july 4th

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I love how the city gets so patriotic during the 4th of July. Anywhere you walk you can see flags everywhere. But the Willard InterContinental on Pennsylvania Avenue always sticks out in my mind as being one of my favorites. I’ve noticed that every year they will hang American flags outside each of the hotel windows and it just looks so cool from afar.

But for some reason or another, I’ve tried so hard to capture these flags but couldn’t get an image I was happy with. I may have first noticed them 3 years ago. I even tried photographing them last year and said: “Oh well, next year”. But this year was going to be the year.

I had an image in my head of what I wanted to capture ahead of time and I knew I was going to take my time around this building to make sure I got it. Although when I arrived some of the flags were twisted around the pole, this is pretty much what I had in my mind. I love how the white building is the perfect contrast to the flags. But it’s all the horizontal lines and repetition that really gets me. If I ever had a big office building, I’d want to do the same thing.

To be 100% honest though, I’ve been so busy with photographing things for other people and projects that it’s been a while since I had gone out to shoot just for myself. I went out for a little photo-therapy and it felt great. I’ve realized it something that I need to make a priority to do at least once a week, even when its one of those super busy weeks where it seems like I don’t have time. I can’t let it slip anymore.

My camera settings for this image is F8 at 1/160th sec and ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom.

 

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Happy Independence Day and Happy Birthday America!

And #tbt to my favorite firework image I captured last year. Actually, it’s probably my favorite firework image I’ve ever created just because I’ve never seen anything like it. I love how everything is just so symmetrical. I was lucky to be able to squeeze my way to the front of the reflecting pool to capture this image.

Unfortunately, there may not be a view like this for a while since the firework location has changed this year. So if you’d like to see my tips and tricks on how to capture the fireworks and suggestions as to the best spot to capture them in Washington DC today, check out my guide here.

I’ll be out photographing the show this year, unless we get another one of those evening storms that we’ve been getting so much lately. Fingers crossed the weather works out.

My camera settings for this image is 5.6 at 1/10th of a second ISO 160 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm lens.

Hope you have a fun and safe 4th of July 🙂

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Now that it’s almost August, I thought it would be a good time to share another firework image. HAHA.

But seriously, I think this year’s firework images have been my favorite so far. I love the way that they turned out. Not only was the weather perfect, but the show itself was amazing. This image kinda reminds me of this one that I posted earlier in the month, except this one was a little bit later in the night. Since so many fireworks had been shot off there was much more smoke but I can’t stop looking at the details in the lights. Just looking at it, I can hear the crackling noise that the fireworks make.

To be honest, I was a little nervous about shooting with my 70-200mm that night. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be the right lens or if the wide angle would be best. But with the 70-200mm I was able to capture so much more details then I had expected. It brought so many unexpected point of views that it is honest my new favorite lens. I’m having so much fun with it.

As far as my next lens. I’m thinking a prime lens. I haven’t really played with one before but I love how fast they are. I’m totally in the zone for experimentation and trying new things so I think a prime lens may be the next move. If you have a Sony prime lens, let me know your favorite one and why. I’m open to suggestions.

Oh and you may have noticed that I’ve been slowly adding to my gear collection. Let me know if you’d be interested in seeing an updated gear video and I can get that to you soon-ish.

My camera settings for this image is F5.6 at 1/10th of a second at ISO 160 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm lens.

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#TBT to last week on the National Mall and how I snuck my way to the best spot to capture the Washington DC firework show

To be honest, I’ve didn’t envision this. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen a fireworks image like this at the National Mall but it’s one of my favorites that I’ve ever taken. Luckily, I was so close to the reflecting pool that I was able to get this view point. It also helped that I was shooting with my 70-200mm and that this was taken at the very beginning of the show so there was no smoke or anything else to cloud the view of the Washington Monument. Just a very clean sky and an amazingly still day. It was kind of crazy though because I was so close to the reflecting pool that pieces of the firework shrapnel was falling on me. I didn’t even bother looking down to clean myself off because I was so focused on capturing light that there was no time.

This was my first time shooting the fireworks from here. So within that 30 minute window I had time to try different angles. Meaning I was standing up and sitting down throughout the entire show. I found out that sitting down was probably my best bet. I got some cool images of just the tip of the Monument but I think the advantage of being so close to the reflecting pool is the reflection. In the beginning I thought the fencing would get in the way, but I actually kind of like it now. It adds an extra element of line and reflection that isn’t usually seen unless it’s the 4th.

My camera settings for this image is 5.6 at 1/10th of a second ISO 160 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm lens.

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So the 4th was awesome. It was one of the best fireworks displays I had seen in a long time. It was hot and humid but not humid enough where it effected the sparkles like it had in the years past.

I rode the metro to the mall and made my way over to the Lincoln Memorial. I was flying solo this year since Andrew had better plans of bbq and fireworks at home and it seemed like all my photo friends had their own ideas of where to shoot the fireworks from. I’ve been wanting to shoot in front of the Lincoln Memorial for so long so that I finally took the opportunity this year to do so. I arrived around 615p and the Lincoln Memorial steps were already packed! I didn’t even bother. It seemed like everybody was so squished up and it was already way too hot without all that body heat around me so I looked over to the Reflecting Pool to look for some open spots. I think being by myself was an advantage because I was able to squeeze in, dead center of the Reflecting Pool. It was awesome! There was only one row of people in front of me and that was it.

I sat there for almost 3 hours, reading on my kindle app and playing some phone games. Its funny though, I stood up to get my camera ready at around 9p. The fireworks were supposed to be going off at 9:09p. And even though I had been waiting for those fireworks for sooo long, it still surprised me when the first one went off. I’m pretty sure I screamed so loud that the people around me heard me yelp and jump a little bit. A little embarrassing, but whatevs. The show was one that would be hard to forget! I’m not usually one to say anything but I was ohhh-ing and awe-ing the whole time.

My camera settings for this image is F5.6 at 1 second ISO 160 shot Bulb with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm lens.

All photos available for print and licensing >

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.