pink flowers

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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

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

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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Every year Washington DC welcomes millions of visitors traveling to the National Mall to take in all the sights and history. Many will start coming in the springtime to catch a glimpse of the beautiful cherry blossom trees at the Tidal Basin. They are alluring, but can sometimes be elusive. Especially when you are dealing with nature, you never know exactly when they are going to bloom or how long they will even last. In general, they will stick around for a week to 10 days. This already leaves a short window of time to see them and that doesn’t include the fact that these flowers are fragile and can fall off their branches with a sudden gust of wind or rain.

So this guide is for all you flower nature lovers who may have missed the cherry blossoms and are here to see what else the city has to offer. Don’t worry because there’s a lot! From Saucer Magnolias to Star Magnolias, Tulips and Forsythia, there is no shortage of beautiful blossoms in the city. You just have to know where to go to see them.

But if you are only interested in the cherry blossoms, I’ve got your back. Click here for the cherry blossom guide!

The National Mall:

Washington DC, especially the mall area, is a very nice area to walk. I highly suggest just taking the day to wander and get lost. There is no doubt that you will run into flowers and beautiful trees while walking around the area. Even the side streets that lead up to the Mall have pretty florets to look at. But if you’re on a time crunch, here are a few specific places to go:

Enid A Haupt Garden

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The first morning we were in Oranjestad, my friend Sue and I walked around the city. It was so cute and every turn had something new and unexpected. I loved all the colorful buildings and homes and this house was no different. It was the pink flowers that originally drew me in but then it was all the cracks and tears all along the facade that really made me want to photograph the house. I just loved all the details and really wished that I was able to walk onto the porch but there was a gate blocking us from doing that.

So I captured this image with my 16-35mm wide angle lens. As we were walking around more I felt like I wanted to capture more detailed shots of the house. I opened up my backpack, trying to dig out the 70-200mm when I noticed a cat was sitting on the porch! I had no idea it was there when I first took the picture so I tried to remain calm and quickly put my 16-35mm wide angle back on the camera before I went any further. I’m not sure what happened but the cat quickly got up and ran away 🙁 I was kind of disappointed that I wasn’t able to capture the cat like I wanted to but went back to review my images and I’m so glad I was able to capture this. It’s so funny because I didn’t even know he was there in the first place. He was a tiny little guy so I wouldn’t be surprised if you missed him the first time you looked at this image too. LOL.

My camera settings for the image is F8 at 1/800th of a second at ISO 320 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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I spent yesterday afternoon in Dumbarton Oaks photographing the wisteria there. Can I tell you that Wisteria Hysteria is a real thing? They are so beautiful in real life. I must have taken a million pics. Not really but I can not wait to look through those images. It was actually my second time there this season and I can’t get enough of that place. Ever since I visited last year with Andrew, I made a mental note that I had go in the spring. I bet fall is nice there too. Let me know if you’ve ever been in the autumn time. I wonder if there are a lot of colorful trees.

Well anyways, this image was from my first trip this season. I think my favorite part of the gardens at that time were these magnolias. They were so big and hardy (is that the right word to describe them?) that I don’t think I could hold one in one hand alone. *cat heart eye emoji* Obviously I didn’t want to touch them but I spent a significant amount of time staring up and circling these trees with my camera until I found the perfect sun flare. Love you, spring!

PS Happy Cinco de Mayo mañana. I usually don’t celebrate holidays unless it’s Thanksgiving or Mothers day or something like that, but I’ll be celebrating tomorrow. I had the best week ever! Thank you all so much for the positive feedback to Snap DC. I could not be more excited about it and I am even more excited for you to hold it in your hands! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! And yes, celebrations always include pizza 🙂

My camera settings for this image is F22 at 1/25th of a second at ISO 200 with my Sony A7II and 16-35 mm wide angle lens.

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So yesterday was one of the best days ever! I’m still trying to comedown from the high.  Andrew and I attended the Ball for the Mall and it was the most beautiful, exciting, and inspiring evening ever. Thanks again to the Trust of the National Mall for the invitation and using my images throughout the entire event. Everything was absolutely incredible. Promise I’ll share some images from the evening soon. I’m still trying to gather all my thoughts about the night.

In the meaning time, here’s a pretty picture of the cherry blossoms 🙂 LOL. Like I said yesterday, I didn’t create too many images with the Jefferson Memorial and the cherry blossoms this year. I feel like it’s been done so many times that it’s difficult to make it different. So on that same day that I managed to shoot with very low battery, I grabbed this image. Initially it was the sun burst that caught my attention, but I’m a sucker for using the cherry trees to frame subjects. My favorite is the light that’s coming through the flowers. Doesn’t it make you feel all warm inside?

This is why we need to help preserve the National Mall and other national parks across the country. So that people can appreciate beautiful scenes like this forever and ever. Government funding only goes so far. We need additional resources that will help keep the cherry blossom trees healthy and all of our monuments and memorials safe and clean. The National Mall is a unique national park because it’s located within a city. We get so much foot traffic that eventually things are going to wear and tear. Please click here to find out how you can help.

My camera settings for this image is F22 at 1/100th of a second at ISO 400 with my Sony A7II and 27-70mm handheld. 

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Ok, back to more cherry blossoms images 🙂

Another one of my goals this season was to capture the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial with the cherry blossoms. If I was going to be at the Tidal Basin, I wanted to try different things from what I typically do. Going back and looking at my images, I barely have any of the Jefferson Memorial and the cherry blossoms. So weird, right? Last year they were like peanut butter and jelly. This year it was like the Jefferson Memorial didn’t even show up to the party.

I also realized that I don’t have very many images of the Martin Luther King Jr memorial in general, let alone with the cherry blossoms. So anytime I was close or even from far away, I was trying out different compositions. I was determined to get something I liked.

This one was taken about 30 minute before sunrise. As you can see, another windy morning but I love the color combination of the pink flowers with the blueish looking sky. We got real lucky this year. We had almost two solid weeks of cherry blossoms, compared to last year when we didn’t even have a week. So I had time to play with compositions. I still haven’t gone through all the images yet, but this one stood out to me. I like how he still looks very powerful and determined with the cherry blossom framing him. Like nothing can distract him, not even pretty flowers. On the other hand, I’m the one who’s driving around and will break for pretty flowers growing in people’s yards and point them out to all my passengers. Ask Andrew. He’s not a fan of when I do that. LOL

My camera settings for this image is F5.6 at 0.6 seconds and ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 28-70mm lens on my gitzo tripod.