long exposure

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Virginia was issued the initial stay at home order on March 30th, 2020 due to the Coronavirus. It didn’t come as a surprise but it was still something that I had to mentally prepare for. Honestly, one of my first thoughts about it all was, “How am I going to go and take pictures?” Not only is photography fun for me, but it is my way of exploring places, finding stories, and expressing myself. In the past, the longest I had ever gone without taking pictures was a week. I already knew the stay at home order was going to be tough.

The world was a rapidly changing place and I was craving to capture it. Here’s are the images I created in the first two months:

Cherry Blossoms

Covid-19 really started being a concern in the Washington DC area just before the cherry blossom season. We had an unusually mild, dry winter that allowed the cherry blossoms to bloom a bit earlier in the year than they usually do. So I was excited to be able to visit the Tidal Basin with a bit less of a crowd since travel was in the process of slowing down and social distancing was starting to become a new term. I tried to go as much as I could until it started to get too crowded. When it got to be too much, I decided to just stay home and be happy with the images I was able to create. My logic was to take as many pictures as I could until it got to be unsafe and then spend quarantine editing them.

Weekdays at sunrise are really the best times to visit the Tidal Basin during cherry blossom season, Coronavirus or not.

The last day I was at the Tidal Basin when it started to get a little too crowded

The cherry blossom trees are smaller at the Washington Monument, but still just as beautiful. I tried capturing a few images from there since it’s a larger area to roam.

Cherry blossom trees are seen from the George Mason Memorial

Mt Vernon Trail/Georgetown

That weekend, Andrew and I decided that we should try to get out “one last time” before we had to stay home. We decided that the Mount Vernon trail would be a good place to go and stretch our legs. Andrew walked Frankie on the trail which allowed me to take my camera and capture a few images as well.

Considering the stay at home order was placed the very next day, I’m so glad we did this. It was a foggy morning and the trail was not as crowded as it usually is. We parked our car at Gravelly Point and headed towards the Navy Merchant Marine Memorial.

At the cherry blossom peak bloom, but the pink flowers came out a little hazy in the fog.

(L) A quick stop in Georgetown along the Key Bridge. (R) Views of the Washington Memorials are seen all along the Mount Vernon Trail.

Vienna Metro

So this is where my real pandemic images begin. It had been about 1.5-2 weeks since our walk on the Mount Vernon trail and I was going crazy. I had never purposely taken such a long break from taking pictures, and it was not making me feel good. I was really craving creativity, seeing what this new world looked like, and just to walk around with my camera. So I started locally. I mean really local since I live within a few blocks from the metro. I figured with public transportation being at an all-time low, it was probably the safest and most isolated I would ever see it.

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After a rainy day (or night) in the Washington DC area, you can count on finding a lot of puddles in the National Mall. In grassy areas and things, I think that is expected, but this image was taken on the steps on the way down the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. There is a landing in the middle of the steps that almost always has a puddle. The questionable part is that sometimes it doesn’t even have to rain for there to be a puddle either. Regardless, this puddle is great for reflections.

The sunrise this day wasn’t the best. It was very blue with overcast skies. So to make it a little more interesting, I thought the puddle could create some interesting symmetry. I purposely left that gap in the middle so that you can see that this was not taken at the actual reflecting pool.

But on a side note, I got a new tripod! I received the new Peak Design tripod a little bit before the holidays. It’s been so much more convenient to carry this travel tripod around then my previous Gitzo tripod. I plan on doing a review on it soon so if you have any questions, let me know in the comments!

My camera settings for this image are F4 at 1/160th sec and ISO 1600 and my Sony A7II and 16-36mm wide-angle lens.

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Happy Friday!

These images were taken on July 3rd. My friend, Laily invited me to her neighborhood firework show and it was a great one. Since it wasn’t the National Mall, I decided I was going to concentrate on a few different things. 1. on just the fireworks, 2. the crowds of people, 3. different exposure techniques. In the end, it was the images of just the fireworks that I liked the most. Not bad for a neighborhood show!

