branches

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Every year Washington DC welcomes millions of visitors traveling to the National Mall to take in all the sights and history. Many will start coming in the springtime to catch a glimpse of the beautiful cherry blossom trees at the Tidal Basin. They are alluring, but can sometimes be elusive. Especially when you are dealing with nature, you never know exactly when they are going to bloom or how long they will even last. In general, they will stick around for a week to 10 days. This already leaves a short window of time to see them and that doesn’t include the fact that these flowers are fragile and can fall off their branches with a sudden gust of wind or rain.

So this guide is for all you flower nature lovers who may have missed the cherry blossoms and are here to see what else the city has to offer. Don’t worry because there’s a lot! From Saucer Magnolias to Star Magnolias, Tulips and Forsythia, there is no shortage of beautiful blossoms in the city. You just have to know where to go to see them.

But if you are only interested in the cherry blossoms, I’ve got your back. Click here for the cherry blossom guide!

The National Mall:

Washington DC, especially the mall area, is a very nice area to walk. I highly suggest just taking the day to wander and get lost. There is no doubt that you will run into flowers and beautiful trees while walking around the area. Even the side streets that lead up to the Mall have pretty florets to look at. But if you’re on a time crunch, here are a few specific places to go:

Enid A Haupt Garden

Click here to read more

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From earlier this year, an image from sunrise at the US Capitol.

I don’t think I’ve shared any other images I’ve captured from this morning. It was one of those mornings where it seemed like nothing was really working quite right. Whenever that happens, I try my best to tell myself that days like this happen and that I’m at least out doing what I love to do. I capture as much as I can and just sit on the images until I’m ready to have a full editing session. Those are the times when I’m excited about editing and feel creative enough to try new things that may have not worked before.

I particularly like this image because I don’t see a lot of images of just the Peace Monument located in front of the US Capitol. I love how the bare branches are framing the monument adding to the mood.

My camera settings for this image are F5 at 1/200th sec and ISO 320 with my Sony A7II and 70-20mm zoom lens.

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We flew in and out of Portland and hit the ground running. Our first stop upon arrival was donuts, but as soon as we picked up the essentials, we made our way to Cannon Beach. LOL. Just an hour and a half from Portland but by the time we arrived at our hotel, I was exhausted. We spent a little time walking around the beach but it was mostly spent decompressing in our hotel.

So Andrew and I woke up early the next morning (while Frankie continued to sleep in the hotel) and made our way to Ecola State Park. While researching the Oregon trip, this seemed like the place to be to get a great overall view of Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock and it really was. I loved how peaceful it was in the morning and for a little while, we were the only ones there.

If I remember correctly, the tree on the left-hand side was a stand-alone tree and probably one of the biggest ones at the viewpoint. I captured this image while we were walking back to the car. I loved the way the branch was framing Haystack Rock. I’ll be sharing more images from this view soon because it was just so impressive. I just thought this one was an interesting one and slightly different from what you typically see at Ecola State Park.

My camera settings for this image are F10 at 1/320th sec and ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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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.