branches

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This image was taken a week ago at the DCTography photo walk at sunset. It was one of the only images I was able to capture because I was having too much fun catching up with friends to actually take pictures. LOL.

It looks deceiving but the day was actually really nice – weatherwise. It had snowed all day the day before but the day of our walk felt like summer compared to the cold weather we had during the week prior. I think it worked out great because the icey Tidal Basin made for some really cool images plus the sunset itself was fantastic!

But this image captures one of my favorite trees at the Tidal Basin. I photograph it every year, but I don’t think I’ve ever put one of the images on the blog until now. This one tree is special. I think it got hit by a lightning bolt or something like that years ago. Please correct me if I’m wrong. But if you compared it to the other trees around the Basin, it doesn’t even look like it should still be alive because it’s so small. But every year it sprouts the beautiful cherry blossoms on it’s little branches and it makes me so happy that it’s still doing so well.

To be honest, I usually wouldn’t post something like this. My preference is to have clean, untouched snow but there was something about all the footprints that are circling this tree that makes me feel like I’m not the only one who loves it. Other people must be walking around it admiring it from every angle just like me. I also like how you can barely tell where the sidewalk ends and where the water begins just because there’s that much snow on the ground.

My camera settings for this image is F8 at 1/30th sec ISO 1000 with my Canon 5D Mark II and 70-200mm zoom.

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If you haven’t noticed, one of my all time favorite things to photograph are the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin every spring. It may get crowded and it may get over done, but I don’t know I just love them. It makes me so happy to walk around these big trees and feel like flowers are all around me. My absolute favorite is when we get a little gust of wind and you see the pedals flying off the trees. It’s literally like I’m in a winter wonderland of pretty, pink petals and I just get that warm fuzzy feeling inside.

So I started thinking, why do I like photographing these flowers so much? I think it all started from my Grandma. I call her Nai Nai. She lived with us all throughout my elementary school years. One of the clearest visions I have from that time is sitting at a desk with her and watching her paint Chinese water color paintings. I remember she’d spend hours practicing her strokes. She’d have one piece of paper and practice painting the same flower over and over again. I just loved watching it.

I’m not much of a painter but her love of flowers have rubbed off on me. If you look up from my desk, one of the first things you’ll see is one of her flower paintings (still waiting to be framed) and it makes me so happy. I think I’m subconsciously channeling my Nai Nai when I’m out taking pictures of the cherry blossoms.  Recently we were looking through my phone and I was showing her some of my photography. Every time I showed her a flower image, she’d look up at me, smile and say “PRETTY!” Other memorials and things, not so much. But if there was a flower, “PRETTY!” 😀

The settings for this image is F6.3 at 1/15th of a second at ISO 200 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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Flashback Friday to spring time in Washington DC. It is my favorite time to be in the city. The whole place just sparkles.

But to be honest, I’m not sure which one I like better, the Chinese saucer magnolias or the Japanese cherry blossoms. Both are beautiful in their own way and pop up everywhere around the city. The magnolias are just bigger and easier to see. They also fall like leaves when they’re ready and it makes for the most beautiful dusting of pink. But then there are the cherry blossoms… I’m gonna have to say that flowers in general make me so happy.

Now keeping them alive when they’re in my home… that’s a different story.

I captured this scene while exploring the Enid A Haupt Garden behind the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall. I was walking out of the Moongate Garden and felt such an overwhelming amount of flowers and branches surrounding me. I knew I had to capture it with that early morning light. At first I was trying this composition out with no one in it. It was cool, but it needed to be better. Then a bus most have let people off or a metro just arrived because all of the sudden there were quite a few people walking past. Luckily, I had my camera ready and waiting for the perfect person to enter my frame. I really enjoy the way that this turned out. I showed it to my dad once and he said it looks like it was taken in Japan rather than Washington DC. I thought that was pretty cool for him to say that.

My camera settings for this image is F7.1 at 1/1000 of a second at ISO 200 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens shot handheld.

