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Since I’ve been out photographing the sunset and night so much, I found myself craving a morning in Washington DC. There’s something about the early mornings where it’s so quiet and peaceful, you really get to appreciate the city that you live in. Or at least, that’s how I feel.

So one morning I found myself by the US Capitol and in an effort to photograph something different, I spent a lot of time around the Library of Congress. I’ve mentioned many times before how the Library is my favorite interior in the entire city, but the exterior is beautiful all on its own. This particular composition struck me because of all the layers. I love how the staircases divide the image but I also love the little splashes of green. Everything is just lined up so nicely in this image. The best part is that the city is such a healthy city, that it doesn’t take a long time to wait for a runner to run by your shot 🙂

PS I love how if you peek through the windows on top of this image, you can kinda see what it looks like on the inside. LOL Can you tell I was proud of myself when I captured this? HAHA

My camera settings for this image is F6.3 at 1/200th sec and ISO 1000 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm.

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So this is what it looks like when you have a severe thunderstorm warning around sunset. I always think that this is the best time to take storm related pictures. The clouds are so dramatic but you never know what it’s going to exactly look like until you get out there. Sometimes the sun may peek through the clouds and create so interesting lights and shadows. Other times it is just plain drama. Either way, I love it.

This image was captured about 30 minutes before this one and I really like this point of view because you can see it all. The United States Capitol building, the dramatic clouds, and even the downpour of rain. Luckily, we didn’t get wet at all. Just in case though, we were standing on the grassy part of the Capitol grounds which had shelter right behind us in case it did start downpouring. I think it makes the adventure of taking pictures more exciting but makes for a cold ride home in dripping wet clothes.

This was also right after they turned on all the lights in the Capitol. I love the way it makes it look even spookier.

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 1/1000th sec and ISO 2000 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide-angle lens.

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Confused by what sights to see on your short visit to Washington DC?

There are so many monuments, memorials, and museums. Where do you even start?

If want to know the absolute best of the best things to see in Washington DC, keep on scrolling. This guide is for you!

I’ve lived in the Washington DC area my entire life and in that time I’ve gotten to know the city very well. It has changed so much in the past few years that it may be hard to keep up with all the new and fun things to see. Sometimes I even think it’s hard to keep up with all that is going on. There have been new museums, memorials and points of interest that would be fun for a solo traveler as well as families all at the same time.

So in this guide, I will share some highlights of my favorite sights as a Washington DC native and photographer.

My 7 Favorite Must-See Sights in Washington DC:

 

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If I’m ever in the mood to practice some street photography, I love visiting Union Station to do so. The architecture is stunning and there are always so many people on the go that it’s actually pretty easy to get a lot of candid shots.

Plus a Magnolia’s Bakery just opened there and their banana pudding has been on top of my dessert list for forever. OMG.

Back to the image. This image was taken when I was about to leave the train station. I had spent some time inside and out, just wandering the area looking for cool images. I was a little hesitant to photograph this area because it’s just been done so many times, but I thought I’d just try it out to see what I could get.

In order to capture this, I stood pretty far back. Like across the street and then some. The further back I got, the more the arches and lights were getting compressed and I just loved the way that it was looking in my camera. So I pointed it up a little bit to get mostly the architecture as opposed to the people and I love the way that it turned out. It sort of reminds me of those cartoon images you see of the inside of a whale’s throat. LOL.

My camera settings for this image is F4.0 at 1/50th sec and ISO 1000 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

PS If you do go to Magnolia’s Bakery, tell them Angela sent you. It won’t mean anything but just tell ’em 😉

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Taken around the same time I captured this image, I love the way this one turned out. It also goes great as a pair because I think it portrays what it’s been like in DC lately, H-O-T. Granted it’s not as hot as it was last week but it is definitely sundress or tank top season. OMG.

This image was taken around sunrise time. I was definitely getting the orange glow from the sun but boosted up the vibrancy a little bit in lightroom to show off the color a little more. After I saved the image in my “haven’t blogged yet” folder, I noticed it was sort of similar to this image I captured a few weeks ago at the McKee Beshers sunflower fields.

So I guess that means I have a “style” for when I’m feeling extra warm outside. They both give off that, “please provide me with some shade” feeling. LOL

My camera settings for the Capitol image is F8 at 1/1000th sec and ISO 640 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

My camera setting for the sunflower image is F4 at 1/3200th sec and ISO 400 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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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.

 

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The Washington Monument glows orange on a winter sunset evening.

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