cherry blossoms

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Spring is my favorite time to be in Washington DC. Birds are chirping, flowers are blooming and everyone seems to have a smile on their face. What’s not to love? It’s a special time to be in the city where tourists and locals alike flock to the famous cherry blossoms to admire their beauty.

To fully prepared, I reference this website a lot. It’s National Park Services’ Bloom watch. I think they have the most accurate up to date information about the peak bloom. They also break down the stages so that you know what you’re looking at in case you are overly eager and want to check out the trees asap.

2019 Update: National Park Service and Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang are both predicting the first week of April as peak bloom so it sounds like a pretty safe bet that April is going to start off really pink <3

So if this is your first Cherry Blossom experience in the Nation’s Capital, let me try to break it down for you…

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Today is the day! The day that the National Park Service announces their Cherry Blossom predictions for peak bloom. It’s not always accurate but it is a great way to gage if they will bloom early or late this year. With the amount of rain and snow we received this past winter, I’m guessing that it will be a little bit later than earlier. Don’t quote me on this but if I had to guess, I’m going to guess they are going to peak the end of the first week of April until the second week of April. But that’s the thing about cherry blossoms. They don’t last too long. I’d say about 10 days max but typically a week. If during that week we receive rain or a big gust of wind, forget it. Those flowers are gone. In the past, I’ve seen them peak as early as the end of March. We had an unusually warm winter that year and it confused everyone, including the cherry blossom trees. So my prediction is purely based on how cold I’ve been this winter. LOL.

This image was taken last year during cherry blossom season at the National Gallery of Art.
Pro tip– if you want to get away from the crowds, the NGA or even the US Capitol are both great places to check out the beautiful flowers with less people.

And if you find yourself booking a trip to Washington DC to check out the peak bloom, check out the cherry blossom guide I have been updating every year. It should have everything you need to know about the beautiful trees. If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.

My camera settings for this image is F5 at 0.6 sec and ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 28-70mm lens.

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It may seem a little premature, but I’ve already started thinking about updates I need to do for my Washington DC Cherry Blossom guide. I definietly want to make it a habit to update it every year, especially as the spring season approaches. So the other day while I was going through some of my older images and I came across some from the National Gallery of Art.

Although there aren’t as many cherry blossom trees there and they are significantly skinnier, these are some of my favorites in the city. The reason being that when you go, you’re usually the only one with these blossoms and I just love the backdrop. The National Gallery of Art is such a beautiful building all on it’s own but when you combine that with the cherry blossom trees. Um can you say, magic? LOL. That may be exaggerating a little but I love shooting there. Last year may have been my third year in a row but it honestly never disappoints.

For this image I really wanted to keep this one with a monochrome look. Nothing too dramatic or standout-ish. Just a simple image of beautiful flowers with a simple background. Visiting the National Gallery of Art is probably one of the only ways to accomplish something like that. With all the people around the cherry blossoms, the trees being so close to each other and just the way they are planted, it would be very difficult to do the same at the Tidal Basin. Unless of course, you’re shooting in fog *heart eye emoji*

So if you have any questions about the cherry blossoms around the Washington DC area, please let me know. It will definietly help me update the cherry blossom guide.

My camera settings for this image is F5.6 at 0.4 sec and ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

 

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

2019! WOW. Not to total ignore 2019 but everytime I think 2019, I can’t help but think 2020 is just around the corner and that is just bananas to me. Like can you imagine people saying that they were born in 2020? The number is just crazy to me. P.S. Where are the flying cars at?

Anyways…

Much like my top travel images of 2018, I like to reminisce and look back on my favorite images from Washington DC from the past year. It makes me feel so fortunate to live in the Nation’s Capital. I love being able to hop in my car and within minutes be among some of the most recognizable and loved landmarks in the world. I feel extremely blessed and look forward to another year of capturing more images.

Click on each image to read the original blog post but I’ll try to add some additional light on these images now that I’ve sat on them for a while. In no particular order except chronological, here are my favorite images of 2018.

fog, tidal basin, winter, weather, umbrella, stranger, candid, washington dc, national mall, moody, cherry blossom trees, trunk, photowalk,

This day was definietly a highlight of the winter season. I remember we had some crazy foggy mornings but on this particular day, the fog happened in the middle of the day. Oh yea, it was raining too. Luckily, it was on a Sunday and I didn’t have much else going on. So what better way than to walk around the National Mall than with my friend, Birch. I still love how everything lines up in this image, even the little reflection you see in the puddle behind the lady is so interesting to see.

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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.

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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.