capitol building

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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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It’s been a while since I’ve shared a proper Washington DC image. With all the fun traveling that I’ve been doing, I have backlogs of images that could last me for weeks! Super fun but I thought I’d switch it up a bit today.

This image was taken last Friday. Sunrise is early (5:55a to be exact) but for some reason it was not difficult for me to get to the United States Capitol 30 minutes prior. It has been awhile since I woke up that early, but I think I was just so excited to get and shoot that the early morning alarm did not even bother me.

The sunrise looked promising but ended up being too cloudy. So I walked around and found these awesome flower bushes. They’re actually across the lawn and a sidewalk away from the United States Capitol. Not as close as you may think but if you’ve been following the blog for a while, you’ll know that I love making foreground elements look as big as the background. So to capture this, my camera was in the bushes. I angled it up just so the flowers frame the dome and I love how it looks like they look like they’re about to engulf the building.

My camera settings for this image is F4.5 at 1/200th sec and ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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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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Washington DC is ideal for sunrise photography.

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 I compiled the top 7 best spots to make your trip to the Nation’s capital easier to navigate.

I’ve done all the research for you so you can just get out there and shoot. Here’s everything you need to know to capture a stunning sunrise in Washington DC:

How to Prepare for Sunrise

I love the alignment of where the sun rises among the monuments as opposed to where the sun 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.

Don’t worry though even if no one else is around, park police have the memorials under constant surveillance which makes this one of the safest places to be in DC at night. If anything bad should happen, help will not be far away.

I typically try to arrive at my sunrise location about 30 minutes before the sun actually 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 so I would just take your tripod if you want and just be respectful when photographing the grounds. The worst that will happen is that someone will ask you to put it away.

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…

You Can’t Go Wrong with the Reflecting Pool

In my opinion, the Reflecting Pool 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 to 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