memorials

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One week ago today, I was with my friend Larry on the Altaire rooftop again. It probably the best view I’ve ever seen of the nation’s capital. I feel so lucky every time I get to go up there.

So the first time we were up there, we were visiting during sunset. The sunset was amazing and the night pictures were even better. But I wondered what it looked like during sunrise. So when the opportunity came up, I had to jump on it. I know this isn’t the usual kind of sunrise images I post, but I really like it. It’s the Friday morning commute in and out of DC with a little haziness in the sky. I love that you can see the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, and the US Capitol all in one frame. But if you look even closer, you’ll see the Basilica of the National Shrine, Smithsonian Natural History Museum, and the Old Post Office!

It’s so interesting to see all the individual cars and where they’re headed on 395. I don’t know, I really like it. What do you think?

Big thanks again to Altaire for the opportunity to shoot on your rooftop.

My camera settings for this image are F6.3 at 1/160th sec and ISO 200 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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I got another roll of film developed! It’s always so exciting to get your rolls of film back, don’t you think? For some reason, I always forget most of the images I photograph so getting to see the images is so fun. Tell me why I had images of snow and cherry blossoms on the same roll! LOL. I don’t always procrastinate on stuff, but I guess capturing images on film is one of those things that I think can wait.

So here are just a few of my favorite images I received. The one above is of the Smithsonian Castle captured from the steps of the Hirshhorn Museum. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed how the Washington Monument can be seen from this point of view. I loved all the layering and points.

It’s like spring all over again. Looking up at the cherry blossom at the Tidal Basin.

Classic view of the cherry blossoms with the Washington Monument in the frame.

This image was captured on a spring afternoon on a walk around Georgetown with my friend, Andy. We decided to get some bubble tea after we left Dumbarton Oaks and this was along the way.

A selfie in the “Mirror. Mirror” art display in Alexandria’s Waterfront Park in Virginia. This is very cool to see in person and would recommend stopping by if you’re in the area. Luckily, I was there when no one else was so I was able to get this solo self-portrait.

Obviously, these are a little out of order but it’s just so weird seeing this snow image with all the others. I love this view from the View of DC. So obviously I had to go check it out when the city was covered in snow. I think this image turned out pretty well considering it was photographed through a window.

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If you’re looking for the best spots to watch and photograph the sun setting in Washington DC, you’ve come to the right place.

The National Mall can get crowded, overwhelming and confusing. I’m here to help you navigate the park so you can get your best shots quickly and efficiently.

I’ve lived in the area my whole life and been photographing the National Mall for over 8 years. I’ve pretty much been to every one of these places at least 20 times. So here’s my complete list of the best to watch the sunset in Washington DC:

But First, Here’s What You Need to Get Ready for Your Sunset Shoot

Because of the number of people that visit the National Mall every day, sunset is a little more difficult to navigate than sunrise. There are far more people, we’re talking busloads of people, so be prepared. That means if this is your first time in Washington DC, I’d highly suggest public transportation either by metro, Lyft or even an electric scooter! All are very convenient ways to get you around the Nation’s Capital.

Also with the number of people, I’d even say try to get to your sunset location earlier than you think you should. Who knows what kind of hang-ups you could possibly run into. If it were a cold winter day, I say you could get by with going 30 minutes early. On a beautiful summer day, I’d go as far as saying an hour before sunset would not be a bad idea.

And my number one most asked question, are tripods allowed? For the most part, yes, but you may run into some complications. If you’re in a densely crowded area like World War II Memorial or Lincoln Memorial, you will probably be asked to take it down immediately by Park Police. They can be a walking hazard and just get in the way of people. But if you’re in a more spread out area like the Washington Monument grounds or even the Tidal Basin, there is a little more elbow room so you could get away with it.

The United States Capitol is unique because it’s technically not a part of the National Mall. The last time I spoke to Capitol police they said tripods are allowed. Since then, other photographer friends have told me that the Capitol police asked them to take down their tripods. So I’m still pretty if-y if they are actually allowed. I tend to just bring my tripod to the Capitol and if I’m asked to put it away, I do so politely.

Now on to The Top 5 Sunset Locations in Washington DC:

The Washington Monument is Always a Good Idea

The Washington Monument is so iconically Washington DC and the tallest structure in the city. So because of that, there is no best time to photograph it. It can be seen from so many different vantage points around the city that the possibilities are endless. However, if you catch it at the right time, it can glow orange. It’s absolutely amazing if you see it.

