national park service

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What do you do when the cherry blossom flowers have fallen? If you’re at the National Mall around the Tidal Basin, you find any way possible to gather and collect them. It was fun because I saw the NPS people use shovels and snow blower to pile them all up. Pretty much by any means possible.

But I kinda felt like a creeper because I followed them all around the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial with my camera just so I could capture this scene. I just couldn’t help myself. It was so beautiful. I already love it when the petals are  falling from the trees, they look so delicate and fragile. The snow blowers created a similar effect but x 3000. It was the coolest thing ever.

So when I captured this image, I actually had the person snow blowing the petals in the frame. In the end, I thought it was a little more mysterious cropping them out and removing all context. It just looks like a pink snow globe to me an I love it. You don’t get to see scenes like this very often.

It also makes you wonder though. Can you imagine how insane it would be if they didn’t pick it up? Just look at how much is on this little part of the wall and floor alone. That’s definietly a huge slipping hazard for when it rains. So thank you, NPS!

My camera settings for this image is F4.0 at 1/1250th sec and ISO 1000 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom.

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Today is the day! The day that the National Park Service announces their Cherry Blossom predictions for peak bloom. It’s not always accurate but it is a great way to gage if they will bloom early or late this year. With the amount of rain and snow we received this past winter, I’m guessing that it will be a little bit later than earlier. Don’t quote me on this but if I had to guess, I’m going to guess they are going to peak the end of the first week of April until the second week of April. But that’s the thing about cherry blossoms. They don’t last too long. I’d say about 10 days max but typically a week. If during that week we receive rain or a big gust of wind, forget it. Those flowers are gone. In the past, I’ve seen them peak as early as the end of March. We had an unusually warm winter that year and it confused everyone, including the cherry blossom trees. So my prediction is purely based on how cold I’ve been this winter. LOL.

This image was taken last year during cherry blossom season at the National Gallery of Art.
Pro tip– if you want to get away from the crowds, the NGA or even the US Capitol are both great places to check out the beautiful flowers with less people.

And if you find yourself booking a trip to Washington DC to check out the peak bloom, check out the cherry blossom guide I have been updating every year. It should have everything you need to know about the beautiful trees. If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.

My camera settings for this image is F5 at 0.6 sec and ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 28-70mm lens.

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Today is the day! Today is the day that the National Mall NPS will announce their predicted peak bloom date for the cherry blossoms. I can’t wait. I’ve been on twitter everyday this week checking out what they say and what Capital Weather Gang has to say about the weather we’ve been having and how they’d effect the Cherry trees. As a side note, I’m pretty sure I just gained 10 cool points from that last statement. LOL. As of now, I’m just excited for the big announcement!

PS. Today is also the day that my March monthly newsletter goes out. If you haven’t already, make sure to sign up. I have a couple of really exciting announcements of my own that I’ll be announcing on the newsletter first!

Ok, now back to the image on this blog post. This was taken last year, early morning on a particularly beautiful day. It was the day after it rained and it created these amazing puddles all along the Tidal Basin sidewalks. It also rained so hard that there were flower petals all over the place and it felt like you were walking in a wet wonderland of pink. I had my headphones in, rain boots on, and I was having a blast walking around capturing the beautiful trees. It was just by accident that I captured the airplane flying by but I think it makes it a little more interesting to see. I also remember having to wait a little while for this area to clear because there was a big group of people standing underneath the trees taking pictures. It was well worth it because I love the way it turned out. However if you look closely enough, you will still see one person there still taking pictures. At least she’s a little camouflaged though. HAHA.

The settings for this image is F18 at 1/50th of a second at ISO 400 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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WoW! Time flies. I took this image almost 3 years ago in Zion National Park. It feels like yesterday that I took it because I remember so many details about being at that exact location. It was at the Canyon Junction shuttle spot and I remember driving up to it and being shocked by how many photographers had already lined up for sunset. We were at least an hour early! You can imagine parking being difficult but luckily we found a spot right off Mount Carmel Highway. I ran over as fast as I could and tried to squeeze myself and tripod in with the crowd. Andrew just stood back and watched. It was ok because pretty much anywhere you stood, you’d have a great view of the Watchman.

The sun was setting and I just remember being so excited about this image. I knew it was going to come out well. At that time, we were only in Zion for a couple of days but now that I think of it I kinda wish we came back to this spot. Not to shoot from top of the bridge again, but I remember seeing people right next to the Virgin River. I wish I knew what that view looked like. I guess that will have to be for my next visit to Utah.

Crazy how one picture can bring back so many memories, right?

Anyways, we took this in October. We were a little late for the color change on the trees but the weather was perfect. Not too hot and not too cold. It can be difficult to plan trips around nature but with that said, I’m looking to do another one this fall! I’m thinking either Maine or somewhere up North. What do you think? Have any good suggestions?

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If you’re in the DC area, its definietly worth checking out Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in the summer time. It’s absolutely beautiful. There has to be hundreds of these pink lotus flowers in the ponds and the whole area is just filled with them. A photographer and nature lover’s dream. Although, I think the flowers may be all done for this year’s season. There’s always next year!

But the gardens are only open during certain hours and those hours are not at sunrise or sunset (the ideal time to shoot). It’s in the middle of the day, which is usually difficult to shoot. Most of the time, I’d try to find flowers that were blooming under some tree shade or something like that. This one was not. So I had to use my photoshop skills to really emphasize the mood I was feeling. I wanted all the concentration to be on the flower, to be in the spotlight. So I purposely made the surrounding areas darker than they are straight out of the camera. I also used luminosity masks to brighten the flower up a little more. Just doing those two alone really made the image pop a lot more and created some great contrast.

If you’re interested in learning more about my photoshop techniques, check out these video tutorials I created. This one is about luminosity masks. This one is about my complete photoshop workflow. Even if I’m not editing this particular image in the video tutorials, the same rules and principles apply. I will have to say that these videos are for those who are already comfortable with photoshop. You already have some basic skills and you just wanted to up your skill set a little more or just watch someone else’s workflow. If you had any questions or video suggestions, don’t be afraid to let me know!

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Last week I was out shooting the sunset. The sunset was spectacular but I wasn’t in a very good spot to photograph it. I was kinda down and was ready to head back to my car. But then I turned around and saw this amazing glow on the Washington Monument. It looks like a sword in the sky, doesn’t it?