National Gallery of Art

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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.

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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.