It’s been a while since I’ve photographed the World War II Memorial in Washington DC. Sometimes the fountains aren’t on in the mornings and in the evening, it can get really packed with visitors. And especially on hot days, people like to soak their feet in the water. So for a while, I just pretty much skipped the entire memorial and went straight for the Washington Monument or Lincoln Memorial.
But I’m glad I went back!
I was out with my friend, Birch just walking around and talking when she asked if we could stop by the memorial. There had been a shot that she’s been wanting to get but never was able to. Of course, I said yes, so while she was trying to get her shot, I sat down on the steps to capture this one. I loved how the fountains looked like they were right by the Lincoln Memorial but I loved the silhouettes the Lincoln Memorial was helping to create. So I just sat there waiting for the precise moment to capture somebody walking by without too many other people in the foreground. I like the way it came out because there are just so many different layers to look at. And especially if you’re familiar with this memorial, you know there’s at least a good 2,000 ft between the World War II Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.
My camera settings for this image is F4 at 1/30th sec and ISO 4000 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Last but not least is my favorite image in the whole series. I took this image at the very end of my time shooting sunrise at the National Mall. As you can see I started this week off right outside the Lincoln Memorial, then I went inside, then back to the reflecting pool, and went up the stairs to go to the Lincoln and ended right back inside the Lincoln Memorial. The whole hour I out shooting the sunrise I just walked back and forth between the two landmarks. So instead of coming out with one image, I was able to come out with 5 really cool images that I love. So next time you go out to photograph any location, I hope you keep this series in mind. I think it is a cool example of how many different perspectives you can get if you just keep walking.
By this point the sun was fully out and shining bright inside the Lincoln Memorial. My natural tendencies would lead me to go right but this time I felt the need to go left. I began photographing President Lincoln through the columns but I wasn’t happy with the images that were coming out. I was about to leave when I stopped in the corner of the interior and noticed all the amazing shadows the columns were creating. To be honest, I waited for about 15 minutes for someone to show up. Some kind of foreground element to make this image a little more interesting. The closest thing that I got was the shadow figure on the left hand side. Someone who looked like they were about to come in but for some reason did not. Either way, I still love all the lines and repetition in this image.