In an effort to push me out of my comfort zone and try something new, I did something that I never thought I would ever do. I left my house around 8:45 pm and drove all the way to the Shenandoah Mountains ALL BY MYSELF AT NIGHT!
I’m not sure what got me to do this but I was just craving a new challenge and just a different type of photography than I’m used to. I say that I thought I’d never do it because I never thought I’d have the courage to go into the mountains all by myself AT NIGHT. I don’t know about you, but I get freaked out about all these animal noises I’ve never heard before. But luckily, I pulled myself through it and I am so excited to go back again for another round!
I captured these at the Jeremy’s Run Overlook (I THINK), just a few overlooks away from the Thorton Gap Entrance into Shenandoah Park. Since I got there at night, it was pretty difficult to find out a foreground element. My first idea was to try to get myself in the image. But figured it would need more light, so I had to coordinate my interior car lights with my cellphone acting like I was taking a picture of the milky way with my phone. It was a fun experiment but moved on to the most obvious foreground in front of me, this crazy branchy tree.
I am very happy with the way both of these turned out. I think in all my years of photography, I’ve only tried to capture the milky way a hand full of times. I was not so confident with my focus, but in the end, I think it turned out pretty good. *pats on the back
My camera setting for the self-portrait is F2.8 at 3.2 seconds at ISO 3200 with my Sony A7II and 35mm lens. My camera settings for the tree image are F1.8 at 13 seconds at ISO 3200 with my Sony A7II and 35mm lens.
Also, some exciting camera equipment upgrades coming soon 🙂
Virginia was issued the initial stay at home order on March 30th, 2020 due to the Coronavirus. It didn’t come as a surprise but it was still something that I had to mentally prepare for. Honestly, one of my first thoughts about it all was, “How am I going to go and take pictures?” Not only is photography fun for me, but it is my way of exploring places, finding stories, and expressing myself. In the past, the longest I had ever gone without taking pictures was a week. I already knew the stay at home order was going to be tough.
The world was a rapidly changing place and I was craving to capture it. Here’s are the images I created in the first two months:
Covid-19 really started being a concern in the Washington DC area just before the cherry blossom season. We had an unusually mild, dry winter that allowed the cherry blossoms to bloom a bit earlier in the year than they usually do. So I was excited to be able to visit the Tidal Basin with a bit less of a crowd since travel was in the process of slowing down and social distancing was starting to become a new term. I tried to go as much as I could until it started to get too crowded. When it got to be too much, I decided to just stay home and be happy with the images I was able to create. My logic was to take as many pictures as I could until it got to be unsafe and then spend quarantine editing them.
Weekdays at sunrise are really the best times to visit the Tidal Basin during cherry blossom season, Coronavirus or not.
The last day I was at the Tidal Basin when it started to get a little too crowded
The cherry blossom trees are smaller at the Washington Monument, but still just as beautiful. I tried capturing a few images from there since it’s a larger area to roam.
Cherry blossom trees are seen from the George Mason Memorial
Mt Vernon Trail/Georgetown
That weekend, Andrew and I decided that we should try to get out “one last time” before we had to stay home. We decided that the Mount Vernon trail would be a good place to go and stretch our legs. Andrew walked Frankie on the trail which allowed me to take my camera and capture a few images as well.
At the cherry blossom peak bloom, but the pink flowers came out a little hazy in the fog.
(L) A quick stop in Georgetown along the Key Bridge. (R) Views of the Washington Memorials are seen all along the Mount Vernon Trail.
So this is where my real pandemic images begin. It had been about 1.5-2 weeks since our walk on the Mount Vernon trail and I was going crazy. I had never purposely taken such a long break from taking pictures, and it was not making me feel good. I was really craving creativity, seeing what this new world looked like, and just to walk around with my camera. So I started locally. I mean really local since I live within a few blocks from the metro. I figured with public transportation being at an all-time low, it was probably the safest and most isolated I would ever see it.
I hope you all had a happy and safe night last night. 2019 was a great year for me and my travel bucket list. I am so lucky to have been able to travel to new places, destinations to see family I hadn’t seen in years and revisit some places I’ve been to in the past and relive some beautiful memories. I’m already thinking about all the places I want to go to in the new year. HAHA
Similar to yesterday’s post about my favorite images from Washington DC, these are my personal favorite images I’ve taken on my travels. They are in no special order but chronological. And I added a few more comments about each of the images now. Feel free to click on each of the images to see my original blog post.
For the past two years, Andrew and I had celebrated the New Year in San Diego, California. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen this year but I really hope to visit Southern California sometime later this year. One of my favorite parts about visiting is being able to fly my drone whenever I want. By the end of this trip, I was flying my drone so much more than taking pictures with my actual camera. One of the best parts is being able to fly over places that would be difficult to see. For example, this image is of my cousin getting ready to get some morning surf in.
