lightning

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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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Going through some images I took earlier in the year, I found this gem. I had no idea I captured the lightning because the exposure was actually pretty dark. I thought maybe a lightning strike hit behind the clouds or something but it was the bright light on the left-hand corner that caught my eye where I thought it could be something. So in Lightroom, I brought up the exposure and found the lightning strike! It was so exciting. Probably almost as exciting as capturing it, even though I didn’t know I had captured it at all.

It brought back all these memories of that evening. Obviously, I knew I captured this one and waiting out the rain on the west side of the Capitol was awesome because we didn’t actually get wet. But it’s always a good time storm chasing with friends. It makes the time go by so much faster.

My camera settings for this image are F4 at 1/5th sec and ISO 2000 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm.

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So I have to admit, I was a little hesitant to post this image. I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate but it’s such a cool shot! LOL.

I captured this image the same night I was out with my friend, Zack storm chasing. We actually started off the night at the Lincoln Memorial, figured the storm was moving in a direction that it would look cool at the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial and then eventually ended at the Washington Memorial. I didn’t expect the lightning so I didn’t have my tripod so to capture this, I was using the flower beds in the middle of the walk area as my support. But it’s so funny because this was the first shot that both Zack and I took at this location and we both caught the same lightning strike with the same point of view. LOL.

I blame the low hanging clouds. The clouds were hanging so low and heavy that there weren’t that many huge strikes that evening. If there was, they seemed to crawl horizontally across the sky. And since I was using the flower beds as support, I couldn’t fully see my composition so it was a happy surprise to see the leaves on top of the image. I think it frames everything so well.

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 1/13th sec and ISO 1600 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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And this is what it looks like when lightning strikes behind the clouds. I love the glow the clouds are giving off in this image. So much so that it’s kind of hard for me to say if I like this image better or the one I took of the actual lightning strike. There’s something about seeing all the definition in the clouds that I can’t stop looking at. Plus it’s incredible how much light actually comes from lightning. *trying my best not to reference Grease Lightning*

Let me know in the comments which one you prefer.

In other news, Andrew and I are headed to Oregon next week. I can’t wait. It’s our first times visiting and I’m really looking forward to spending time exploring the Pacific Northwest. You should see my google map. It’s filled with pins. Is it me or does it seem like everywhere you turn is another waterfall in Oregon? While I was doing some photo research, I read that someone called it the “Iceland of America”. I giggled but also really hope it’s true.

I also discovered that Oregon seems super dog-friendly. Out of all the places I was interested in going, Crater Lake National Park is the only place that dogs aren’t allowed to go. So with that in mind, Frankie’s coming on the trip with us too! I can’t wait to go on hikes with him and run on the beach. Don’t worry though, we bought a backpack for when he gets tired on the hikes 🙂 Can’t wait!!

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 1/5th sec and ISO 2000 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide-angle lens with my tripod.

All photos available for print and licensing >

I’m not sure when I started to become a sunset/night photographer but it just sort of started happening naturally. The summer days have been rough to wake up for sunrise but to be honest, the sunsets have been looking way better than sunrise anyways. Sunset around Washington DC has it’s own interesting challenges like parking and dealing with the crowds of people but the more I get out there, the more I’m appreciating the sunset glow more and more.

But this image came by accident. I was out with Zack (again, on a different night) to photograph the Lincoln Memorial at sunset. The sunset wasn’t really what we expected so we waited a bit longer for blue hour to try to capture the monuments at night. Then when I was about to say bye to Zack and walk back to my car, I saw a lightning bolt out of the corner of my eye.

OMG change of plans. I did not end up going back to my car, quickly texted Andrew that I was going to be home later than I expected and both Zack and I started looking at weather apps to see where the storm was headed. We made a game plan to try to capture it by the Tidal Basin and then as the storm moved forward we were going to try to capture it with the Washington Monument. It ended up being a super exciting night of storm chasing but the only problem was that I left my tripod in my car! Argh! Capturing lightning is significantly easier with a tripod and remote.

So I had to improvise. In order to capture this, I was basically just sitting on the ground hoping to get something. I was so lucky. But I also LOVE how the street lights are red. It’s sort of like a warning to not pass in case of lightning.

My camera settings for this image is f4 at 1/15th sec and ISO 1250 with my Sony A7II and 16-35 wide-angle lens.

All photos available for print and licensing >

It happened! OMG! I’m pretty sure it’s because I blogged about it last week, but I was finally able to capture a lightning strike this summer. I still can’t get over it.

I had been talking to my friend, Andy sporadically throughout the day through text message when I finally asked him if he wanted to meet up for sunset. He told me he was already meeting up a friend for sunset but if I wanted to join them, I was welcome to. So I crashed their party and invited another friend and ended up having such a great time.

The best part was that we did not even get wet! The storms were passing right in front of us and we definitely felt some of those lightning strikes, but no actual raindrops on us. It was perfect.

The sunset ended up being dramatic but I stayed about an hour after to try to get a more distinct lightning strike. You can definitely see lightning strikes a lot better when it’s dark out.

Holy cow I did not expect this one. It was like Thor’s hammer slammed straight down into the Capitol Reflecting Pool. I’m still so excited I was able to capture it.

Since I got one, I’m hooked. I can’t wait for another storm to happen so I can try to get even more lightning strikes. Maybe now that I’ve blogged about it again, it will happen again 🙂 Fingers crossed!

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 1/8th sec and ISO 2000 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide-angle lens.