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.
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.
Helicopters flying by almost every minute
Thousands of National Guards
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.
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 arches
Once I got close and I was really fascinated by the reflections I saw in the barriers between traffic and the pedestrian walkway.
Approaching the bridge from the Navy Yard
Reflection seen from the banisters
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!
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.
At the end of every year, I like to sit down and look through all the images I’ve taken in the past year. It’s one of my favorite traditions because I reflect back on the year and most of the time, I have forgotten about some of the fun photo excursions I’ve been on. It’s also really nice to put all these images together in one place and view them as a collection.
We can all agree that 2020 was very unusual. Not only were there times where I felt uncomfortable going out to take pictures, but there were times where I just felt uninspired and a lot of judgment towards my own work. The judgment towards my work has always been there, however it was much more amplified this year. I tried my best to go out and shoot at least once a week but there have been at least a dozen photo walks that I’ve been on where NO ONE has seen the pictures from. I just wasn’t happy with them, so they are just sitting in my Lightroom catalog as we speak.
But that’s not to say that I lost my passion for photography. I feel like I am even more passionate about it than ever. When I wasn’t out shooting or doing the normal stuff I would typically be doing in a normal year, I was at home learning. I have never watched so many tutorial videos, read so many books, and slowed down to be really present while I’m out shooting. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been so hard with myself. I always felt like something could be better or different and I’m trying to use all that I’ve learned and apply it to my real-life shooting.
Typically I would have another blog post about my favorite travel images, but that obviously didn’t happen this year either… LOL. So here are my favorite images from 2020 🙂
At the very beginning of the year, my friend Andy messaged a few of friends and started a little group called Sunday Sunrise. We were going to try to meet up every Sunday… for sunrise. LOL. Unfortunately, the group was only able to meet a few times in the beginning of the year, but while we were in the peak of meeting up, I created this one beautiful morning. I just love how the reflection turned out with that person walking towards the Washington Monument.
It’s interesting because this was the day that I realized that I take a majority of my images in a vertical orientation. A couple of years back, a friend of mine told me that magazines are always looking for vertical images because magazines are vertical. So ever since then, I’ve tried to challenge myself with the vertical orientation. And then Instagram started favoring the vertical orientation as well, so I’ve been creating pictures that way without even realizing it. This year, I’ve been making a conscious effort to take more horizontals to balance out the way that my imagines are seen.
Another image with our Sunday Sunrise group. I don’t remember it raining or anything the day before, but there was this large puddle at the Grant Memorial. It was an awesome find because it gave such a different perspective of the US Capitol building. The beautiful sunrise colors was an added bonus!
It felt like spring came early this year and it was very much welcomed. I find that I’m always on the hunt to find new places to capture all the beautiful blooms in the city. I have been to the National Cathedral a few times for spring, but it was mostly to photograph the Saucer Magnolias that are at the park next to it. Never had I thought of walking the grounds and I was so pleasantly surprised when I saw these beautiful blooms.
It’s been a while since I’ve had an update blog post. Mostly because I didn’t have much to update on. However, I was going through my catalog the other day and realized I have some images that I wanted to share!
Since coming back from New Hampshire, I tried my best to capture the fall colors around the Washington DC area. Even though Washington DC is a city, there are still some great places to go to see fall colors! All the different shades of red, yellow, and orange make me so happy. So this is a compilation of the images I’ve created from mid-October to the very end of November.
It was my friend, Larry and I’s 4th year anniversary of capturing the sunrise in Shenandoah National Park in the autumn time. I love this tradition. Mostly because it’s fun to reminisce on our friendship. Each year we go has been extremely different. But there has always been one thing in common, awesome fall colors!
This time around, we were lucky to get some fog. It was crazy because the entire time we were driving to and from Shenandoah, there was a lot of fog. So when we got to the top of the mountain, it was really cool to see it from above. They kind of look like spider webs!