Flowers

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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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Although it’s not official “peak” cherry blossom season, there have been sightings all around the city.

So this is my first official cherry blossom image for 2020. I’m really looking forward to capturing more blooms around the city!

With that said, this year will be a little different. I already have some cherry blossom workshops planned at the Tidal Basin, but other than that I won’t be capturing the Tidal Basin Cherry Blossoms. I really wanted to spend this season capturing the flowers all around the city as opposed to that area. It’s going to be a fun challenge and I’m up for it. I’ve already started creating a list!

My camera settings for this image are F5.6 at 1/5000th sec and ISO 320 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide-angle lens.

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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.

2020 Update: National Park Service is predicting an even earlier peak bloom on March 21-24th due to this beautiful, warm weather we’ve been having. <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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Sad to say but I have kind of given up on the idea of snow this year. We may be getting a little bit today, but it doesn’t look likely. So as of now, I’m looking forward to spring.

On the other hand, I heard from the grape vine that we may be seeing cherry blossoms earlier than expected. I’m talking way earlier like before St Patrick’s day. Oh well, I guess we’ll have to wait to see what happens. The weather in DC is always so crazy. When the cherry blossom predictions come out, I’ll be sure to update my cherry blossom guide.

Who knows thou. Snow in March has happened before!

My camera settings for this image are F8 at 1/25th sec and ISO 400 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide-angle lens.

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One of my favorite things to do before the New Year is to go back and look through all my images from the past year. It’s fun to reminisce on all the memories and it’s a great way to see how much I’ve grown as a person and photographer. It’s funny how looking back at some of these images can bring back so many memories. In general, I feel like I share a lot when I’m posting a new image every single weekday on this blog so there’s bound to be some images that I connect with more than others. So without any social media influence or outside judgment, here are my personal favorite images I created in 2019.

Something that I found interesting is that the images that are my favorite from this past year aren’t your stereotypical Washington DC monument images. Yes, they may have some of the monuments and landmarks included in the image, but I love how unique and creative these images are. So I’m pretty sure you should expect to see even more of these types of images in 2020!

P.S. You can 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. So in no particular order except chronological, here are my favorite Washington DC images of 2019.

washington monument, washington dc, reflecting pool, us capitol, sunrise, early morning, ducks, birds, national mall,

Ok, the first image on the list and I’ve already cheated. LOL. This image was actually taken in 2018, but I didn’t get a chance to post it until 2019. Regardless, I love this image. It’s just so simple but my favorite part is the Washington Monument reflection down the middle. It’s not super obvious, but this was taken just after the sun had risen a bit and it was hitting the Monument at the right spot to make it glow orange in the US Capitol Reflecting Pool. I just love how subtle reflection is. The water also kind of reminds me of a Mary Cassatt painting. Just an impression of water with tiny brush strokes.

 

enid a haupt, garden, smithsonian, smithsonian castle, smithsonian gardens, magnolia, saucer magnolia, spring, pink, flowers, national mall, washington dc

Besides the cherry blossoms, I always look forward to the magnolias trees in the Washington DC area. My favorite of the bunch can be found behind the Smithsonian Castle in the Smithsonian Gardens on the National Mall. On this particular morning, I was with my friend, Birch while out shooting and I remember telling her about my upcoming road trip to Austin. She had been there before so she was giving me advice on what to do there. See, isn’t that crazy? I remember all those details from just this one single image? HAHA.

cherry blossoms, spring, festival, cherry blossom peak bloom, washington dc, tidal basin, nps, national park service, cherry blossom festival, spring, pink

I’ve never captured an image like this, but I’m in love. I think this may be my favorite cherry blossom image I captured all season. It’s the one that always comes to mind whenever I think of this spring and I just think it’s so unique. It’s also the fact that when the cherry blossoms flowers start falling off the trees, they fall so delicately and so beautifully that it’s actually pretty hard to capture. Especially when you’re doing it organically as opposed to staging a photo. But this image is of cherry blossom petals falling times 100. LOL. I didn’t pose this image but I did have some assistance. National Park Service was actually cleaning up all the fallen petals from the ground near the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial by using a leaf blower. So as they were trying to gather all of the petals in a pile, I was ready with my camera to capture them as they were flying in the air.

cherry blossoms, spring, washington dc, peak bloom, falling petals, national mall, long exposure, spring, flowers

On one of the last days of the cherry blossoms, we had rain. Rain or wind are usually the two deadliest elements for cherry blossoms so I knew this would probably be the end of them for the year. As I was walking around the Tidal Basin, I was noticing some petals that had already fallen onto the ground and in the water. So I captured this image almost by accident. I had left my camera settings the same as the previous image, but looking down onto the water was a little darker than it was photographing them in the trees. So by accident, this was sort of like a long exposure. Whatever the case, I love the way it turned out. The motion in this image is so interesting to me and I love how you can still make out the shape of the flower petals. SWOOSH.