In order to capture the glow, I’d recommend getting to your sunset location early and face east towards the Monument. I would suggest standing either in front of the World War II memorial or along the grassy area in front of the west side of the monument and maybe 30-40 minutes ahead of sunset will work. I think the closer you are to the monument the better the imagery. But the key is to be patient. The way that the sun reflects off of clouds and on to the monument to glow doesn’t happen every day but if you see it, it will make your travel images very unique.

Other cool places to see the Washington Monument: POV Bar at the W Hotel, Rooftop Bar at the POD hotel in Chinatown (I have a thing for rooftop bars), Netherlands Carillion in Arlington VA, or along the Tidal Basin.

 

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The Washington Monument glows orange on a winter sunset evening.

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Right before I left for Las Vegas, all my winter dreams came true. We finally got a decent amount of snow in the Washington DC area that I was able to photograph. I think one of my favorite things about photographing the snow in the national mall is the white on white that you get from the snow with the memorials. It just makes everything look so calm and monochromatic. The only way that you can tell that this is a color image is from the street signs. LOL.

The best part is that the snow doesn’t stop people from getting out there and exploring. You know what, I even saw runners and bikers on bicycles out in the snow. You can never say that the people in Washington DC aren’t dedicated. LOL.

This is an image that I’ve been planning for a while now. I’ve actually taken quite a few images from this spot but I don’t know if I’ve ever published any of them. They’ve never been exactly what I’ve been looking for. But in this particular image, I love all the snow on the ground with the tire tracks that are acting like leading lines directly to the side of the Lincoln Memorial. I saw those people crossing and purposely waited for them to be in the middle. I guess just a small detail that makes the image just a little more interesting. I love how it adds a little bit of scale as well.

Even though it just lasted one day, I’m glad I was finally able to capture some this winter season 🙂 But to be honest, I’m about ready for spring now.

My camera settings for this image is with my Sony A7II F4.0 at 1/2000th sec and ISO 800 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm ultra zoom lens.

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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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Washington DC is ideal for sunrise photography.

I’ve lived in the area my whole life and been photographing the National Mall for over 8 years. I’ve pretty much been to every one of these places at least 20 times. So I compiled the top 7 best spots to make your trip to the Nation’s capital easier to navigate.

I’ve done all the research for you so you can just get out there and shoot. Here’s everything you need to know to capture a stunning sunrise in Washington DC:

How to Prepare for Sunrise

I love the alignment of where the sun rises among the monuments as opposed to where the sun sets from. It gives off this amazing warm glow on the memorials that’s hard to get at sunset. Plus there is this overwhelming feeling of peace and calm in a city that’s usually hustling and bustling during the day. At sunrise you’re more likely to get images with no one in them while at sunset it’s nearly impossible.

Don’t worry though even if no one else is around, park police have the memorials under constant surveillance which makes this one of the safest places to be in DC at night. If anything bad should happen, help will not be far away.

I typically try to arrive at my sunrise location about 30 minutes before the sun actually rises. That way you will see all the great predawn colors in the sky. Dress according to the weather and grab a coffee, you won’t regret it.

For the serious photographers out there, you may be wondering about tripods. For the most part they are not allowed. However if you’re photographing sunrise and there is no one else around, you could probably get away with it. I think the biggest concern is when the memorials are crowded and other people may trip over the legs. Out of all the times I’ve been out for sunrise (trust me it’s way more than I can count), I have been asked to put it away once while I was at the Lincoln Memorial. All other times other than sunrise at any of the memorials, it’s pretty much out of the question.

The United States Capitol is slightly different. Technically, it’s not the National Mall so the same rules don’t apply as they do at the memorials. There is way more security there and I’ve heard conflicting rules about tripods. The last time I spoke to a Capitol Policeman about it, he said they are allowed. However since then I’ve heard of photographer friends being asked to put it away. It seems like there is no right or wrong answer so I would just take your tripod if you want and just be respectful when photographing the grounds. The worst that will happen is that someone will ask you to put it away.

One last thing to note, I wrote a book all about photographing Washington DC. It’s called Snap DC: Your Guide to taking Extraordinary Photos of the National Mall and Beyond… and it is available on Amazon. So if you are interested in seeing more of Washington DC than just the sunrise, click here to check it out.  As an added bonus I created a 1, 3, and 5 day sample photo itinerary for your trip to Washington DC, click here to download my ideal schedule.

Now on to that sunrise…

You Can’t Go Wrong with the Reflecting Pool

In my opinion, the Reflecting Pool is the ultimate sunrise location in Washington DC.  It’s the most iconic and it is the place that I tell everyone they must go to if they have never been to the national mall and especially at sunrise. It’s the center of 4 great landmarks all within a central area. A one stop shop if you will.

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