They came about a week earlier than expected which worked out well because crowds were a lot more manageable. There were road closures around the tidal basin, no in-person festivals celebrating the blooms, and the Jefferson Memorial is STILL under scaffolding.
Luckily, the blossoms were as beautiful as ever. I’m glad I was able to get out there when I could. I hit up my usual spots, tested out a new camera lens, and came home with some images I was really excited about.
Since parking was really limited this year, Ohio Dr and the East Potomac Park parking lots were all closed, I had to get creative with the places I parked. Most of the time that meant parking on Jefferson Dr or Constitution Ave and walking past the Washington Monument to get to the Tidal Basin. I didn’t mind because I’ve always enjoyed these cherry trees as well. Although they aren’t as big as the ones by the Tidal Basin, they are beautiful trees that frame the Washington Monument.
Cherry blossoms usually last about a week, maybe 10 days if we have some really nice weather. However, if it rains or gets really windy, the petals start falling off the flowers and start turning into green leaves. I think most locals know this and by the time the first rainstorm hits, a lot of people will stop going to the tidal basin, but it’s probably my favorite time to go. Puddles are everywhere and I love it when the petals start flying off and land in the water and all over the ground.
I recently got a Zeiss Batis 85mm f1.8 E-mount lens for my Sony A7rIII. For the past few weeks, it’s been the main lens that I’ve been using while going out to take pictures and I have been really enjoying it so far. My first impression was that it was kind of short and stubby, but overall a great weight for an f1.8 lens and a lens I see carrying around for years to come.
If you’ve been following my work for a little while now, you’ll know that my usual go-to lens is a 70-200mm because I love the compression that I get with it. For being a prime lens, I am most impressed by the compression that I get with the 85mm.
So here are a few sample images I’ve captured using the 85mm. All of these images were taken with my Sony A7rIII in RAW and then edited using Lightroom.
It finally happened! We finally got some decent snow in the Washington DC area. I originally thought we were going to get pounded by 8-12″ of snow and I was jumping up and down from excitement. But in the end we may have gotten about 3″ if that. I’m just happy it was enough to cover the grass. I hope there will be more opportunities later on in the month for snow, but until then, I’m happy with what we got.
I don’t think he wanted his picture taken so as soon as he saw me lift my camera to my eye, he made a sharp turn for inside the Lincoln Memorial
The snow started in the middle of the night so I set my alarm clock to wake up for sunrise. I knew there wasn’t actually going to be a sunrise, but I just wanted to get out as early as I could because I love the look of fresh, untouched snow. I knew if I waited later in the day, there would be more people out and I just wanted to have a quiet morning to myself and my camera.
I started at the Lincoln Memorial, walked along the side of the reflecting pool, past the WWII memorial, and then back down the other side of the reflection pool with one last stop at the Korean War Memorial.
The path leading to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
In November 2020, I was out trying to photograph the full moon and unfortunately, clouds had a different idea. The moon was completely covered and I was just standing in the cold with my camera and 70-200mm on a tripod. I could have gone the next night when the sky would have been clear but I just was feeling so discouraged that I didn’t want to. This had been my 3rd month in a row where I wasn’t able to capture the moon. So I wanted to do something that would keep me motivated to go out and shoot.
Right then and there I came up with an idea that I should rent the biggest lens I can find. LOL.
So after discussing this idea with a few friends, I finally decided that I’d rent a 200-600mm lens. This would bring a whole new view to the city that I couldn’t even imagine. I rented it from lensrentals.com and I could not have been more excited that it actually came 3 days earlier than I had expected. So I had 10 days with the lens and I was pumped!
Images my friend, Albert captured me with the 200-600mm
My first real test came on an afternoon at the Washington Monument. It is actually the same exact place where I came up with the idea to rent the lens so it’s funny that this was the first place that I want to go to test it out.
I was blown away!
600mm ISO 250 F6.3 1/2500 on a tripod
324mm ISO 250 F6.3 1/2500 on a tripod
The compression on the lens is CRAZY. These people were at least 20 feet away from me. The US Capitol is about a mile away from the Washington Monument. But if you asked me, it seriously looks like you could just reach out and touch the people.