Unfortunately, I did not take pictures on the 4th. It had been raining all evening and to be honest, it just scared me away. I had experience of rain on the fourth and the fireworks had been less than spectacular so I decided to just sit it out. It was a last minute decision I honestly kinda regret. It looked like the beginning of the firework display was awesome but then fizzled into just colorful smoke by the end. Either way, there’s always next year 🙂

And now that I have a better idea of where the fireworks are shooting from, I think I’ll be more prepared for next time!

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Last week I got invited to go to Altaire’s rooftop. If you don’t know Altaire, it is a luxury apartment complex right off 395 in Crystal City.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia but I’ve always known it for the Pentagon and a few good restaurants. It has actually come up in conversation recently because Amazon has decided to build an office there. But other than that, I’ve never really spent that much time there.

So I was excited to get the invite. I was wondering what kind of views I could get from Crystal City since I’ve never actually photographed anything there. HOLY COW! My jaw dropped. The views are stunning. I’m pretty sure I’ll be sharing images from here for a while because I was literally like a kid in a candy store just snapping away. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to live in one of these apartments and waking up with a view like this. I don’t think I would ever leave my house. Either that or set up a tripod on my balcony and just time lapse it all day. LOL.

This image was taken just after sunset. I was waiting for the sun to go down so that I could get these car trails along the highway. I think it’s so interesting to look at all the different layers of this image and try to figure out where everything is located. For example, I think those purple lights in front of the US Capitol building is the Wharf, right?

Thanks again to the good people at Altaire for having Larry and I there. I had a B-L-A-S-T!

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 0.8 seconds and ISO 800 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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Capturing this image totally reminded me of photographing Great Falls Park. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a body of water with such fast rapids storming down. It made me miss how peaceful it is just sitting at the ledge and watching birds come and go. *As long as they don’t come anywhere near me*

This image was taken at the Pipeline Trail in Richmond, Virginia. At first when my friend, Albert mentioned that he wanted to go there for sunrise, I had no idea why the trail was called what it was. I figured it was because it was a really narrow trail or something, but no. You are literally walking on top of a pipeline. It was so interesting and something I’ve never done before. But there are railings and a small platform on top to make things safe. At times when we wanted to pass each other, we had to squeeze into the railings to let the other person go by. It was fun!

So this image was captured while sitting along the edge of the pipeline. I was using the railings as a way to keep my camera sturdy for the long exposure. They key things that I wanted was for the bird to be in the light, for him to turn to the side so you can see his body shape and for the bird to keep still for at least a second so I could capture a clear shot of him. Probably out of 50 pics I took from different angles, this one fit my qualifications the best. For some reason to photograph the bird to stay still for more than a second was the hardest part.

My camera settings for this image is F22 at 1/6th sec and ISO 50 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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When I was looking up different places to take pictures of Chicago at night, the Chicago Theatre came up in so many of my search results. I think if you’re visiting Chicago it’s a must see. But most of the other images I have seen were of cars driving past and getting the light trails from that. I wanted to try something a little different. I saw some other images where you could get an elevated view point, so I thought I would combine the two and hope for something cool.

This was taken after dinner and dessert. We walked over to the sign and I noticed how many people were walking by taking selfies so I thought it would be interesting to try to get a long exposure of that. It also helped that the Chick-fil-a was right there so I was even able to capture people walking out of the fast food restaurant. I think it turned out a little creepy but an interesting take on the landmark.

So if you’re interested in joining me in Chicago in July, we’re actually running a sale on the workshop. Click here for the details and looking forward to seeing you there 🙂 I heard it can get real hot in the summertime which I can’t even imagine at all. It just snowed there again over the weekend!

PS Can I be honest. One of the highlights of my day is when I look at my blog and see people have ‘hearted’ a blog post even if I haven’t shared it on social media. It honestly makes me smile knowing that you just come to my blog just to see it. I can’t tell who does it but I really, really appreciate it! Thank you!

My camera settings for this image is F20 at 1.6 sec and ISO 200 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.