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The Mount Vernon Trail is one of the best places to go for those who enjoy being active outdoors but doesn’t want to deal with the crowds in Washington DC. The 17 miles trail spans from Rosslyn, VA to President George Washington’s home in Mount Vernon but along the way provides some of the best views of the nation’s capital and then some. The trail itself is protected by the National Park Service and can be accessed year-round from 6 am- 10 pm.

Here’s a great map of the trail.

For a majority of the time, the trail is sandwiched between the Potomac River and the George Washington Parkway.  This makes it really easy to hop on and off the trail at any given point. But it also provides some very beautiful waterfront views.  In other words, you don’t have to walk the entire 17 miles in order to see the best of the best, here are some personal favorite points of interests and places where you can hop on and off the trail:

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The Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and Arlington Memorial Bridge are seen from the Mount Vernon Trail in the middle of autumn.

Theodore Roosevelt Island

(L) the footbridge leading to Theodore Roosevelt Island (R) Theodore Roosevelt statue

Let’s start with one of my favorite places along the Mount Vernon Trail, Theodore Roosevelt Island. A great place to begin your outdoor adventure. I love it because it’s not like any other place along the trail. Park your car in the parking lot and cross the footbridge. You’ll be greeted by Theodore Roosevelt himself. Walk within the island for a bit more solitude than you would get along the Mount Vernon Trail. No bikes are allowed on the island but there’s a bike rack by the bridge so you can leave your bike and walk 🙂

Once you are back on the Mount Vernon Trail, you will see beautiful willow trees, and about half a mile away from Roosevelt island, you’ll start seeing some of the best views of the Washington DC Memorials. Its one of the only places where you can actually see the top 3 landmarks (Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the US Capitol) all lined up in a row. There is not one spot, in particular, you should go to see them. The more you walk, the more the perspectives will change and the view from across the Potomac River is like no other. If you walk a little further, you’ll start seeing the Thomas Jefferson Memorial as well. Enjoy these views or the memorials anywhere from Roosevelt Island to the Navy Merchant Marine Memorial.

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July 4th firework celebration

If you can, my favorite time to go here is on July 4th for the firework show. You basically get front row seats all along this part of the trail so you don’t really have to go early to claim your spot. If you do decide to go, then driving/parking may be a hassle. The best way to do it is to take the metro and get on and off at the Rosslyn stop. It’s a little more than half a mile walk but you’ll be saving so much more time by using the public transportation route. I have been on the George Washington Parkway when there are fireworks and cars will literally stop in the middle of the road to watch it. At that point, traffic gets super backed up!

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Like I said in my last post, I have never actually crossed the Roosevelt Island bridge. Crazy, right? I’ve always just parked in the parking lot and headed straight to the trail just to capture images of the monuments. I had no idea what I was missing out on. So if you’re like me and haven’t explored this great place, it’s this open area with what look like great pieces of art and architecture around. It doesn’t seem very big and it was a little difficult to imagine what the water features looked like while they were covered in snow but I’m sure they could be really cool to capture in warmer climate. Already getting ideas for reflection images!

But it was the sculpture of President Roosevelt that really captured my attention. He’s right in the center when you arrive at the island so I tried to find different ways to photograph it. I really liked how he was covered in the snow (almost that white on white that I was looking for) but still looked like he was waving “hello”. LOL. After circling it a little bit, I found that I really liked the look of putting him a little further back but having a blurred out foreground element to make it look a little more interesting and to give that depth. I remember trying to stoop down a little so that the curvature of the bush matched the implied curvature of his body matched. So I would say that this was a successful first trip out to Roosevelt Island!

Even with all these great snow opportunities, I still can’t enough. Here’s to hoping we get a little bit more snow this season. Fingers crossed!

My camera settings for this image is F11 at 1/160 sec at ISO 200 with my Canon 5D Mark II and 70-200mm.

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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.

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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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Happy Independence Day, America! Hope everyone has a happy and safe evening tonight. I look forward to capturing some more firework images somewhere in the National Mall. Not sure where yet but either way it will be a good time. I always find photographing the fireworks super exciting. I feel like it’s similar to photographing lightning. You never really know what you are getting until you pop your memory card into your computer. Most of the time its way better than you imagined 🙂

If you have plans for photographing the fireworks, check out this youtube video I created a few years ago. Even though the video is a little older, the information is still valid. It’s all my tips, tricks and camera settings in order to capture the bursts. Hope you’re able to capture some great ones!

This image was taken 3 years ago close to the Memorial Bridge in Arlington, VA. It is definietly one of my favorite views of the monuments and Andrew and I have sort of figured out a system for photographing the fireworks from here. It’s a long story but Andrew’s least favorite holiday of the year is the 4th because in the years past I made him sit outside with me, in the heat and humidity while we wait for the fireworks. He misses out on all the bbqs and other things so when the 4th comes around he kind of rolls his eyes at the whole thing. So we figured out that he could just drop me off at wherever I want to go shoot from, close to the time when the fireworks are suppose to go off and he will just drive home to the air conditioning while I just metro my way home. It’s works out for both of us! LOL.

My camera settings for this image is F5.6 at 1 second ISO 160 with my Canon 5D Mark II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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Sometimes its good to just wonder.

The other day I was out by the Navy-Merchant Marine Memorial shooting the red tulips. They are so beautiful when they’re fully bloomed. Can you imagine just red on red flowers all lined up at sunrise? It’s like a dreammmm.

Typically when the sun has come up for a while, I’ll head back to my car. But on this day I was not ready. I didn’t want to go back. It was such a beautiful Sunday morning that I felt the need to go on a walk. So walking along the trail next to the George Washington Parkway, I found myself capturing the willow trees with the Washington Monument. I loved how linear everything was. I probably stopped at like 5 willow trees to use the branches as framing pieces. But then there was this one tree where the sun light was hitting it just right.

Wow, check out those leaves on top of the image. If that ain’t an image all on it’s own then I don’t know what is. But then mister bike guy came rolling past and made it even more perfect. I had no idea he was coming and once I saw him in my camera frame, I just kept on clicking, clicking, clicking.

LOL I waited a bit longer to see if I could recreate this moment with another biker. But I waited a good 10 minutes and no one showed up. I lady ran past but it just wasn’t the same. I don’t know what I was looking for with the other biker. I guess I just wanted options. Either way, it was the perfect Sunday morning walk.

My camera settings for this image is F/18 at 1/100th of a second at ISO 400 with my Sony A7Ii and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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Are you guys getting tired of these autumn images yet? I think the leaves are really starting to fall off now but I still have so many images from this season. It’s been so great. So much fun going out to shoot. I love the fall and not really looking forward to winter.

But really looking forward to thanksgiving 🙂