US capitol

Memorial day is a day to honor veterans and in years past I enjoyed doing that by attending Rolling Thunder. However, 2019 was the last year for the official event. I will miss hearing the hums of motorcycles throughout the area. It was a signal that summer is here! Although there are other ways of honoring veterans, I spent this year’s memorial day a little differently.

In the month of May 2021, Mayor Bowser proclaimed that May 31st will forever be a Day of Solidarity Against AAPI Hate in Washington DC. With so many recent hate crimes against the Asian American Pacific Islander community all over the country, I began observing a movement in the immediate area.

I found out about this rally that was happening on Memorial day and immediately looked into a way I could contribute to the event. I signed up to be a volunteer on the day of Solidarity Against AAPI and brought my camera along on this momentous day.

I arrived a little early so I could get a feel of what the event was going to be like and get my barring on to what it may look like in photographs. In the end, it was an afternoon full of inspiring speeches and performances all in the name of standing up against Asian hate.

Lee Wong, a U.S. Army veteran and elected official from West Chester Township in Ohio gave a moving speech about patriotism as the audience listens and applauds.

I may be biased but one of the best performances came from my friend, Kha. She performed her song No More and it was one of the most touching and moving songs I’ve heard in a really long time. When she found out about the shootings in Atlanta, she knew she had to do something and that something was using her talents in songwriting and performing. If you haven’t already, listen to the words and watch the music video.

Earlier this year, my cousin told me about this show on Cinemax called Warriors. Andrew and I started watching it and got immediately hooked after the first episode. After two seasons, we can’t wait for the third one to come out. It’s a really good show if you haven’t seen it.

But Father Jun, Perry Yung, came to DC to be a keynote speaker. His mix of storytelling, guitar, and flute playing was not only captivating but also very interesting to listen to. I’m so glad I got to see his speech and it was very cool to meet him in person.

Overall, the rally was an uplifting and inspiring event. I am so glad I was able to be a part of it in a little way. Hopefully, there won’t be a need for this rally anymore but in case there is, I believe it will happen every year on May 31st.

For more resources for the AAPI community:

Stop AAPI Hate

Asian Women Alliance

Asian Mental Health Collective

The Asian American Foundation

All photos available for print and licensing >

Thursday, June 10th, was a special day. I woke up early and went out to photograph the partial lunar eclipse happening at sunrise. It had been a while since I woke up at 4:30 in the morning to go take pictures so when my friends Mark and Andy invited me to go with them to the Air Force Memorial I couldn’t say no.

The first peak of the sun rising over the horizon.

The plan was to photograph the solar event as the sun was rising over the Washington DC skyline.

It was so cool to witness this particular sunrise. It was obviously very unique and just so happened to be my very first time photographing an eclipse. To be honest, I hadn’t done much research before waking up in the morning. I was just looking forward to seeing something cool.

My favorite part was seeing how bright this sun crescent got to be. It also sort of looks like cheese, or a Pacman in the sky.

partial solar eclipse, solar eclipse 2021, sunrise, washington dc, virignia, arlington

There were a handful of other photographers already at the memorial and others who were just there to watch the event. They were even prepared with solar glasses. I need to get a pair myself for next time I want to photograph an eclipse. A friend recommended these off of amazon.  Most of the time I was shooting on a tripod and through my camera’s LiveView so I didn’t have to look directly into the sun, but glancing up once in a while, I could tell that the sun was extremely powerful. A few people have asked and I did not shoot with a lens filter. I mostly exposed for the sun which made the foreground really dark and lightened everything up in Lightroom.

The eclipse was visible for about 20 minutes before it hid behind the clouds.  So we packed up our things and created a few shots of the Air Force Memorial before heading out. Overall it was a great morning out and well worth the early wake-up alarm. Can’t wait for the next one in 2024!

All photos available for print and licensing >

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.

ISO 160 f2.5 1/4000th sec 85mm

Click here to read more

Flashback to January 2021 in Washington DC. At the time, I had no idea things would change so much around the city. The new year started off quiet but there was a buzz around the city with the upcoming inauguration. What was it going to be like with COVID? We had already watched the Inauguration flags and setup starting months prior, were people going to be allowed to attend? How would they regulate the crowd?

However, on January 6th protestors stormed the US Capitol in an event as we had never seen before. My eyes were glued to the television screen and my jaw on the floor as to how this could all have happened. It left a feeling of uncertainty, disbelief, and overall tension in the city. I was planning on going downtown later that evening to work on a photo project, but with the storming of the Capitol, that would not have been possible. So I made the plan to head down first thing the next morning. After I was done taking pictures for the project, I could not help but to drive around the US Capitol to see what it looked like.

I’ve spent hundreds of hours at this location photographing the sunrise, sunset, lighting strikes, past inaugurations, attended photo walks, and created some great memories on the grounds. I just could not believe how different it looked after one day. As I was driving around, I remember seeing trucks transporting the fencing to the US Capitol. This was going to be the last time I see the US Capitol so open and without fencing in a long time.

Monday, January 18th I found myself taking a little walk around in the same place. Just two days before the Presidential Inauguration, this was definitely not the US Capitol I was used to. I remember parking my car and sitting there for a while, very hesitant to get out. I was scared to see what it looked like and to feel the energy.

The fencing was up and National Guard was everywhere. It blocked off so many streets that I was looking at maps to see exactly where was I was relative to the Capitol Building. It was the eeriest feeling I’ve ever had taking pictures around Washington DC.

Barb wire ontop of the fencing started to appear

Click here to read more

All photos available for print and licensing >

The Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge started construction in the Summer of 2017. Every time I visited the Navy Yard or even the Tidal Basin, I was eagerly waiting for the completion of the bridge. From afar, it looked really cool with the arches and I loved how there was going to be a pedestrian walkway to allow people to walk or bike from DC to Prince George’s County, Maryland. You know me, if there’s a new vantage point in the city, I’m excited to go check it out.

So in December, my friend Makeeya, asked If I wanted to meet up for an early morning walk around the Navy Yard and then eventually walk across the bridge. I had no idea that the bridge was even open for pedestrians so I was all for it.

Walking across the bridge was beautiful. I loved seeing the archesFREDERICK DOUGLASS MEMORIAL BRIDGE, navy yard, waterfront, washington dc, prince george, maryland, new bridge, arches, architecture, reflection, panorama view, audi field,

Once I got close and I was really fascinated by the reflections I saw in the barriers between traffic and the pedestrian walkway.

It’s very evident that there is still construction going on on the bridge. There are cranes and construction vehicles surrounding the bridge but open traffic.

Once we got off the bridge, we ended up walking along the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail in Price George’s County, MD. I feel like views from this trail will be beautiful in the spring or fall of the Navy Yard.

View of the US Capitol from the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail

And to complete the circle, we went onto the 11st Street Bridge to go back to where we had originally started our photo walk. It was a great time to be out and see the city transform before our eyes. I can’t wait until Fall 2021 when the bridge is supposed to be complete and I can photograph it without all the cranes or construction around it!

All photos available for print and licensing >

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!

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!

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.

It was on!

Click here to read more