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If you’re looking for the best spots to watch and photograph the sun setting in Washington DC, you’ve come to the right place.

The National Mall can get crowded, overwhelming and confusing. I’m here to help you navigate the park so you can get your best shots quickly and efficiently.

I’ve lived in the area my whole life and been photographing the National Mall for over 8 years. I’ve pretty much been to every one of these places at least 20 times. So here’s my complete list of the best to watch the sunset in Washington DC:

But First, Here’s What You Need to Get Ready for Your Sunset Shoot

Because of the number of people that visit the National Mall every day, sunset is a little more difficult to navigate than sunrise. There are far more people, we’re talking busloads of people, so be prepared. That means if this is your first time in Washington DC, I’d highly suggest public transportation either by metro, Lyft or even an electric scooter! All are very convenient ways to get you around the Nation’s Capital.

Also with the number of people, I’d even say try to get to your sunset location earlier than you think you should. Who knows what kind of hang-ups you could possibly run into. If it were a cold winter day, I say you could get by with going 30 minutes early. On a beautiful summer day, I’d go as far as saying an hour before sunset would not be a bad idea.

And my number one most asked question, are tripods allowed? For the most part, yes, but you may run into some complications. If you’re in a densely crowded area like World War II Memorial or Lincoln Memorial, you will probably be asked to take it down immediately by Park Police. They can be a walking hazard and just get in the way of people. But if you’re in a more spread out area like the Washington Monument grounds or even the Tidal Basin, there is a little more elbow room so you could get away with it.

The United States Capitol is unique because it’s technically not a part of the National Mall. The last time I spoke to Capitol police they said tripods are allowed. Since then, other photographer friends have told me that the Capitol police asked them to take down their tripods. So I’m still pretty if-y if they are actually allowed. I tend to just bring my tripod to the Capitol and if I’m asked to put it away, I do so politely.

Now on to The Top 5 Sunset Locations in Washington DC:

The Washington Monument is Always a Good Idea

The Washington Monument is so iconically Washington DC and the tallest structure in the city. So because of that, there is no best time to photograph it. It can be seen from so many different vantage points around the city that the possibilities are endless. However, if you catch it at the right time, it can glow orange. It’s absolutely amazing if you see it.

In order to capture the glow, I’d recommend getting to your sunset location early and face east towards the Monument. I would suggest standing either in front of the World War II memorial or along the grassy area in front of the west side of the monument and maybe 30-40 minutes ahead of sunset will work. I think the closer you are to the monument the better the imagery. But the key is to be patient. The way that the sun reflects off of clouds and on to the monument to glow doesn’t happen every day but if you see it, it will make your travel images very unique.

Other cool places to see the Washington Monument: POV Bar at the W Hotel, Rooftop Bar at the POD hotel in Chinatown (I have a thing for rooftop bars), Netherlands Carillion in Arlington VA, or along the Tidal Basin.

 

washington monument, national mall, washington dc, george washington, obelisk, national park service, sunset, glow, red,

The Washington Monument glows orange on a winter sunset evening.

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The past week has been a little unusual for me. I haven’t been on social media as much or anything because I have been busy walking around taking pictures of row houses in Washington DC for a project. Shout out to my friends Laurie and Andy for pointing me in the right direction.

Row houses are something I don’t usually photograph so I thought it was an interesting challenge to try to come up with different compositions. I really enjoyed going to the different neighborhoods in the district and seeing the variety. I’m pretty sure I came out with at least 25 different locations when all said and done. The only difficult part was the humidity. OMG, it gets sweaty in the district in June.

If you’re interested, my favorite neighborhood was either Logan Circle or Capitol Hill. I think if I actually lived in the city, I could live in one of those neighborhoods or on the waterfront.

Of course, this image was not in either one of those neighborhoods though. LOL This was over by U street. It was one of my favorites I captured because of the pointy rooftops and repetition in architecture. I love how the telephoto lens compresses it all so they look stacked one on top of each other. What do you think? Do you think it would be cool to live in one of these row houses?

My camera settings for this image is F7.1 at 1/1250th sec and ISO 320 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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Typically when I go into the city, I like driving my car. It’s so much easier because I can come and go as I please and blast my music or podcast as loud as I want. LOL. Plus if I need to stop at the grocery store or something along the way, I can do that as I please.

