great falls

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Now on to a totally different fall foliage vibe is this image I captured on Halloween morning. My friend, Larry and I met up and made our way to Great Falls Park. PRAISE HANDS EMOJI that the gate was open and we were able to get in around sunrise time. But there was not much of a sunrise. It was a really foggy morning at the park which was kind of appropriate considering the day. The crazy part was that it was so foggy by the water but when you looked to the other side of the park it was blue skies.

Since it was so foggy, Larry and I ended up walking to the last overlook first and decided to work our way back to the front as the morning went on. This image was taken as we were leaving that last overlook and saw two deers just hanging out beside the start of the River Trail. We tried our best to be as stealth as possible but I think it was our camera shutters that gave us away to the deer. That or it could have been me trying to push the limits and move closer and closer to the deer. Either way, the deer were not as friendly as we would have liked. So here’s a shot of one of the deer running away from me. Deer butt is better than no deer, am I right? LOL

My favorite part about this image is the framing. I love how the leaves on the tree are almost about to touch the deer in the background. Even that little branch that’s hanging down directly in the middle of the two tree trunks is a happy accident that I did not even notice until I brought this image up on the computer.

Speaking of happy accidents, I was Bob Ross for Halloween. LOL. But I don’t know how great it was because I scared my 3 year old nephew as soon as he saw me. I think it may have been the facial hair. He was so hesitant to come near at any point of the night. When I asked him to share candy with me, he was more than willing to but basically just threw it at me from a safe distance. HAHA. What did you dress up as?

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 1/8th sec and ISO 800 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm ultra zoom lens.

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The original intent of Snap DC: Your Guide to Taking Extraordinary Photos of the National Mall and Beyond was to help fellow photographers capture amazing images around the National Mall. I wanted to take all the knowledge that I have and put it all in one place to help anyone who wanted to photograph my favorite city. The first thing I did was mind map all of my favorite locations and quickly realized that I had a dilemma. All of my favorite places to shoot in Washington DC were not just in the National Mall. They were located in and around the city, including this place, Great Falls National Park which is technically located in Maryland and Virginia.

I had to decide if I wanted to narrow the focus to just the National Mall or keep it real and include all the other places. So I kept it real. I love Great Falls. Its such a great getaway from the busyness of the city. Who would have imagined that this magical waterfall is just 20 miles outside of the city. This was taken from the Virginia side and if you go to the Maryland side, it’s a totally different ballpark.

So if you were interested in learning more about Great Falls National Park, The National Mall or all of my other favorite places in the DC area to shoot, then check out Snap DC! It is finally going to be released THIS SUNDAY May 20th on Amazon as a paperback and kindle version. Also don’t forget that we’re photowalk-ing it out on Saturday, May 19th with IGDC to celebrate the launch of the guide book. This weekend is going to be so awesome. I can’t waittttt!

My settings for this image is F4.0 at 1/2500th of a second at ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle handheld.

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We had our very first snow fall of the season over the weekend! It was perfect. It snowed all day Saturday, just one or two inches. Enough to stick on cars and the grass a bit but nothing on the roads. No mess to clean up, no fuss to worry about. Just the way I like it!

My friend, Larry and I went out to Great Falls Park to check it out. It’s been a while since I’ve photographed the park and was really looking forward to shooting it in the snow. It reminded me of my high school days when I first got interested in photo. At that time, I didn’t know how to drive so my sweet mom drove me in the snow so I could get the shots that I wanted. And wait for me in the cold to photograph the trees and water. It’s crazy how things come full circle. I remember being really proud of those Great Falls shots in high school. LOL how time flies. I bet if you asked her today, she’d still remember doing that. SHOUT OUT TO MY MOM! I LOVE YOU AND APPRECIATE YOU! Even though you know I blog every day but still don’t read them.

I am really looking to photographing more snow this season. I heard we’re going to get a lot this year. I was sort of looking at this Great Falls Park photoshoot as the prequel. So many possibilities to shoot. And I’m really hoping for some drone shots thrown in there too! Let me know, what’s your favorite weather to shoot? Mine is fog but snow could be a close second. Similar effects but more cold.

The settings for this image is F4.5 at 4 seconds and ISO 160 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm lens.

