arlington va

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Like I said in my last post, I have never actually crossed the Roosevelt Island bridge. Crazy, right? I’ve always just parked in the parking lot and headed straight to the trail just to capture images of the monuments. I had no idea what I was missing out on. So if you’re like me and haven’t explored this great place, it’s this open area with what look like great pieces of art and architecture around. It doesn’t seem very big and it was a little difficult to imagine what the water features looked like while they were covered in snow but I’m sure they could be really cool to capture in warmer climate. Already getting ideas for reflection images!

But it was the sculpture of President Roosevelt that really captured my attention. He’s right in the center when you arrive at the island so I tried to find different ways to photograph it. I really liked how he was covered in the snow (almost that white on white that I was looking for) but still looked like he was waving “hello”. LOL. After circling it a little bit, I found that I really liked the look of putting him a little further back but having a blurred out foreground element to make it look a little more interesting and to give that depth. I remember trying to stoop down a little so that the curvature of the bush matched the implied curvature of his body matched. So I would say that this was a successful first trip out to Roosevelt Island!

Even with all these great snow opportunities, I still can’t enough. Here’s to hoping we get a little bit more snow this season. Fingers crossed!

My camera settings for this image is F11 at 1/160 sec at ISO 200 with my Canon 5D Mark II and 70-200mm.

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I’m pretty sure it was my lucky week last week because we ended up having 2 snow days! The second came totally unexpected to me. I think I was so concentrated on the getting news updates about the polar vortex and how cold it was going to be on Thursday that I did not even see the snow on Friday coming.

From what I saw the day of, it was only going to snow a little bit for a few hours in the morning. I think the weather people were estimating an inch or less. But it ended up snow pretty much all day. I’m so glad because I was busy in the morning which left the afternoon for me to play in the snow with my friend, Birch.

We first met up at the View of DC so we could capture the whole city in a blanket of snow. But it was snowing so much that the visibility of everything was really low. While we were up there, we decided that we wanted to get back onto ground level and see what it looked like from Roosevelt Island, in particular the bridge. There was something that bridge that Birch really wanted to capture so we went for it.

Out of all the times I’ve been to Roosevelt Island, I’ve never actually crossed that bridge. Weird, right? So glad Birch suggested going out there because I love this image of her. I love the ice in the water that formed during the polar vortex, I love how you can see the snow falling but I also love capturing Birch in her natural state. LOL. Also having that extra snowflake blur on her is very interesting to me. A happy accident that brings just a little bit more attention to her and her camera 🙂

My camera settings for this image is F11 at 1/125 sec at ISO 200 with my Canon 5D Mark II and 70-200mm zoom.

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If you asked me my favorite time of day to photograph Washington DC, it has to be sunrise. Hands down, no questions asked, absolutely the best. Yes, the early wake up time can be a little brutal especially in the long summer months but it is so worth it. I love the alignment of where the sun rises among the monuments as opposed to where it sets from. It gives off this amazing warm glow on the memorials that’s hard to get at sunset. Plus there is this overwhelming feeling of peace and calm in a city that’s usually hustling and bustling during the day. At sunrise you’re more likely to get images with no one in them while at sunset it’s nearly impossible.

Whether you’re traveling or live within the DC Metro area, I highly recommend you try to make your way down to the National Mall early in the morning at least once. I typically try to arrive at my sunrise location about 30 minutes before the sun rises. That way you will see all the great predawn colors in the sky. Dress according to the weather and grab a coffee, you won’t regret it.

For the serious photographers out there, you may be wondering about tripods. For the most part they are not allowed. However if you’re photographing sunrise and there is no one else around, you could probably get away with it. I think the biggest concern is when the memorials are crowded and other people may trip over the legs. Out of all the times I’ve been out for sunrise (trust me it’s way more than I can count), I have been asked to put it away once while I was at the Lincoln Memorial. All other times other than sunrise at any of the memorials, it’s pretty much out of the question.

The United States Capitol is slightly different. Technically, it’s not the National Mall so the same rules don’t apply as they do at the memorials. There is way more security there and I’ve heard conflicting rules about tripods. The last time I spoke to a Capitol Policeman about it, he said they are allowed. However since then I’ve heard of photographer friends being asked to put it away. It seems like there is no right or wrong answer there so I would take your tripod if you want and just be respectful when photographing the grounds.

One last thing to note, I wrote a book all about photographing Washington DC. It’s called Snap DC: Your Guide to taking Extraordinary Photos of the National Mall and Beyond… and it is available on Amazon. So if you are interested in seeing more of Washington DC than just the sunrise, click here to check it out.  As an added bonus I created a 1, 3, and 5 day sample photo itinerary for your trip to Washington DC, click here to download my ideal schedule.

Now on to that sunrise…

The Lincoln Memorial

In my opinion, this is the ultimate sunrise location in Washington DC.  It’s the most iconic and it is the place that I tell everyone they must go if they have never been to the national mall and especially at sunrise. It’s the center of 4 great landmarks all within a central area. A one stop shop if you will.

Click here to read more

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Oh snap! I can’t believe I still haven’t blogged this image yet. I’ll let you all in on a little secret. I have a folder on my computer desktop called “Haven’t blogged yet” (very creative, I know). It’s the place where I dump all the images that I’ve worked on but haven’t blogged about it yet (hence the name of the folder). Usually all these images have already been on my instagram. It’s just so much easier for me to throw things up on there but when it comes time to blogging, I am a lot more thoughtful and careful with what I’m saying. So I need to keep a folder to make sure all these cool images end up on the blog. When it was time to write today’s blog post, I went back into my trusty folder and found this one!

I took it the day I left for New York. It was the only day of the week that called for cloudy/slightly rainy skies. Those are words are like music to my ears because that usually means colorful sunrises/sunsets and I was right! But the best part of this morning was that the colors lasted for so long. Probably a good 20-30 minutes of amazing color. I was surprised and super grateful to have the extra time to try to come up with different compositions. So in case you were wondering, this was shot close to Netherland Carillon in Arlington, VA. Its one of the only places I know of that you can get all three of these iconic DC monuments all lined up like this. I tried my best to use my “cherry blossom skills” to frame the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and Capitol building all in one image using the trees around me. I’m pretty happy with the results. What do you think?