National Gallery of Art

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If you’re anything like me then you’ve been on zoom calls at least a couple of times a week due to stay at home orders placed by the government. It’s hard not to be able to see loved ones and colleagues in real life so one of the next best things to do is hop on a video call. I’ve attended birthday cake cutting zooms, girls happy hour calls, and even photo critiques with fellow photographers. So I figured I’d spice things up a bit with a new background and wanted to share some with you. I went through my archive and found a variety of images so you can swap out your real-life background for something a little different than your living room couch.

Here are instructions from the video conferencing site, Zoom on how to change your virtual background. These images are all cropped to the recommended aspect ratio.

Free Zoom Background 1: Rawlins Park

This image was created about a week before the stay at home orders were placed in the Washington DC area. Rawlins Park in Foggy Bottom right at full peak with Saucer Magnolia trees. If being surrounded by an abundance of pink flowers is your dream, then you can make it happen with this zoom background.

Rawlins_Park_Zoom_Background_Angela B Pan

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Free Zoom Background 2: Ecola State Park

If quarantine has got you dreaming of the ocean, then this may be the perfect Zoom background for you. I visited Oregon for the first time last year and to say that I fell in love was an understatement. I captured this the first morning I was there from Ecola State Park. The perfect place to watch the sunrise over Cannon Beach and the beautiful haystacks.

Ecola_State_Park_Zoom_Background_Angela B Pan

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Free Zoom Background 3: Multiverse

Taking the Zoom name literally, I thought this may be an interesting background for your video calls. This image was created in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. Multiverse is a combination of light, sound, and video created by Leo Villareal. A Concourse walkway that connects the East and West Buildings and not to be missed if visiting the gallery.

Multiverse_Zoom_Background_Angela B Pan

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Free Zoom Background 4: US Capitol Storm

For a slightly more dramatic background, I thought this image of a lightning strike at the US Capitol could be interesting to use. Stormy times call for stormy skies?

US_Capitol_Storm_Zoom_Background_Angela B Pan

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Free Zoom Background 5: US Capitol Flowers

And for a slightly less striking image (pun intended), here’s an image from last summer at the US Capitol. I loved the way that the red flowers were framing the dome.

US_Capitol_Flowers_Zoom_Background_Angela B Pan

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I hope you enjoy these backgrounds. If you decide to use them, please send me a screenshot! I’d love to see them.

Stay safe and healthy!

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Spring is my favorite time to be in Washington DC. Birds are chirping, flowers are blooming and everyone seems to have a smile on their face. What’s not to love? It’s a special time to be in the city where tourists and locals alike flock to the famous cherry blossoms to admire their beauty.

To fully prepared, I reference this website a lot. It’s National Park Services’ Bloom watch. I think they have the most accurate up to date information about the peak bloom. They also break down the stages so that you know what you’re looking at in case you are overly eager and want to check out the trees asap.

2020 Update: National Park Service is predicting an even earlier peak bloom on March 21-24th due to this beautiful, warm weather we’ve been having. <3

So if this is your first Cherry Blossom experience in the Nation’s Capital, let me try to break it down for you…

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A couple of weeks ago, I met up with a few friends for a photo walk but with only film. I was pumped.

We met at the Hirshhorn Museum and made our way to the National Gallery of Art where we spent a good amount of time photographing each other and the area.

On the way to NGA, I was surprised at how well this turned out. I watched him get his food from the food truck and sit down at this bench to eat his hamburger. When I captured it, I knew for sure I missed it because I didn’t look through the viewfinder. I just kind of pointed and hoped everything was lined up. If I had to do it over again, I just wish I didn’t get the white plastic bag sitting next to him.

By the way, none of these images are edited. Straight from the negatives.

Film photographers in the wild! Candid portraits of Quyen and Amanda outside the National Gallery of Art.

3/4ths of the film crew, Albert, Me and Amanda. Some call us the A-team. JK. LOL.

Amanda and I originally connected because she was the photo teacher at my old high school after I graduated of course! So crazy how small the world is.

On the way to our next photo location, we found this building that had all this steam coming from its side. We obviously had to stop and capture a few photos too.

All these images were taken with my Canon T70 and expired Porta 400 film.

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This time last week, I had scheduled two meetings for the same afternoon. I like doing this so I don’t have to keep commuting back and forth more than I have to. So killing time in between the meetings, I found myself at the National Gallery of Art. It’s one of my favorite places to go to just pop in and get inspired. They always have something new and interesting going on in the exhibits, especially the East Building.

But I had so much time on my hands on this particular day that I ended up going from the East to West Building. One of my favorite parts about the gallery is the light tunnel that connects the two sides. Leo Villareal’s Multiverse is something not to be missed. It’s a beautiful light show that can be seen along the moving sidewalk. Sometimes I find myself going back and forth on the sidewalk just because the tunnel is that amazing. This time, I just captured the tunnel from the edge and patiently waited for the lights to take up the entire frame.

My camera settings for this image are F3.2 at 1/125th sec and ISO 1250 with my Sony A7II and 35mm prime lens.

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I think it’s because it’s getting to be the end of the summer but I’ve noticed that I’ve been getting a lot more questions about museums and things to do in the Washington DC area. I always have my usual suggestions like sunrise at the Lincoln Memorial or the Library of Congress for a great interior, but when people ask me about museums, I always have to mention the National Gallery of Art. Especially when photographers ask, I tell them they have to go to Multiverse.

It’s the tunnel that connects the East and West wings of the gallery, located on the very bottom level close to the gallery’s cafeteria and gift shop but it’s seriously the coolest tunnel ever. While riding along the moving walkways, the lights in the tunnel flicker on and off and create this really cool light show. In the past, I’ve always just done short, quick exposures for some reason but this time I wanted to focus on the longer exposure.

I just balanced my camera on the handrails and tried to keep it as steady as I could. This looks like some trippy experience straight out of That 70’s Show. I think the hand railing also adds an extra reflection that you can see coming out of the bottom right-hand corner that makes it look even more like you’re completely surrounded by light. Very cool.

So if you ever find yourself in the area, you gotta check out the Multiverse.

My camera settings for this image is F7.1 at 2.5 sec and ISO 320 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide-angle lens.

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Other than the Tidal Basin, it’s hard to say where my favorite cherry blossom trees are. There are so many around the city to choose from. These in particular are right in front of the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art. The building itself is just so beautiful and I like to use it as a grey backdrop to help create this monochromatic contrast between organic and structural. If I could, I would seriously spend hours just photographing this group of trees alone.

This past weekend I tried to avoid the crowds at the Tidal Basin and photographed the flowers outside the US Capitol and National Gallery of Art. If I was daring enough, I could probably spend the whole cherry blossom season outside of the Tidal Basin and just photograph the ones everywhere else. Actually That’s a really good idea. I may try that next year. It’s already too late this year because I’ve photographed them yesterday morning at the basin but NEXT YEAR! LOL but I’m up for the challenge.

PS If you’re in the area, it’s also the perfect time to check out the blooms by the US Capitol and even across the street at Lower Senate Park. The magnolias and cherry blossoms are looking beautiful. Even the ones at the Washington Monument trees are looking great. I could go on and on, there’s so many great trees all over.

My camera settings for this image is f5.6 at 1/200th sec and ISO 640 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.