Back in 2018, my cousin gifted me with his old film camera. It was unexpected but I am so grateful for it. It brought back many memories of when I first started in photography. At that time, there was no digital photography. Everything was on a negative film. But what had initially sparked my interest in photography was being able to go out with my friends and capturing portraits of them with my SLR camera, point and shoot, and even disposable cameras. It was just something fun for us to do and I used to love seeing pictures I took on my friend’s bedroom walls or lockers. So from that point on, everywhere I went, I had a camera on me.
Obviously with a “new camera” comes new adventures so when I got the film camera, I was excited to start experimenting with it. It’s been a while since I have used film so along the way, I’ve learned to take my time with composition and framing. I learned that each frame is precious and should not be taken for granted, especially since a roll is film is just 24 or 36 frames. Photograph the moments that really speak to you. And practice patience in creating and developing the images.
But omg, that sound of the shutter too! It instantly brought back so many memories.
So I thought it would be fun to go through some images that I’ve taken in the past year or so with my Canon T70 and 35-70mm lens. By the way, none of these images on this post have been edited. I may or may not edit them in the future, but for now, it’s just fun seeing the results of the film.
My first set of images were taken in August 2018. I brought it on a peach picking trip with me and it was really just to see if the camera was working if there were any light leaks and a refresher on how to use film. I’m sorry to say that I forgot what kind of film these were captured on. I tried going through my Amazon orders and I don’t see any film listed. It may have just been some old rolls of film my cousin had in his camera bag. Although it’s a little fuzzy, this roll of film got me excited to start shooting again.
Delaplane, Virginia August 2018
Nowadays, I find myself researching different kinds of film and cameras, just to see what’s out there. I love watching youtube videos of other photographers getting great images with their analog cameras. I have to admit though, it’s a little hard for me to capture film images. I have my digital camera which I love, but it’s hard to balance the time between my digital and film camera. I spend most of my time shooting on my digital camera because I’m so used to it that sometimes I’ll even forget that I have a film camera on me.
It has helped to go on photo outings that are dedicated to just film. I’ll leave my digital camera at home and I love the feeling of roaming with such light equipment. Since I don’t have additional lenses or equipment for my film camera, it has been a nice change of pace to just have one camera with one lens.
Kodak UltraMax 400: San Diego, California January 2019
Kodak UltraMax 400: San Diego, California January 2019
I am extremely grateful for my friend, Jim. He was my photography mentor when I interned at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum while I was in high school. We’ve been able to reconnect through social media which was really cool when we found each other! Last year, he was kind enough to give me a whole bunch of expired Portra film 400 and 800 rolls of film. It has been so fun to try to go through all the rolls. I’m nowhere near completing them, but to see how the expired film develops has been super interesting.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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*
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.
Going through some old images, I found a couple of interesting images from my visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum back in 2017. Growing up in the Washington DC area, this museum was one of those that had a huge impact on me. I may have been too young, but I just remember being so scared of this museum. I think at that age, I probably did not know how to communicate what I was feeling and all those feelings just turned into fear. Ever since then, I sort of avoided the museum.
Fast forward to 2017 and growing up to be an adult, I can now appreciate the museum. If we’re just looking at it from an architectural standpoint, it is beautiful and so unique. My favorite are all the skylights in the entrance of the museum that lights up the main hallway.
From an educational standpoint, I think this museum does an amazing job of showing just how horrible this period of time was. There are so many images and artifacts that it’s difficult to leave the museum unscathed. So if you do plan on going, be warned that you won’t leave the same person.
My camera settings for this image are F6.3 at 1/500th sec and ISO 400 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm.
If you know me, you know I love a good rooftop. So when I got invited to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s rooftop, I was like “What?? They have a rooftop?”
Obviously I had to accept the invitation and see it for myself. I had no idea what to expect when I went to the museum. If I’m going to be 100% honest, it was actually my first time in that museum. I have been to EVERY other museum on the mall except for this one. I have no idea why I’ve never been, it’s just one of those things unexplainable things in life I guess.
So as soon as I stepped foot on the rooftop, I was amazed. It was perfect timing for a beautiful sunset and I couldn’t believe the view. I mean how cool is it to see the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture so close but at an elevated view? I love all the hard edges along with soft curves in this image. I would have never expected this. To the left was another very cool view of the Washington Monument.
Turns out, the American History museum just opened up the rooftop this past March for events. So if you’re getting married anytime soon, may I suggest this rooftop. It is STUNNING. #eventsatamericanhistory
My camera settings for this image are F9 at 1/40th second and ISO 320 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm lens.
It may seem a little premature, but I’ve already started thinking about updates I need to do for my Washington DC Cherry Blossom guide. I definietly want to make it a habit to update it every year, especially as the spring season approaches. So the other day while I was going through some of my older images and I came across some from the National Gallery of Art.
Although there aren’t as many cherry blossom trees there and they are significantly skinnier, these are some of my favorites in the city. The reason being that when you go, you’re usually the only one with these blossoms and I just love the backdrop. The National Gallery of Art is such a beautiful building all on it’s own but when you combine that with the cherry blossom trees. Um can you say, magic? LOL. That may be exaggerating a little but I love shooting there. Last year may have been my third year in a row but it honestly never disappoints.
For this image I really wanted to keep this one with a monochrome look. Nothing too dramatic or standout-ish. Just a simple image of beautiful flowers with a simple background. Visiting the National Gallery of Art is probably one of the only ways to accomplish something like that. With all the people around the cherry blossoms, the trees being so close to each other and just the way they are planted, it would be very difficult to do the same at the Tidal Basin. Unless of course, you’re shooting in fog *heart eye emoji*
So if you have any questions about the cherry blossoms around the Washington DC area, please let me know. It will definietly help me update the cherry blossom guide.
My camera settings for this image is F5.6 at 0.4 sec and ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.
This is a portrait of my friend, Albert from one of Artechouse’s installations earlier this summer. I love it because of the cool lights in the background, the color, the mood but my favorite part of this image is because it is of Albert.
I’ve known him from a few years now and have been following him on instagram even longer than that. But it hasn’t been until the past year where I have really gotten to know him. We’ve spent some beautiful mornings together taking pictures and have spent some amazing evenings together talking and laughing. We have a lot of things in common, one of the main things being photography but he just inspires me so much every time we get together. I am always amazed by his images but what I love most about him is that he is not afraid to be himself. I mean look at this!
But because of him, my interest in street photography and portraiture has grown so much. Even when I’m standing right next to him, he can see things that just pass me by. He has taught me to be more patient, not care what anyone else thinks and I appreciate him so much for that.
To be honest, I don’t think he reads my blog or will ever know that I’m writing this about him. But I just would like him to know how much he inspires me to be me and how much I value his friendship. Thank you, Pootie! Hope we can get together soon after I get back from California to catch up and take more pics <3
My camera settings for this image is F4.0 at 1/500th of a second at ISO 5000 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens. Have I mentioned how much I love this camera in low light situations?