march

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At the end of every year, I like to sit down and look through all the images I’ve taken in the past year. It’s one of my favorite traditions because I reflect back on the year and most of the time, I have forgotten about some of the fun photo excursions I’ve been on. It’s also really nice to put all these images together in one place and view them as a collection.

We can all agree that 2020 was very unusual. Not only were there times where I felt uncomfortable going out to take pictures, but there were times where I just felt uninspired and a lot of judgment towards my own work. The judgment towards my work has always been there, however it was much more amplified this year. I tried my best to go out and shoot at least once a week but there have been at least a dozen photo walks that I’ve been on where NO ONE has seen the pictures from. I just wasn’t happy with them, so they are just sitting in my Lightroom catalog as we speak.

But that’s not to say that I lost my passion for photography. I feel like I am even more passionate about it than ever. When I wasn’t out shooting or doing the normal stuff I would typically be doing in a normal year, I was at home learning. I have never watched so many tutorial videos, read so many books, and slowed down to be really present while I’m out shooting. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been so hard with myself. I always felt like something could be better or different and I’m trying to use all that I’ve learned and apply it to my real-life shooting.

Typically I would have another blog post about my favorite travel images, but that obviously didn’t happen this year either… LOL. So here are my favorite images from 2020 🙂

January

washington dc, national mall, puddle, reflection, american flags, washington monument, sunrise, early morning, national parks, sylvan theater,

At the very beginning of the year, my friend Andy messaged a few of friends and started a little group called Sunday Sunrise. We were going to try to meet up every Sunday… for sunrise. LOL. Unfortunately, the group was only able to meet a few times in the beginning of the year, but while we were in the peak of meeting up, I created this one beautiful morning. I just love how the reflection turned out with that person walking towards the Washington Monument.

It’s interesting because this was the day that I realized that I take a majority of my images in a vertical orientation. A couple of years back, a friend of mine told me that magazines are always looking for vertical images because magazines are vertical. So ever since then, I’ve tried to challenge myself with the vertical orientation. And then Instagram started favoring the vertical orientation as well, so I’ve been creating pictures that way without even realizing it. This year, I’ve been making a conscious effort to take more horizontals to balance out the way that my imagines are seen.

February

US Capitol, sunrise, capitol dome, united states capitol, washington dc, puddle, Ulysses S Grant Memorial, reflecting pool, national mall, washington dc,

Another image with our Sunday Sunrise group. I don’t remember it raining or anything the day before, but there was this large puddle at the Grant Memorial. It was an awesome find because it gave such a different perspective of the US Capitol building. The beautiful sunrise colors was an added bonus!

March

It felt like spring came early this year and it was very much welcomed. I find that I’m always on the hunt to find new places to capture all the beautiful blooms in the city. I have been to the National Cathedral a few times for spring, but it was mostly to photograph the Saucer Magnolias that are at the park next to it. Never had I thought of walking the grounds and I was so pleasantly surprised when I saw these beautiful blooms.

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On October 17th, Washington DC held the 2020 Women’s March. I’m grateful to have been able to attend since my first one in 2017. A lot has changed since then. First of all, the women’s march in 2017 was in January and I remember it being pretty cold. People were walking on an icy reflecting pool and I even witnessed some people falling through the cracks. I remember crowds of people standing by the Lincoln Memorial but no one had any concern of social distancing or face masks. This was my first time attending anything like it before and I did not know much about protest/march/event photography.

For the 2020 March, I felt a lot more comfortable approaching people with my camera and I realize how my images speak louder than words. I tried my best to get unique angles while focusing on the crowd but concentrated on details that could be easily overlooked.

In general, it felt like this group of people wanted their voices heard and they were not going to back down from anything. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg passed a month prior to the march and soon after there was already a supreme court justice nominated as a replacement. These women were vocal about reproductive rights, worker’s rights, civil rights, and more.

The March started at Freedom Plaza with a kickoff rally and starting point for everyone to meet. Most everyone I saw there was wearing a face mask.

Before I knew it, everyone around me started forming into a line and somehow I ended up being at the very front of it. It was so cool how everyone just came together so quickly.

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On June 9th in Houston, Texas, Rev Al Sharpton delivered a eulogy at George Floyd’s funeral.  At that time he also announced that he would plan a demonstration in Washington to rally for criminal justice revisions. Ever since that day, I kept my eyes and ears open for the information as it developed. I knew this was going to be a huge event that I wanted to attend.

The Black Lives Matter movement in Washington has been an eye-opening experience for me. In all my years living in the area, I’ve never attended any protests or rallies like this. So when I went to my first one, I knew immediately that I wanted to keep going back with my camera. I couldn’t help but be in awe of all the passion and emotions I felt while attending these protests.