I don’t find taking the metro as convenient. I’m dependent on their schedule and if there’s any kind of delay or back up, you’re pretty much stuck in the metro car for who knows how long. The only time you’ll really find me on the metro is if it’s snowing a lot or if there’s a big event in Washington DC and parking/traffic is a lot worse than usual.

So when I was planning my trip to Rolling Thunder, I knew I didn’t want to drive. The metro was going to be way more efficient. In order to get to the spot I wanted by the Lincoln Memorial, I got off at Foggy Bottom and walked down 23rd street.

It was pretty cool because along the way there were motorcycles EVERYWHERE. Along the street, on the sidewalks and even in the grass. This image was captured at the Pan American Health Organization building and it was covered by rows and rows of motorcycles. I liked this image in particular because of all the lines and shapes created by the architecture and even the little grass blades you see in the foreground, but I love the flowers in the background of the bikes. I feel like it adds just a little bit of color and femininity to the masculine chopper.

My camera settings for this image is F9 at 1/80th sec and ISO 200 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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It’s been a while since I’ve shared a proper Washington DC image. With all the fun traveling that I’ve been doing, I have backlogs of images that could last me for weeks! Super fun but I thought I’d switch it up a bit today.

This image was taken last Friday. Sunrise is early (5:55a to be exact) but for some reason it was not difficult for me to get to the United States Capitol 30 minutes prior. It has been awhile since I woke up that early, but I think I was just so excited to get and shoot that the early morning alarm did not even bother me.

The sunrise looked promising but ended up being too cloudy. So I walked around and found these awesome flower bushes. They’re actually across the lawn and a sidewalk away from the United States Capitol. Not as close as you may think but if you’ve been following the blog for a while, you’ll know that I love making foreground elements look as big as the background. So to capture this, my camera was in the bushes. I angled it up just so the flowers frame the dome and I love how it looks like they look like they’re about to engulf the building.

My camera settings for this image is F4.5 at 1/200th sec and ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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On this particular morning, I heard my alarm go off twice before realizing why it was even going off in the first place. It had been a while since I made myself get up for sunrise. Mostly because I hadn’t been feeling well and I was using my sickness as an excuse. So once I started feeling better, I felt like I needed to get back out and take some pictures. Even if it wasn’t going to be the best sunrise, I just needed to have that time to get out in some fresh air and do something creative.

The forecast had called for cloudy skies. And it definietly was cloudy. So much so I could barely tell when the sun had actually risen. But it was ok because I hopped onto a scooter and scooted over to the Jefferson Memorial to capture some images. It was nice because I was there all by myself for most of the time. So I figured I would try something different.

I was standing in the portico and looked up. I love the how the wide angle lens was able to capture both the dome and portico ceiling and how the shapes sort of mimic each other. I think the columns in the center divided up the space very nicely.

By the way,  it looks like they’re about to start some major construction or clean up at the Jefferson Memorial. If you’ve been wanting to go, I’d go soon before another scaffolded memorial pops up in the skyline. With all the construction that’s been happening around the National Mall, I’m not surprised that the Jefferson Memorial is the next one to be restored.

My camera settings for this image is F4.5 at 1/30th sec and ISO 1600 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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The other day I mentioned briefly that I was heading to Richmond, Virginia. Well that weekend was so crazy. Richmond has changed so much since I graduated college. Even VCU’s campus was barely recognizable in some parts. I had a really good time going back and looking forward to visiting more often.

This image was captured Sunday morning on our way to Belle Isle. For some reason, while I attended college in Richmond, we never made it over there. We had always intended to but I think I was just too busy partyin’ to really turn that plan into action. LOL. It was so cool though and way bigger than I thought it was going to be. We definietly did not have enough time to explore the entire island. This is the bridge you walk to get over it. From a distance, you can see that it’s a really wavy pedestrian bridge. But you’re actually suspended from a bridge meant for cars from the top. It wasn’t scary as I thought it would be. It was actual very stable and there wasn’t a lot of noise or anything like you’d expect.

Next time I go to Richmond, I definietly want to bring Frankie. I think he would really enjoy all thing to do and sniff around the James River. The city itself just seems very dog friendly 🙂 And we all know how much I love that.

My camera settings for this image is F4.0 at 1/500th sec with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.