to predict when they’ll actually bloom. I usually say beginning of April will be your best bet, but I’ve seen them as early as late March and as late as mid April. They don’t last too long either. From what I’ve seen a week to a week and a half tops. I remember one year we may have only had 3 good days with the flowers before they all fell off due to rain we got. They’re fragile flowers so don’t be disappointed if you planned so much to see them and you don’t. They honestly really hard to plan for.

But for those of you wondering, I created this guide. Hope this helps. I try my best to update it every year and plan on doing so this year when we’re closer to the dates. I like to update it with what NPS has forecasted as peak bloom, new changes and developments, etc.

I have also dedicated a whole chapter in Snap DC about photographing the cherry blossoms. You can never have too much cherry blossom info, am I right? So if those two resources don’t help, let me know and I’ll try my best to answer any questions you may have.

My camera settings for this image is F8 at 1/25th sec at ISO 400 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens. 

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One morning I found myself walking around the US Capitol with my 70-200mm in hand. It was right before Christmas and other than capturing the capitol Christmas tree, I wanted to get some images that weren’t just of the holidays.

So here’s a little secret, one of my favorite places to be is on the west side of the Capitol facing east at sunrise. It sounds counterintuitive but once the sun comes up a little bit, I love how it shines bright onto the building’s facade. With the beautiful architecture, columns, and everything else, the sun can create some interesting shadows and make the lines really pop.

I loved the way these columns looked from a distant angle. At first I was standing a little further back when I noticed the patterns they were creating. There was no way I was able to capture it without some blue sky so I kept walking a little bit closer and closer until I could finally fill the entire frame with it. With the warm sunlight shining bright on top and the dark shadows in the tunnels underneath, I thought it was a really interesting composition.

A few moments after I captured this image, a Capitol Police officer came out from the columns and it was an almost perfect focal point to capture. I was so excited and snapped a few images but then my camera battery died and the officer went back into the columns 🙁 I think I’ll be back sometime soon to try to recreate this and hopefully have some warm sunlight shining as well. Either way though, I really love the way it turned out. It makes me feel all warm and happy inside.

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 1/8000th sec at ISO 800 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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When people think about Washington DC, one of the first things that come to mind is the White House. But for some reason, it’s never a real go to spot for me to go capture images. There are several reasons for this regardless of who’s residing in the house.

  1. The White House is located in a spot where it’s not great at either sunrise or sunset. The only way to get a really nice sky in the background is if you are lucky with one of those days where the color takes over the whole sky. Those days are so hard to predict that it’s just easier to be closer to one of the monuments as opposed to the White House.
  2. The security around the White House keeps getting increasingly stricter. Since I first started out in photography, you could actually get pretty close to the gate and no one would say anything. Now, you have to be a least across the street. With all the tourists all cramped up in one little sidewalk, it’s so difficult to get a great shot.
  3. If you are want to take your White House shot, try to bring the biggest zoom you can. It will be the only way you can get a close up shot without a lot of people in your image. This image was taken with my 70-200mm at 93mm.

This image also happens to be an image I took just for my book, Snap DC and had never been published before. I definietly remember the day I took this because I remember I parked my car, walked all the way to the White House, and then realized I left my camera in the car. OMG how does that even happen? I swear, only me.

So if you’re interested in more Washington DC photo tips like this, check out Snap DC on Amazon. Just remember to bring your camera with you 🙂

My camera settings for this image is F6.3 at 1/200th sec and ISO 320 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm ultra zoom.

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Taken at the same time as this image, I was really excited how this one turned out. It’s just the opposite side of the wall of the previous image with the sort of the same idea of a vanishing point. I love how everything lined up with this image. Even this guy’s outfit fits the scene so well with the little details of color in his backpack. I love how it’s all in the same color family with the street signs.

I think with these two images, I just got lucky with people who were passing by at the right time that just happen to match the scene. At times I have waited 5 to 10 minutes with the composition already in my mind for people to walk by who I thought would work for the image. If someone doesn’t come by in that time frame, I usually get impatient and walk away. So going to a place with a lot of people walking around is key but also having patience is a huge factor in taking these street images. This one happened instantly. There wasn’t much waiting at all for either image and I was so happy with the way they turned out.

I captured this image around the holidays and I was telling my friend, Birch that this image would have been perfect if a Santa was ringing his bell as he was walking down this sidewalk. One day we should make that happen. LOL. Anyone have a Santa Claus outfit? If so, we really need to get together soon.

Side note: I heard a really nice Santa costume is $5,000! That’s nuts! I can’t even imagine the dry cleaning cost after the season is over.

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 1/320th of a second at ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm ultra zoom.

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A little while ago I met up with my friend, Birch to check out the christmas wreaths at Union Station for sunrise. Although this isn’t the best sunrise spot, I thought it would be interesting to see all the holiday decorations and I love just visiting Union Station. Maybe because it’s so transit, the same reasons why I love airports so much. There’s just so much hustle and bustle going on that there’s never really a dull moment. Plus I love the Christmas wreaths they hang outside the station. With so much going on, people everywhere, cars honking horns,  the wreaths and their lights always bring a smile to my face.

So after walking around the inside and outside of the station, Birch and I decided to walk along side of the building to see if we could find anything interesting going on. I’ve always loved how all the red taxis line up on the side of the train station just waiting for passengers. I knew there had to be something interesting here, I just had to wait for it. Then this lady walked passed with her red hat. It was perfect. It even goes with the H&M sign on the side of the building. I figured this in itself was festive with the lights and red colors.

But of course, no visit is complete to Union Station now that Magnolia Bakery is open. I had to stop by and get some banana pudding before we left. If you haven’t already, you gotta try it. Andrew and I used to go all the time when we’re in New York, but now that it’s in Washington, we can enjoy it whenever 🙂

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 1/125th sec and ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.