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Most of the time when I wake up for sunrise, I have no real plans of what I’m going to photograph. Especially now with daylight savings, I’ve been waking up earlier than my alarm and can’t fall back asleep. Theres really nothing else to do that early in the morning but to get ready and go take sunrise pictures.  I just figure out where I want to park my car and let my eyes be the guide. Most of the time that results in some of the best pics.

I took this image early last week. I spent most of the morning walking around Constitution Gardens. I always find myself going back there in the fall. I love the trees and reflections you can get from the water, but this day was a little rough. The sunrise wasn’t much to look at because it was so cloudy. The trees weren’t very colorful yet so I didn’t get much from the pond. Sometimes you win some, sometimes you loose some. I don’t get upset. It just happens.

So I decided to keep walking and I ended up by the Washington Monument. Luckily, there were some beautiful yellow trees along Constitution Ave. that I didn’t notice while I was driving. It was like the branches were reaching toward me screaming, “take my picture, take my picture”. I found a couple that perfectly framed the Washington Monument and played around with the composition. I think my favorite part of the image is seeing the branches themselves. I think it’s really interesting to follow each twist and turn and see where they end up.

What about you? I’d love to know what you like about the image.

My camera settings for this image is F4.5 at 1/400th of a second at ISO 320 with my Sony A7II and 28-70mm lens.

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Last but not least, my personal favorite time to see reflections is during cherry blossom season in Washington DC.

I know it’s a little unfair since the Tidal Basin itself can be super reflective, but this was a special day. This was a super, super foggy day out where hardly anything was visible except for these amazing cherry trees. I remember capturing this around 9am. The tide was really high so the water was overflowing onto the sidewalks. Luckily, I was wearing my rain boots and was able to walk around in the puddles. This gave me a perspective that no one else was able to capture or if they did, they were not able to stay in the water for that long. If you look on the bottom right hand corner of the image, you can see a slight color variation on the cherry blossom branch in the reflection. That was the line divide of the sidewalk and the water itself. CRAZY right? Definietly the best day of cherry blossom photography ever in history of all the world.

The camera settings for this image was F6.3 at 1/40th of a second at ISO 200 with my Sony A7II and 28-70mm. I remember purposely not using my wide angle for this image because I felt like it would have added way too much to the image. Either too many trees on the left or too much white space on the right. This was captured at 28mm and it worked out perfectly.

Let me know what you thought of this week’s reflection images. Did you like the series? Should I do more of them in the future with other themes?
In case you missed the past couple of days, here’s what you missed: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Last week, I published the video from our road trip. Did you see it? I’m super happy with the way that it turned out. If you haven’t already, click here to watch.

The most surprising comments and questions that I got was in response to the waterfalls in the very beginning of the video. It was surprising to me because it seemed like not a lot of people knew about it. To be honest, I didn’t know about either until I started researching the for the cross country road trip. There was tons of information about it on tripadvisor.com. I’m so glad we stopped here. It was the perfect rest stop for lunch and to stretch out our legs a bit from the drive.

So this waterfall is calling Falling Springs. It’s 80ft tall, so it’s pretty massive. My favorite part about it is that you can walk behind the waterfall and get some cool perspectives. We didn’t do it this time because I was afraid to get wet and then have to sit in the car all the way to Nashville, TN in wet clothes. I’ll be more prepared next time I visit. Second favorite part was the area above the waterfall. As you could see in the video, the water was super blue. Almost like we were in Puerto Rico or something but super surprising since we were only in Virginia. Next time I visit, you better believe I’ll be the first person on that rope swing!

I also go a few questions about trespassing. Apparently, people aren’t allowed to go near the waterfall and you could actually get tickets for jumping the gate. I did see a sign for trespassing while we were there, but it was kinda hidden behind branches and leaves. But the funny part was that the sign was right near the entrance to the waterfall and it was wide open. We didn’t really think much of it and just went right on through. There were plenty of other people enjoying the water too, so I don’t know…

If you plan on visiting, I’m sure you’d love it. But if you get in trouble for it, you don’t know me 🙂