US Capitol, washington dc, capitol dome, architecture, roses, red roses, flowers, spring, national mall, capitol building, flowers,

I’m starting to notice a flower theme I’ve got going on here. HAHA. But this is an image that I did not expect to find. I woke up early one summer morning so I could catch the sunrise at the US Capitol. I love just walking around with my earphones in, listening to music and watching the sunrise however the sunrise itself didn’t end up being that spectacular. So I decided to just take advantage of the early morning hour and empty Capitol grounds with my camera and walked around. I’ve noticed these rose bushes bloom every year and I’ve always tried to come up with a creative composition with them before but never really found one that I really liked until this one. I love how they are engulfing the Capitol building and all that is left is the dome in the middle of the image. I feel like this looks like a greeting card for Washington DC. LOL.

potomac, maryland, md, sunflower fields, instagram, meetup group, birch, flowers, sunflower, sunflower fields, yellow, igdc,

This technically was not photographed in the city of Washington DC, but I added it to the list anyways. This was taken in Potomac, Maryland, a little less than an hour away from Washington DC but it’s one of my favorite places to be in the summer because of all the sunflower fields! It was captured during an Instagram meet up with IGDC. My friend, Birch and I decided to go in the middle of the sunflower field to see if we could find something interesting. With a step ladder, we took turns climbing to see if there was a unique point of view but while I was on the ground, I found this framing. I just love how the top flower petals look larger than life. Or larger than a Birch! HAHA.

union station, train station, parking, parking garage, sunrise, early morning, worker, construction, us capitol, capitol dome, capitol building

For a unique view of the US Capitol, consider visiting Union Station. The top level of the parking garage is usually pretty quiet, especially if you’re there early in the morning. I don’t know why, but I’m usually just standing by the ledge you see in this image. When you look down you can get a cool shot of taxis and pedestrians walking to the train station, but this day I decided to take a step back. Not sure what compelled me to do it. I think I was just looking for a different view, but then I saw how all these light posts lined up and thought it looked very interesting. This parking garage is so quiet that I actually had to wait a bit for someone to walk by. But when he did, I was ready for him.

washington monument, reopening, north side, white house, top of the washington monument, tour, national mall, washington dc, window,

One of the best things to happen in 2019 was in September when the Washington Monument had finally reopened. After 3 long years, visitors can finally go to the top and see the city from a whole new point of view. I could have added a whole bunch of images you would see from the windows of the Monument, but I really liked how this one turned out. Just a moment of silence and contemplation as a couple as they look out on the view. If I remember correctly, they were facing north towards the White House at sunset.

#eventsatamericanhistory, smithsonian, national mall, washington dc, sunset, rooftop, american history museum, national museum of african american history and culture, museum, wedding venue, washington dc

Like I always say, “More Rooftops, More Better”. And the Smithsonian National Museum of American History listened. Soon after the Washington Monument reopening, the American History museum followed by opening its doors to the rooftop. Unfortunately, it not opened to the public, just for private events, but based on where it’s located on the National Mall, this rooftop will provide some amazing views of the city. I mean, could you imagine getting married with a view like this? This image is of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. I just love the rigid lines of the architecture with the curves on the sidewalk. It’s such a contrast that I think really works for this image. Plus that sunset glow makes it even better. So if you’re planning on hosting an event here, I’d love the opportunity to go back here again! *hint, hint*

united states capitol, us capitol, reflecting pool, washington dc, lightning strike, summer, storm, lightning, lightning strike, storm clouds, capitol building, capitol hill, national mall

And last but not least, this image I posted last week on the blog. LOL. I still find it hard to believe that I didn’t know I captured this but not really all at the same time. When I’m out photographing lightning, I’m usually shooting off my images so fast that I don’t really get the chance to review them in between shots. So there could be many more lightning images that I’ve missed. I’ll have to go through my archives more carefully. Not only do I love the way the lightning strike turned out, I think the clouds behind the Capitol look so powerful. It looks like a storm that I should have stayed indoors for but glad I didn’t.

So there it is! My favorite images from 2019. I can’t believe that actually ended up being 10 images. I didn’t plan for it to be that way but it’s pretty cool that it did. I had a lot of fun creating these images and this list. It makes me excited to get back out there and photograph even more in 2020. Let me know what you think of this list and if you have any favorites. I’d love to see them.

And if you live in the Washington DC area or find yourself traveling to the capital city, check out my book, Snap DC, Your Guide to Taking Extraordinary Photos of the National Mall and Beyond… It was created for any level of photographer from mobile to DSLR, who wants to cut down the research time and spend their time out doing what they love- shooting.

Snap DC: Your Guide to Taking Extraordinary Photos of the National Mall and Beyond...
  • Pan, Angela B (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 210 Pages - 04/26/2018 (Publication Date) - CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (Publisher)

In the meantime, I hope you have a very happy and safe New Year! Tomorrow I’ll be posting my favorite images from travel in 2019. AHHH I can’t believe its 2020!

 

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I did it. I went back to the sunflower fields again. But this time, I went with IGDC. I was a little reluctant to go last weekend because it was just so hot and humid out but I’m so glad I did.

It was so great to see so many of my friends and going out and taking pictures with them. It made the whole experience so different. I felt like I was able to see the sunflowers in a different light. Instead of just concentrating on the blooms, I was more interested in the interactions of my friends with the sunflowers. While some people brought ladders and drones, others had props like picture frames and colorful umbrellas. It was pretty interesting to see the kind of shots everyone was trying to take.

At one point, I was asked to go out into the middle of the field with the umbrella to pose for some images. I agreed and my friend, Birch said that she would go in the middle with me. After my job as “model” was done, Birch and I took some time to just stay in the middle of the field to take some pictures of our own. Luckily, we brought out this ladder so we had an elevated view of the field.

But when it was Birch’s turn on the ladder, I thought it would be interesting to see if I could get a sun flair or something coming from her shoulder. I got some shots but then I ducked down a little bit and loved the way this super tall sunflower was framing her. I love how you’re able to get the sunflower petals on top of the image but also see sunflowers in the distance. A shot I probably would have never gotten if I kept on going to the sunflowers by myself 🙂

My camera settings for this image is F22 and 1/60th of a sec and ISO 200 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide-angle lens.

PS: click here to see this image on the Washingtonian