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Happy Friday! Yay It’s here!

Lately I have not been getting excited for the weekend. Mostly because I have so much fun during the week that the weekend is kind of an afterthought to me. It is so weird. But it is true. I get excited for Mondays! But this weekend is an exception. I’m really looking forward to it.

Reason #1: It’s Frankenstein’s Birthday! My baby boy is going to be 8 years old. Seriously, where does the time go? I remember the day we brought him home. Currently, he is right next to me sleeping and snoring in his dog bed. But it is so cute! We plan on having a little birthday party for him on Sunday. Yes, we are those dog parents. But its our way of celebrating our favorite little pup. This was him two years ago.

Reason #2: I’m heading to Maine next week! I can’t wait. It will be my first time there and I’m guessing it’s going to be a great time. From what I hear, we should be visiting at the perfect time for fall foliage too. So if you’ve been to Bar Harbor or Acadia National park and have some good photo or food recommendations, let me know! I’ll make sure to add them on the to-do list.

Lobster Rolls, I’m comin’ for yaaaa!

So that means by the time I get back, DC weather needs to cool down. It’s been way too hot lately. Time for your leaves to start changing and your air to get crisper. I’ll be practicing in Maine but the real test will be when I get back home.  It’s FALL Y’ALL!

This image was taken in 2014 during the autumn season in Great Falls Park. The camera settings are 15 seconds F/22 ISO 50 shot on a tripod at sunset.

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This is what I’m talking about!!!

Another image that I shot way back in 2011 in Great Falls Park and at the time I shot this, I don’t think I knew how to edit very well. Or maybe I was just scared to edit it because it would not turn out the way I wanted. Or who knows what the case was but I never edited this image. Isn’t that crazy? I could tell by the other images from this day that it was foggy! I dunno. I was probably intimidated.

But now that I’ve gained more skills and confidence in my photo editing, I am so glad I found this image again. I love it! It really embodies why I love fall colors so much. The red/warm tones are just so welcoming. I can’t wait for the crisp cool air to come. And pumpkin flavored everything in the grocery stores!

Back in 2011, I was strictly shooting and processing my images using high dynamic range (HDR) editing. It’s been at least 3 years since the last time I’ve done this. I’m not sure what you’d call my editing style now, but I definietly have developed a method to produce images that I’m really proud of. If you’d like to see more about how I edit my images, check out these videos.

So the camera settings for this image was 1.3 seconds at F/18 and ISO 800 on my Canon 5D Mark II. I can’t see on my metadata but I’m positive that I shot this on my tripod. Not only because it was more than a second exposure but because everything that I shot at this time was on a tripod. It could have been a super bright, sunshiny day and I would still shoot on my tripod. Even thinking about how much I’d shoot on my tripod makes me grateful for my photo process and see how much I’ve learned and grown from it. Don’t get me wrong, I love my tripod and still shoot with it but only when it’s needed and it’s not needed for every single click.

 

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It seems a little early, but I’m already thinking about pictures this year for fall foliage. Like I mentioned in my blog post last week, our trip to Acadia National Park is already booked.  I’m really looking forward to that adventure, but I want to  find more local places to take pictures. Great Falls Park has always been one of my favorite for this reason. The trees are beautiful and I love seeing the bright colors in contrast with the gigantic waterfall. I also really like it when you can see leaves falling on to the rocks. One of my favorite images from the past couple of years was one at sunset with the evening glow lighting up the Maryland side. Click here to see what I’m talking about. It’s not photoshopped. It was really that bright orange.

On a side note, I have also created this guide if you wanted to check out Great Falls Park yourself. You’ll love it. The guide and the park 🙂  If you’ve never been, the Virginia side is my personal favorite. The Maryland side doesn’t seem to have as many great viewpoints.

In more technical preparations for the fall color, I’ve invested in my first set of circular polarizers for my wide angle and zoom lenses. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to try them out before our trip. But I’ll let you know how I like them when I get back. Here’s a really informative blog post by Digital Photography School that pushed me to actually get them.

The camera settings for this image is 0.4 seconds at F/14 at ISO 100. Shot with no filters on a tripod. My favorite part of this image is being able to see the color of the sky in the water. I think I could stare at that one little section for hours.