When I was young, my mom would take me to visit Las Vegas every summer. I always loved visiting because I always thought that her sister, my aunt, lived in the coolest city in the world. At that time, Las Vegas was a lot more family-friendly, but it’s just as fun visiting now as an adult. So when we visited in February it was around the time of Chinese New Year. It was pretty cool to see how each of the casinos celebrated the holiday. This was taken outside the Bellagio hotel. I don’t remember if this was a water fixture, fountain or what, but it was just an open area of water that had a perfect reflection of the red lanterns. Another highlight of that trip? Visiting the Neon Museum for the first time.
I mentioned this before, but I thought our trip to Chicago was very successful from a photography standpoint (and pizza standpoint too). I came back from that trip with so many images I loved. So many more than what I’ve included in this travel photography post because I wanted to limit myself and only put my absolute favorites. But this image of Cloud Gate is definitely on the top. I absolutely love that glow that’s coming from the sun rising and hitting the bottom of the sculpture. Plus that lady standing in the middle is perfect.
As far as Chicago city photography, I went on the trip knowing that parking garages are a great place to go to get some nice vantage points. For this particular spot, people are usually facing to the right to photograph some L trains from above. But I thought the view on the left was really interesting as well. I really liked how all the light posts lined up. So I made it a point to look in both directions while I was taking pictures from this garage. Luckily, I turned my head at the right moment to see these pedestrians walking almost in the same pattern as the light posts, all wearing dark colors. This moment could have not been planned more perfectly.
3 days in Turks and Caicos was not enough. I spent most of the days relaxing under a beach umbrella and it was amazing. I love the calming sounds of the water and ocean breeze. UGH thinking about it now makes me really miss it since it’s so cold here on the east coast right now. At least I have these images to remind me just how beautiful the world is. I captured this image in the morning time. I try to be considerate of other people’s feelings towards drones so I knew if I had it out later in the day, there would be more chances of people not liking it on the beach. So in crowded places, I try to fly as early in the day as possible. But I just love the contrast of the blue water and pink umbrellas in this image. The shadows of the palm trees and people walking past were not expected but I think really adds to the image.
I still can’t believe how many cameras I had with me on this trip. For such a short trip, I had 5 cameras, if you include my iPhone. At any given moment, I had at least two cameras with me. So this image was taken with my GoPro. I love that little camera, especially for underwater photography. You can get so creative with all the different mounts. So I bought this FiftyFifty Dome specifically for this trip but the secret for me for capturing this image was putting the camera on timelapse mode and selecting the best one from the entire series. I’d love to do more images like this next time I’m at a beach.
The Presidents Heads in Croaker, Virginia has been on my list to visit forever. I actually have been wanting to go to this abandoned field for some time that this was actually my second attempt ongoing. The first time didn’t work out. But it’s ok because this second trip made it all worth it. I loved going there with my photography friends and capturing the Presidents Heads at sunset and night time. It made the whole experience so much more memorable. PS. I also heard they’re filming an episode of Walking Dead here soon. I’ve stopped watching the series but I will definitely be on the lookout for that episode. That’s going to be so cool.
My very first time visiting Oregon was amazing. I loved, loved, loved the coast and I can’t wait to go back again. And I was super happy when I found this framing. It was taken at Ecola State Park around sunrise time. I had to step back a little bit to find it and I believe this was one of the last images I captured from this viewpoint. I also think that the memory of showing this image to my mom and her saying that she liked this image because it reminded her of a Chinese watercolor painting also makes me like this image even more.
On our third morning along the coast, Andrew, Frankie and I woke up and went for a walk on the beach. This was actually taken on my birthday, so it makes it even more special. But I decided to take my drone out and fly it for a bit. I had every intention of capturing the haystack and ocean but wasn’t really happy with what I was getting. When I was about to land the drone, I flew it above us and saw all the long shadows the sun was creating. I loved the way it turned out, especially with the lines on the beach and how simple everything is. Its one of those images that is probably more sentimental than anything else. And if you’re wondering about the 4th shadow, that’s my camera bag. LOL.
On a last-minute road trip, my friend Sue and I decided to visit Falling Water in Pennsylvania. We booked an Airbnb in a town that was close by and had a great time visiting the surrounding areas. If you know me, I’m an early bird. My internal alarm clock woke me up super early. Like 30 minutes before my alarm went off, so I decided to take advantage of the early morning and tried to find somewhere to take pictures. I had planned to go to a waterfall, but I didn’t make it because this morning fog was distracting me. I found myself pulling over every 10-15 minutes taking pictures. Unfortunately, I left my drone in the Airbnb or else that would have made for some EPIC foggy shots.
Since we’re about a 4-hour drive to New York, I try to make it a point to visit at least once a year. This time we visited, I went to my very first photo expo, PhotoPlus. The expo was very impressive and a little overwhelming. Regardless, being in the city is always a good time. On our last day in New York, it rained a lot. But that didn’t stop us from getting our last meal in the city, soup dumplings. Luckily, Chinatown was amazing for these rainy day vibes. I loved how everyone was carrying around an umbrella and didn’t seem to mind the bad weather.
