tidal basin

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Even in the middle of January, I’m already starting to get questions about cherry blossoms season in spring. Actually, I started receiving them in December! Props to all of you early planners out there who want to make sure they capture my favorite time in Washington DC. Seriously, cherry blossom season is the best time to be in the Capital. I don’t blame you.

Even with all my experience shooting the blossoms, it’s still very difficult to predict when they’ll actually bloom. I usually say beginning of April will be your best bet, but I’ve seen them as early as late March and as late as mid April. They don’t last too long either. From what I’ve seen a week to a week and a half tops. I remember one year we may have only had 3 good days with the flowers before they all fell off due to rain we got. They’re fragile flowers so don’t be disappointed if you planned so much to see them and you don’t. They honestly really hard to plan for.

But for those of you wondering, I created this guide. Hope this helps. I try my best to update it every year and plan on doing so this year when we’re closer to the dates. I like to update it with what NPS has forecasted as peak bloom, new changes and developments, etc.

I have also dedicated a whole chapter in Snap DC about photographing the cherry blossoms. You can never have too much cherry blossom info, am I right? So if those two resources don’t help, let me know and I’ll try my best to answer any questions you may have.

My camera settings for this image is F8 at 1/25th sec at ISO 400 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens. 

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

2019! WOW. Not to total ignore 2019 but everytime I think 2019, I can’t help but think 2020 is just around the corner and that is just bananas to me. Like can you imagine people saying that they were born in 2020? The number is just crazy to me. P.S. Where are the flying cars at?

Anyways…

Much like my top travel images of 2018, I like to reminisce and look back on my favorite images from Washington DC from the past year. It makes me feel so fortunate to live in the Nation’s Capital. I love being able to hop in my car and within minutes be among some of the most recognizable and loved landmarks in the world. I feel extremely blessed and look forward to another year of capturing more images.

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. In no particular order except chronological, here are my favorite images of 2018.

fog, tidal basin, winter, weather, umbrella, stranger, candid, washington dc, national mall, moody, cherry blossom trees, trunk, photowalk,

This day was definietly a highlight of the winter season. I remember we had some crazy foggy mornings but on this particular day, the fog happened in the middle of the day. Oh yea, it was raining too. Luckily, it was on a Sunday and I didn’t have much else going on. So what better way than to walk around the National Mall than with my friend, Birch. I still love how everything lines up in this image, even the little reflection you see in the puddle behind the lady is so interesting to see.

Click here to read more

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So after all the color burned off, I was walking back to my car when I noticed that the Martin Luther King Jr memorial was looking especially glow-y. I kind of have this habit of not putting my camera away right away but it’s for moments like this. I thought I was done shooting for the morning but realized that the sun had risen enough that it was casting it’s early morning light on the memorial making it an orange-yellow color. I love when that happens. I tried several different angles but loved this one when I walked to the side to find the Washington Monument and the Martin Luther King Jr memorial lineup with each other. I intentionally photographed this making it look like the two memorials were touching.

In other news, it’s only Tuesday and I’m already looking forward to the weekend. Andrew and I will be visiting New York for a quick birthday getaway. His birthday, not mine. It seems like we take trips to New York several times a year but this year has been so crazy that this is going to be my first time all year. I love that city and really looking forward to just walking around, taking pics and eating delicious food. If you have any NYC recommendations, let me know! We always try to do different things each trip so any tips would be extremely helpful.

Andrew did say that we can go to B&H though. I can’t wait. For some reason I’ve never been but I always had the impression that they aren’t open on the weekends. Since we usually just go for the weekends I never even bothered. Turns out they’re just not opened on Saturdays, so guess what we’re doing Sunday 🙂

My camera settings for this image is F6.3 at 1/125th sec and ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm handheld.

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If you asked me my favorite time of day to photograph Washington DC, it has to be sunrise. Hands down, no questions asked, absolutely the best. Yes, the early wake up time can be a little brutal especially in the long summer months but it is so worth it. I love the alignment of where the sun rises among the monuments as opposed to where it sets from. It gives off this amazing warm glow on the memorials that’s hard to get at sunset. Plus there is this overwhelming feeling of peace and calm in a city that’s usually hustling and bustling during the day. At sunrise you’re more likely to get images with no one in them while at sunset it’s nearly impossible.