On October 17th, Washington DC held the 2020 Women’s March. I’m grateful to have been able to attend since my first one in 2017. A lot has changed since then. First of all, the women’s march in 2017 was in January and I remember it being pretty cold. People were walking on an icy reflecting pool and I even witnessed some people falling through the cracks. I remember crowds of people standing by the Lincoln Memorial but no one had any concern of social distancing or face masks. This was my first time attending anything like it before and I did not know much about protest/march/event photography.
For the 2020 March, I felt a lot more comfortable approaching people with my camera and I realize how my images speak louder than words. I tried my best to get unique angles while focusing on the crowd but concentrated on details that could be easily overlooked.
In general, it felt like this group of people wanted their voices heard and they were not going to back down from anything. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg passed a month prior to the march and soon after there was already a supreme court justice nominated as a replacement. These women were vocal about reproductive rights, worker’s rights, civil rights, and more.
The March started at Freedom Plaza with a kickoff rally and starting point for everyone to meet. Most everyone I saw there was wearing a face mask.
Before I knew it, everyone around me started forming into a line and somehow I ended up being at the very front of it. It was so cool how everyone just came together so quickly.
I typically read non-fiction or biographies. Books that make me feel good and inspired. Authors like Eckhart Tolle, Michael A Singer, and Brene Brown fill my bookshelf and are books that I read over and over again.
I also enjoy listening to Audible books when I’m driving or just casually walking around creating pictures. In particular, biographies where the author reads the book themselves. In that way, I feel a lot more connected to the person and comprehend them better when I can hear the inflections in their voice.
There was a point where I tried to read more books on art. But for some reason, those never really stuck with me. They weren’t about photography, but art in general. I’ve even read a book about creativity from a dance choreographer. I just didn’t connect as much with those books.
So earlier this year in March, when the Coronavirus quarantine came in place to those of us in Northern Virginia, I found way more time on my hands. I decided that I would take that time to improve my photography skills. I bought a CreativeLive membership that gave me access to such great content. Just like with Audible books, I really enjoyed listening to photographers speak about their images. I’m currently in the middle of a 24 hr Lightroom class. It so detailed and I’m learning so much every time I sit down to watch these videos.
But sometimes, I just don’t feel like being in front of a screen. I spend most of my days sitting at the desk and sometimes all I want to do is have a good book to cuddle up to and just enjoy. So, I started looking into art books again with a focus on photography.
Up until last week, I didn’t even realize how many books I’ve ordered and consumed during this quarantine. It’s so funny because I have so many more on my Amazon Wish List where I use it as a place to bookmark the books I want to get in the future. For some reason, I can’t handle having books wait for me on my bookshelf.
So in case you’re like me with a passion for photography and want to learn more about it, here are the books I’ve read in the last few months about making pictures.
The Soul of the Camera: The Photographer’s Place in Picture-Making by David duChemin
I started out on my photography book search by googling some book recommendations and somehow I stumbled onto the fact that David duChemin was having a sale on his books. I had heard of him before and knew he was a great author. I believe out of all his books I saw on Amazon, this was the one that interested me the most. I had never imagined a camera having a soul. I’ve thought about photographs having souls, the photographer obviously has a soul, but not the camera. So I picked it up.
This is a hardback book that has more images than text and a majority of the images are portraits. I’m not usually a portrait photographer but I’ve become more and more interested in incorporating people into my images. So I thought it was interesting how he has presented his ideas. I have not studied portraiture as much so I think some of the ideas he has can apply to all genres of photography considering I have heard some of them before. Others were brand new to me.
I copied down some of the more striking quotes to me. Here are a few of my favorites:
“Perfection is counter human”
“Maybe that’s why we chase perfection. Maybe we do it because it’s so much easier to define.”
“Knowledge of the subject leads to make openness, more recognition and this makes more opportunities for strong photographs.”