capitol building

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Last week was pretty epic. Not only did we have one of the coldest days of winter that we’ve had this entire season but it was also the super blood wolf moon eclipse moon turn red night too. I made up that long title but you know what I mean. Everything about last Sunday was intense.

I got a lot of messages asking if I photographed it and I’m sad to say I did not. I thought I would give moon rise a go and see how that went. If it wasn’t too bad I may have set my alarm to photograph the actual eclipse, but I just couldn’t. The moonrise was so cold and windy, I can still feel the wind blowing on my back. Coming from the California sun to highs of 15 degrees, my body was not ready for it.

So I spent the early evening with my friend, Birch chasing the moon rise. We used the app, photopills to help guide us where to go and ended up at the US Capitol. Once we saw it, we were both so excited. It was so big and beautiful. If you were out that night, you would have found us up and down Maryland Ave, basically screaming at each other through the wind saying how beautiful it was. LOL. I know cars driving past us most of thought we were crazy. LOL whatevs.

I finally came upon this closer to 3rd street. I love the way the moonlight is playing the street lamps. Even the lights lining the balcony on the US Capitol is very interesting for me to look at. If only that one street lamp on the left was on 🙁

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 1/160th sec with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom.

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One morning I found myself walking around the US Capitol with my 70-200mm in hand. It was right before Christmas and other than capturing the capitol Christmas tree, I wanted to get some images that weren’t just of the holidays.

So here’s a little secret, one of my favorite places to be is on the west side of the Capitol facing east at sunrise. It sounds counterintuitive but once the sun comes up a little bit, I love how it shines bright onto the building’s facade. With the beautiful architecture, columns, and everything else, the sun can create some interesting shadows and make the lines really pop.

I loved the way these columns looked from a distant angle. At first I was standing a little further back when I noticed the patterns they were creating. There was no way I was able to capture it without some blue sky so I kept walking a little bit closer and closer until I could finally fill the entire frame with it. With the warm sunlight shining bright on top and the dark shadows in the tunnels underneath, I thought it was a really interesting composition.

A few moments after I captured this image, a Capitol Police officer came out from the columns and it was an almost perfect focal point to capture. I was so excited and snapped a few images but then my camera battery died and the officer went back into the columns 🙁 I think I’ll be back sometime soon to try to recreate this and hopefully have some warm sunlight shining as well. Either way though, I really love the way it turned out. It makes me feel all warm and happy inside.

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 1/8000th sec at ISO 800 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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Hope you enjoyed the last two blog posts where I relieved some of my favorite moments of 2018. If you missed it, you can see them here and here. There were just so many images to choose from because I tend to like all my images LOL. but for some reason this one didn’t make the cut.

This evening at the US Capitol was pretty epic. There was barely any rain but the lightning strikes were going crazy. It was perfect. The only reason why it didn’t make the 2018 favorites just because I wasn’t able to capture the lightning strikes like how I’d hoped for. I was really hoping for a huge strike like this one I captured in 2016. Man, I think capturing that image has sort of made me a bit jaded from all the other lightning strikes I’ve been able to capture. Like this one is cool and all but… LOL.

But I do really like this image because of the composition. Those clouds were epic and I loved the way the sky turned from dark blue to purple when the lightning would hit. Just showing that little bit of of the US Capitol dome is all the information you need to know exactly where you’re standing. It was beautiful night and I was so lucky to even capture anything at all.

So let me know, were there images that you liked in 2018 that weren’t on my list? I’d be really interested in hearing your opinion.

Either way, I’m so looking forward to 2019! It’s going to be a fantastic year with hopefully a lot more photo opportunities like this one to capture that huge lightning strike I’ve been looking out for.

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 1/13th sec at ISO 400 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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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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Lately whenever I think of snow, I’ve been thinking cherry blossoms. Pretty awful, right? Only because the past few years when we have had snow storms, it has always been later in the season and interfered with the cherry blossom peak. So last week when we had our first “snow” in the Washington DC area, it made me want to look back to some of my spring images. You could say I’m already missing the warmer weather 🙂

Washington DC has two awesome flower trees. Obviously the cherry blossoms (captured on the left side right below the US Capitol dome) but a very close second are these pink magnolia trees. The magnolias are just as beautiful but the flowers themselves are bigger and I believe less delicate meaning they won’t fall after a huge gust of wind or rain. They can be found all around the city but my favorite ones are located on the National Mall. Although the US Capitol isn’t technically the National Mall, I feel like it’s close enough….

Seeing these pink flowers frame some of our nation’s most iconic landmarks make me so happy. It definietly gives them a more feminine and warm feel.  This particular day was a foggy spring morning. I think it works though because now the whole image is filled with pink flowers instead competing with blue skies. And yes, I did have to wait like 5 minutes to get some people walking along the path. You know, just your local, lurking photographer waiting for you to walk past 🙂 LOL. Yes, to be honest sometimes I do feel like a creeper sometimes. But it’s for the ART!

My camera settings for this image is F10 at 1/30th sec and ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 28-70mm lens.

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From the other day when I was going through old photographs of the US Capitol, I ran across this one. This on the other hand, I do remember photographing. It was earlier this year, I don’t remember what season, but I do remember it being cold. I also remember that I was the only photographer out while there were severals runners all around me. Do you see that person in the blue? I think she kept on running by me to see what I was actually doing. She’s in several of my shots but decided to not really include her in the final image since I think the compass is the main focus here. I also remember just walking around the Capitol grounds and just having a great time listening to my earphones.

Sometimes I listen to music in my earphones but other times I’m listening to audiobooks. I just finished my latest earlier this week. It was Tiffany Haddish’s book, The Last Black Unicorn. It reminded me a lot of Kevin Hart’s book, I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons because it’s all about how Tiffany became a comedian. I love how she reads the book herself. I feel like it gives me a way better feeling of who she is in real life. I feel like if we met, I would be cracking up laughing the entire time.

The book is funny but I was not cracking up laughing the entire time. Tiffany has gone through some crazy stuff in her life that makes you realize how amazingly strong this woman is. She’s definietly a role model to someone who needs to look on the brighter side of things. A little warning: It does get a little raunchy at times but overall I’d recommend it to my friends if they’re looking for an interesting book to read/listen to.

If any of you have any other book recommendations, please let me know. If you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know that I read/listen to a lot of motivational, self improvement or biography type books. I love a good non-fiction story.

My camera settings for this image is F8 at 1/15 sec at ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.