But the day before Rev Sharpton’s Commitment March on Washington, President Trump accepted his Republican nomination for  US President and had a fireworks display at the Washington Monument. Since I missed photographing on the 4th of July this past year, I figured I would go to the Reflecting Pool and practice some of my night photography. Although there were only 3 other photographers at the Reflecting Pool, there was also a news crew right next to me who was listening to President Trump’s speech. I listened to every word and as soon as he finished, the fireworks went off.

I’m glad I went because they were very different from the previous 4th of July firework displays. You could tell that they were shot off with the White House as the main spectators so all of my images were a little skewed to the right. I should have thought of that before picking my firework location. Oh well. I also noticed how the Washington Monument was the centerpiece of the show. I had never seen rings of fireworks go around it before. It was pretty cool and I had fun photographing the show from a vantage point that was only seen by a few others.

But watching the fireworks from the Reflecting Pool also allowed me to see the set up of the rally the night before. It was interesting to see how the sides of the Reflecting Pool were gated off, the chairs for people with special needs were socially distanced, and there were so many lights set up all over the memorial grounds.

A little sneak peek of the rally set up from the night before

On August 28, 2020, the 57th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Rev Sharpton and the National Action Network held its rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with a march ending at the Martin Luther King Jr memorial.

I’m grateful to know this part of the city like the back of my hand so I was able to park my car as close as I could to the White House and walked over to the National Mall with ease. It was a hot, humid summer day and a little harder to breathe with a facemask on. With a water bottle in my backpack and my camera in hand, I was ready to go.

My game plan was to start close to the WWII memorial and walk down the Reflecting Pool to try to get as close to the Lincoln Memorial as I could. Other than that, I had no real intentions of what kind of images I wanted to photograph. I was just going to go with the flow and stay mindful of everything that was happening around me. That means I zipped my phone into my backpack and watched the people around me.

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Another puddle shot. I’ve been loving them this year and shooting them at the Tidal Basin is super easy because there are always puddles! Even when it’s super clear and nice out, there will be a puddle. It’s just because the sidewalks can be really uneven that if you look around there will be at least a little one in the cracks somewhere.

This however was not a little puddle. It was quite big and pretty much took over the whole sidewalk. Days like this, I’m super grateful to have rain boots. That way I can walk comfortably wherever without having to worry about my socks getting wet or my shoes getting muddy.

I’m also really grateful that the cherry blossoms peaked so nicely this year. It was totally unexpected that they would since we had that cold spell in the middle of March. I think it scared away a lot of the people because everyday that I went down to the Tidal Basin, there weren’t a lot of people there (compared to previous years where it’d be hard to even walk, let alone get shots without many people in it). Overall I’m just so happy spring is here and the cherry blossoms were amazing. I don’t know if I’ll be at the Tidal Basin anymore shooting the cherry blossoms this year but hopefully in other places around the DMV area <3

This was shot at F5.6 at 1/125th of a second at ISO 400. Again, I did not shoot this on my tripod because it just can’t get low enough. Which reminds me, if you guys have any tripod recommendations that can get super low, like almost touching the ground, let me know. I’d love to try that out. The only reason the ISO was at 400 was because this was hand held and I wanted to make sure to get everything sharp and in focus.

 

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I’d like to visit the tidal basin as much as I can this week. Cherry blossoms are no where near what they were like in previous years but regardless they’re still beautiful. With the cold weather, only about 50% have survived and will be peaking. As of right now, the flowers are almost there. Some trees are really beautiful and have some great blooms on them. Some are just completely dead. The others are half and half and it’s hard to tell which direction they’re going. I’d say if you were planning on a trip to go, I’d go towards the end of the week or even the weekend.  That is if you want to battle the craziness of the crowds and the actual cherry blossom festival.

This was taken yesterday morning around sunrise. The sunrise itself wasn’t too impressive since it was too cloudy but it made for the perfect backdrop for a moody cherry blossom shoot. I ran into my friend, Jarrett again. We always seem to run into each other during sunrise but especially during cherry blossom season. It’s sort of become a running joke with us. Regardless, he’s great company to walk around the basin with. We’ll talk about anything from photography to social media to creepin’ on other people’s engagement photoshoots. You’ll have to watch his instagram stories to understand. LOL.

My settings on this image was F8 at 1/80th of a second ISO 500 with my 28-70mm. I intentionally set my aperture around f/8 so I can get most things in focus. I definietly wanted the flowers to be seen and the Washington Monument. Another grey day means another high ISO image to make sure the wind wouldn’t make this image blurry.

But there will be more of these updates throughout this week and maybe even next week. Please let me know if you like them because I like posting them 🙂

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If you get to your location earlier enough, even on the cloudiest of days, you can still get a pretty awesome light show. This was taken last week after all the snow fell. The tidal basin was glowing in purples and I thought going behind Jefferson memorial would be a pretty cool view of it all.