capitol grounds

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If you’re anything like me then you’ve been on zoom calls at least a couple of times a week due to stay at home orders placed by the government. It’s hard not to be able to see loved ones and colleagues in real life so one of the next best things to do is hop on a video call. I’ve attended birthday cake cutting zooms, girls happy hour calls, and even photo critiques with fellow photographers. So I figured I’d spice things up a bit with a new background and wanted to share some with you. I went through my archive and found a variety of images so you can swap out your real-life background for something a little different than your living room couch.

Here are instructions from the video conferencing site, Zoom on how to change your virtual background. These images are all cropped to the recommended aspect ratio.

Free Zoom Background 1: Rawlins Park

This image was created about a week before the stay at home orders were placed in the Washington DC area. Rawlins Park in Foggy Bottom right at full peak with Saucer Magnolia trees. If being surrounded by an abundance of pink flowers is your dream, then you can make it happen with this zoom background.

Rawlins_Park_Zoom_Background_Angela B Pan

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Free Zoom Background 2: Ecola State Park

If quarantine has got you dreaming of the ocean, then this may be the perfect Zoom background for you. I visited Oregon for the first time last year and to say that I fell in love was an understatement. I captured this the first morning I was there from Ecola State Park. The perfect place to watch the sunrise over Cannon Beach and the beautiful haystacks.

Ecola_State_Park_Zoom_Background_Angela B Pan

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Free Zoom Background 3: Multiverse

Taking the Zoom name literally, I thought this may be an interesting background for your video calls. This image was created in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. Multiverse is a combination of light, sound, and video created by Leo Villareal. A Concourse walkway that connects the East and West Buildings and not to be missed if visiting the gallery.

Multiverse_Zoom_Background_Angela B Pan

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Free Zoom Background 4: US Capitol Storm

For a slightly more dramatic background, I thought this image of a lightning strike at the US Capitol could be interesting to use. Stormy times call for stormy skies?

US_Capitol_Storm_Zoom_Background_Angela B Pan

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Free Zoom Background 5: US Capitol Flowers

And for a slightly less striking image (pun intended), here’s an image from last summer at the US Capitol. I loved the way that the red flowers were framing the dome.

US_Capitol_Flowers_Zoom_Background_Angela B Pan

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I hope you enjoy these backgrounds. If you decide to use them, please send me a screenshot! I’d love to see them.

Stay safe and healthy!

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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

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I don’t even remember the last time I’ve visited the US Botanic Garden. I know it has to have been at least a couple years and the last couple times I was there, it was purely for the orchid exhibit. I did not go anywhere else or really explore the grounds.

Well last week I had a former photography student and now friend come visit from Sweden. He planned a trip to go to NYC and in the middle of his trip, decided to come down to Washington to see me and another friend he has living in this area, Andrés. It was so great to catch up with Patriq. We talked about everything from photography, American food to Ikea. PS in case you were wondering, swedish fish aren’t really from Sweden.

We met up around the US Capitol and then decided to poke our heads into the US Botanic Garden. For some reason, I had never been in this room and it seems like it’s the main room you go in as soon as you walk into the building. It’s breathtaking with all the plants and vegetation. My favorite part was the ability to walk up the stairs and get a high level view of the room. I found this spot but knew there had to be someone in it to make it complete. I just love the play in perspective with the huge leaf in the foreground and the little Patriq in the background. We were only in the garden for a little bit before we went to our next stop but I can’t wait to go back again. This place has so many great photo opportunities just waiting to happen!

The camera settings for this image is F10 at 1/80th of a second and ISO 400 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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Usually when I’m out shooting, I’m by myself. Which I don’t mind because then I can fully concentrate on what I’m doing. But this time Andrew and Frankie came out with me. I always feel like it’s a special treat when I can have my guys come out with me. Although, they’re not really with me most of the time. Frankie’s usually sniffing around somewhere looking for a stick to play with while Andrew’s on his phone reading about sport highlights. By the time all this color came out, I made both of them stop to appreciate. Only one of them listened.

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I had no idea it was suppose to storm on Saturday, but all of the sudden the clouds came rolling in. Good thing I didn’t have any plans for around sunset time so I was able to go out and shoot. It was a lucky surprise to see the rainbow, but I didn’t even see the beginning of the second rainbow until I brought the images up onto my computer. So cool to see what the camera picks up and not your eyes.