early morning

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It’s pretty well known by now that I’m an early bird. Even if I don’t go out to take sunrise pictures, I still like to get an early jump on the day. I hate being late to meetings and I hate feeling like I’m rushed. I’m a very go with the flow type person and would rather not worry about looking at the clock all the time.

But to be honest if I’m not out taking pictures early in the morning and it’s one of those lazy days where I don’t have much going on, I’m usually just taking my time eating breakfast with a face mask on. The last thing on my mind is exercising. LOL. But props to everyone who do wake up early in the morning to work out. It’s very unusual to be at the National Mall and not see a runner or someone on a bike. Even in below freezing weather you’ll see people! Good for them.

I honestly think that’s one of the best parts about Washington. I love seeing how active people are. It’s inspiring. Plus they can make for great subjects when no one else are around 🙂

I was standing on top of the Lincoln Memorial steps when I captured this. I just happened to run into my friend, Andy while out taking pics and we had stopped at the top of the steps to catch up. I saw the bicyclist coming from a pretty good distance so I lined up my composition and just waited for him to ride by. I was surprised to have captured the runner as well. I didn’t see her at all. Glad she was there for that little extra pop of color.

My camera settings for this image is F5.6 at 1/500th sec at ISO 400 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

 

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Speaking of fog, Saturday was really foggy. There were times that you could not even see the Washington Monument it was so foggy. But at sunrise, the fog brought this beautiful glow to the city and it was amazing.

On this particular day, I parked on Ohio Dr. so coming from that side of the National Mall, I had my first glimpse of the US Capitol at the Reflecting Pool. I love how the dome is partially covered by the mist and lights. This was the very first shot I took and probably my favorite from the entire morning. I didn’t have my tripod with me so I sort of balanced my camera along the side of the reflecting pool and for this shot it worked well. Others, not so much. Another reason why this is my favorite shot. LOL.

So I have been getting questions about foggy mornings. Just like a colorful sunrise, they’re hard to predict. This particular morning I knew it was going to be foggy because the night before had been incredibly foggy and the weather apps said it was going to last all night. However, there have been times that I have been out and knew there was going to be fog without the weather apps saying so. I’ve realized that when I listen to the radio or a weather forecast and the meteorologist says, “warm front” then there’s a good chance for fog. It’s the combination of the warm air mixing with the cold that brings the foggy mornings and I love it. Foggy mornings like this is what makes photography so much fun. You just never know what you’re going to get.

My camera settings for this image is F5.6 at 0.6 sec and ISO 800 with my Sony A7II with my 70-200mm ultra zoom 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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Now that I’ve been waking up early for years and basically track the weather every single day, I have kinda given myself the title of junior meteorologist 🙂 LOL. Meaning, I can look at a weather report and look up in the sky at the clouds and get a good idea of what the weather is going to be like. So over the weekend we had pretty cool, mild weather with lots of clouds but I kept on hearing reports that the weather was going to warm up. So with the cold air mixing with the warmer air, I knew there was going to be fog.

And I was right! I love when that happens. I’ve been wanting this fog for a while now, spending almost every morning that I go out by the reflecting pool because I had envisioned some shots that I wanted to take. So glad it finally happened. The field to the right of the reflecting pool is a great place to capture fog but I especially like how it lingers into the trees. With Washington DC being such an active city, I knew having runners through the fog would look pretty cool. I had my 70-200mm on for every one of these shots and patiently waited for people to run/walk past. I tried my best to capture people wearing more colorful clothing but much like me, a lot of people wear black.

The last two images were taken after the sun had come up. I thought it was really interesting with the warm tones mixing in with the fog. It sort of gave off that halloween vibe. LOL

Well, I hope you all enjoyed the images and have a great weekend! I’m off to Thanksgiving number 2 today with hopefully a lot of leftovers <3

 

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So after I photographed the Korean War Memorial for a bit, I walked over to the Reflecting Pool to check things out. Since we had snow the day before, I was really hoping for a little bit of fog. Lately, I’ve been loving the reflecting pool for this exact reason. I love the way the fog gets trapped around the trees of the pool so I wanted to make sure I was at the right place at the right time. Well, it didn’t happen.

But this happened! I love how simple this image is. I shot it with my 70-200mm at 200mm standing on the top of the steps that lead to the reflecting pool. I’m not sure if it’s easy to tell the location if you’re not familiar with the Washington DC area and that’s the reason why I like it so much. It looks like it could be almost anywhere. The reflection of the Washington Monument perfectly cuts the image in half and the two people standing there is absolutely perfect. I also love how compressed the image is and you can’t even see the stairs. It’s as if we’re on two totally different platforms and you have to leap down to get close to the water.

LOL I love how these past few posts turned into a chronological description of what I did in the span of 2 days. Not intentional but it will be very interesting to look back on.

PS speaking of looking back, 2018 is almost over! If you haven’t already, check out the 2019 Dynamic DC calendar. I LOVE the way it turned out this year. I don’t have many left so get them while they last. And can we talk about how much I love February’s image OMG <3

My camera settings for this image is F6.3 at 1/1250th sec ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm ultra zoom lens.

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It looked like nothing even happened the day after it snowed last week. It was like back to fall all over again, which I don’t mind in the least. I went out to photograph the sunrise because I thought with the weird weather it would bring something dramatic, it didn’t, but it was the fall leaves that caught my attention. They were particularly colorful by the Korean War memorial so I decided I would spend some time photographing a memorial I don’t usually photograph.

It’s funny because I always had this idea in my head about the Korean War Memorial. I thought it was a difficult memorial to photograph because where it is on the National Mall (it’s not in a very well lit corner) or how the figures are placed. I don’t know, I never really got a composition I was really happy with… until this time.

Maybe it was the colorful leaves behind the figures or I was feeling particularly inspired, but I had a really good time photographing the memorial. To be honest, I still think that photographing this is the best during snow or fog. It just reduces things everything down. It even makes the shrubs in between the soldiers a little less visible which I think makes it a little better in a photograph. Oh well, since it’s going to be a particularly snowy this winter, I guess I’ll have more time to put this into practice.

That orange glow though! My camera settings for this image is F6.3 at 1/50th sec and ISO 500.

Also, let me know if you like these multiple image posts 🙂 It takes me a little bit longer but I feel like it tells more of a story of what it was like being at the location.