Whether you’re traveling or live within the DC Metro area, I highly recommend you try to make your way down to the National Mall early in the morning at least once. I typically try to arrive at my sunrise location about 30 minutes before the sun rises. That way you will see all the great predawn colors in the sky. Dress according to the weather and grab a coffee, you won’t regret it.

For the serious photographers out there, you may be wondering about tripods. For the most part they are not allowed. However if you’re photographing sunrise and there is no one else around, you could probably get away with it. I think the biggest concern is when the memorials are crowded and other people may trip over the legs. Out of all the times I’ve been out for sunrise (trust me it’s way more than I can count), I have been asked to put it away once while I was at the Lincoln Memorial. All other times other than sunrise at any of the memorials, it’s pretty much out of the question.

The United States Capitol is slightly different. Technically, it’s not the National Mall so the same rules don’t apply as they do at the memorials. There is way more security there and I’ve heard conflicting rules about tripods. The last time I spoke to a Capitol Policeman about it, he said they are allowed. However since then I’ve heard of photographer friends being asked to put it away. It seems like there is no right or wrong answer there so I would take your tripod if you want and just be respectful when photographing the grounds.

One last thing to note, I wrote a book all about photographing Washington DC. It’s called Snap DC: Your Guide to taking Extraordinary Photos of the National Mall and Beyond… and it is available on Amazon. So if you are interested in seeing more of Washington DC than just the sunrise, click here to check it out.  As an added bonus I created a 1, 3, and 5 day sample photo itinerary for your trip to Washington DC, click here to download my ideal schedule.

Now on to that sunrise…

The Lincoln Memorial

In my opinion, this is the ultimate sunrise location in Washington DC.  It’s the most iconic and it is the place that I tell everyone they must go if they have never been to the national mall and especially at sunrise. It’s the center of 4 great landmarks all within a central area. A one stop shop if you will.

Click here to read more

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Here’s something interesting. The other day I was having trouble sleeping so I started surfing the internet. One thing lead to another and I ran across this article from the Google blog. I’m a month late, but I thought this was interesting enough to share. Turns out google now can credit the creator of images in google image searches! This is such amazing news. I personally know that a lot of my images have been shared without proper credit on social media so I can only imagine where they have ended up.

Click here to read the google article.

Like, yes I did take that image of the Tidal Basin at sunrise. Thank you google for the image credit! LOL. This image was taken on the same day as this image and this image. Isn’t it amazing how much the sky can change in about 30 minutes? The image previously blogged were when I first arrived at the Tidal Basin however this one was taken when I was about to leave. The water level was still really high but the it was the cloud formations that really caught my eye at that time. By the time the sun came out, it turned all the clouds orange. An explosion of color like no other!

My camera settings for this image is F16 at 1/125th sec and ISO 1000 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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Always on the hunt for new compositions around the National Mall, I found this one a while ago. However it was one of those things where I couldn’t get it right and wanted to try again until I came out with something I was happy with. Last week I was a bit early for sunrise so I thought I would take my time walking around Kutz bridge. It was about 6a (sunrise is close to 7:30a now!) so there were plenty of people driving around. I figured this was the perfect opportunity to try some cool long exposures.

I started off on top of the grail. You can’t tell but you can get some pretty cool reflections off of it from the tail lights as the cars drive past. The reflections were cool but I still wasn’t happy with the composition. That image will probably be one of those that I go back to and try again. So I decided to get down a little lower and actually put my camera on the ground to capture the light trails. This turned out so much better. I love how the grail is dividing the image in to two parts but the way that the clouds have formed and the angle of the car lights make it all look like everything is pointing to the center of the image. It is such a yin yang type photo with the dark shadows on the left and bright light from the street lamp on the right.

One of my favorite things about the Sony cameras is that you can tilt up your LCD screen so it’s much easier to see what your camera is seeing without having to bend all the way over.

My camera settings for this image is F8 at 6 seconds at ISO 320 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.