This past weekend, my friend, Andy invited a few photographer friends out to join him for sunrise at the Lincoln Memorial. It was a super cold and windy morning, I almost didn’t make it out of my bed. But I ended up going and had a great time catching up with friends that I hadn’t seen in a while. The sunrise itself wasn’t the best so I was super surprised to see that there were so many other people at the memorial for a winter sunrise. So I figured I would try to capture some of the people who were there watching the sunrise with me. In frame is my friend, Mark.
While we were shooting, Andy also created a super fun video of all of us where we each gave one sunrise tip. Mark, myself and others were all asked on the spot and the answers are pretty funny if you ask me. Let me know which one you think has the best tip! Click here to watch the video.
My camera settings for this image are F9 at 1/320th sec and ISO 640 with my Sony A7Ii and 35mm.
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.
This image was taken after we finished our meal. Andrew and I started walking back to our car when we ducked into this little alleyway because the wind had really started to pick up and blowing the rain everywhere. We were getting soaked. So we stood under a doorway of a closed store to wait it out a little bit. Luckily, there were some other people hanging out in this alley because they were all in line for Sunday morning Dim Sum.
Rain or shine, Dim Sum is always a great Sunday morning treat! What caught my attention about this person and his umbrella was the puddle that was building up on the umbrella. I don’t know, I keep on looking at that and decided that I needed to capture it. The added bonus was all the reflections from where he was standing. The rain made everything glow.
Now I sort of wish that it will rain every time I go on a trip. LOL.
My camera settings for this image are F4 at 1/100th sec and ISO 1000 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm.
So for the most part, we had beautiful weather on our trip to New York. It was pleasantly Autumn while we were there with cool weather temps but not cold enough for heavy jackets. Andrew and I couldn’t stop talking about how ideal it was because every other time we’re there it’s FREEZING.
But the day we left the city was POURING rain. As soon as I woke up in the morning, I could hear the rain pounding on our hotel room window. Good thing I was prepared with a long, heavy-ish jacket that kept me warm. Don’t get me wrong, I still got wet but it was better than having nothing at all.
So for our last meal in New York, Andrew and I went down to Chinatown for some soup dumplings. What’s better on a cold, rainy day? We made the decision that I would drive and I’d drop Andrew off in front of the restaurant so that he could put our name down in case there was a wait. That allowed me to drive around, find parking and along the way, I could stop and take some super moody images of the city with the rain. Turns out, Chinatown is PERFECT for rainy shots. I loved the mood this part of city created and it seemed like there were still so many people out with umbrellas. As soon as I saw a whole bunch of umbrellas lined up in a corner of the street waiting to cross, I knew we were in the right place.
This is probably my favorite image I captured the whole weekend we were in New York. I just love the bright red punch buggy with all the red in the signs plus the out of focus pedestrians. I don’t know it definitely brings me back to that rainy, windy Sunday.
My camera settings for this image are F4 at 1/250th sec and ISO 1000 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.
So the story behind these heads is that they were originally apart of a Williamsburg attraction called President’s Park. It started in the early 2000s and these busts were in an open-air museum type thing for people to pay to see. Unfortunately, people did not want to pay to see it so in 2010, the park closed and the heads were left to be trashed.
A man named Howard Hankins happened to help build the park but also did not want to see the busts go to waste. He bid and won them at an auction and ended up moving them to his property. I don’t think he had any real plans for them, he just didn’t want to see them destroyed. So they’re basically just sitting on his property and this is what they look like after sitting around for 9 years without any maintenance.
It’s pretty cool to see how decayed they are. I mean the details on some of these heads were incredible. I wanted to add an image here to give you a sense of scale and to sort of see how they are laid out. To the right of the image is my friend, Zack taking pictures of one of the presidents. You can see how an average height person comes to almost the shoulder of the presidents.
Most of them are lined up in rows like this. There were 3 long rows, a few shorter rows and even fewer that just stood out. Please don’t ask me to name all of them because I definitely can’t. LOL. But I was surprised to see President Clinton and both of the Bushs’.
My camera settings for this image is F5 at 1/320th sec and ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide-angle lens.
Confused by what sights to see on your short visit to Washington DC?
There are so many monuments, memorials, and museums. Where do you even start?
If want to know the absolute best of the best things to see in Washington DC, keep on scrolling. This guide is for you!
I’ve lived in the Washington DC area my entire life and in that time I’ve gotten to know the city very well. It has changed so much in the past few years that it may be hard to keep up with all the new and fun things to see. Sometimes I even think it’s hard to keep up with all that is going on. There have been new museums, memorials and points of interest that would be fun for a solo traveler as well as families all at the same time.
So in this guide, I will share some highlights of my favorite sights as a Washington DC native and photographer.