Is it me or is Central Park hard to photograph? Whenever I think of the park, I always think of how big and crowded it is. It’s a little overwhelming and intimidating if you ask me. So I was really happy with the way this image turned out. A little moment of peace with some Candian Geese. That rhymed. But my favorite part about the image is the framing and the yellow leaves around the bottom of the image. It just creates so much more depth that I think is needed in this image. I also think of Home Alone 2 when I think of Central Park, but that’s a different story. LOL.
The streets of Taipei are crowded! Even waking up before sunrise, you’ll always find people on the streets. It’s pretty crazy how noisy it can get, not necessarily from cars honking but just all the different types of cars engines on the road. From trucks to cars to scooters, you really gotta watch out while walking the streets. But I took full advantage of a busy street in Taipei and waited for this moment to happen. I saw this lady standing on the corner of a crosswalk, right by the taxis. I knew if I waited long enough, some taxis would cross in front of me and create this intersection of yellow. What I didn’t notice while I was capturing the moment was all the yellow in the signs too. I love it when things like this just work out!
Right before my trip to Taiwan, I got my first prime lens! I almost immediately fell in love and probably had that lens on my camera about 70% of the time I was traveling. I can’t even describe how it simplifies street photography and finding moments like this is so much easier to capture. There were a lot of images that I captured with that lens, but this one is probably one that sticks out the most because I just love that slice of light coming from the corner of the image.
I grew up visiting Taiwan. As I’ve gotten older, the visits have become less frequent but each time I go, I am reminded of so many memories while visiting in the past that I think I grow a greater appreciation for it. This time was even more special because it was going to be the last time I saw my grandfather on my mom’s side. He was 103 years old! I’m so grateful for the time we went because I got to see him while he was still healthy. I hadn’t mentioned it in the past, but he had a stroke during our visit and passed away soon after I came home. I’m grateful to have the last memories of him while he was healthy and to have been able to help him in the hospital. I was considering sharing some images I captured of him during the beginning of our trip, but not sure if I really will on my blog…
But with all that said, I created so many amazing memories this past year. A lot of them came from my travels and I could not be more grateful for the opportunities. There were moments that made me laugh hysterically and moments that made me cry. 2019 will be hard to forget. But it makes me so excited to see what’s in store for 2020 and all the images that still need to be created. Thank you all so much for following along on my journey.
What’s on your travel list for 2020? and HAPPIEST NEW YEAR!!!
I got home from Taiwan the night before Thanksgiving. After 10 days in Taipei, I had mixed feelings about coming home. I was there visiting family, but when I wasn’t with them, I was free to roam the city alone with my camera. I don’t think I’ve ever felt such freedom in a foreign country and I really got to appreciate all the things that make Taipei such a great city.
I’ve visited many times when I was younger. I want to say at least once a year while I was in elementary school. As I got older, the visits became less frequent and the last time I was there was 2014. However walking through some of the same streets during this visit, I was still able to remember some of the places I used to shop or eat at. It brought back so many wonderful memories but also made me want to create new ones. I know in my heart that this will not be the last time I visit.
This image was taken just a few blocks from our hotel. I’m in a big group chat with a bunch of my girlfriends and one of them asked me for a picture of me in Taiwan. After a few days of being there, I realized I hadn’t taken any with myself in it, so when I walked passed this mirror, I thought it was the perfect opportunity for the self-portrait. I love how you can only see my camera, but also gives the context of where I am.
My camera settings for this image are F9 at 1/160th sec and ISO 250 with my Sony A7II and 35mm lens.
The day I wrote this blog post about fall foliage, I create a fall photo to-do list. On that list were my usual spots like Great Falls Park, the Tidal Basin, Shenandoah National Park, etc but I also added some places I’ve never been to. Falling Water in Pennsylvania and Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia were top of that list. It’s amazing how it all played out because the universe was definitely listening to me that day and, by the end of the day, I had made plans to visit both of those places I’ve never been to that weekend.
So I’m home after a long weekend full of fall adventuring. I probably got a little ahead of myself because there wasn’t much color change in either of the places I visited, but it was great to do a little photo scouting and I can never really complain when I have a camera in my hand.
This image is actually taken outside the visitor center at the Flight 93 Memorial in Somerset County, PA. We stopped on our way home from Falling Water and it was definitely an emotional experience. But to document I was actually there, I took this reflective self-portrait that was 100% inspired by Vivian Maier who was an amazing street photographer and she would take these sorts of portraits as well. I thought this image turned out interesting with the lines in the glass but it is also very moody, which was how I felt while I was there.
My camera settings for this image is F6.3 at 1/1000th sec and ISO 320 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.
I remember I took this on a Sunday evening. I knew the sunset wasn’t going to be great, color wise, but I just wanted to get out there and go for a walk with my camera. It could have been the 4 slices of pizza I ate prior to the photowalk, but it was just so nice to be out in fresh air and doing what I love doing.
And PS Thank you Thank you Thank you to everyone who has ordered Snap DC so far. I am LOVING all the pictures you’re sending and all the feedback. You seriously made my whole year already. I don’t know how long this is going to last for but Amazon actually dropped the price of the book. I had no idea that they were going to do that so the original price was $29.69 and now its on sale for $24.78. So if you haven’t already, I’d get your copy of the guide now.