Spring is my favorite time to be in Washington DC. Birds are chirping, flowers are blooming and everyone seems to have a smile on their face. What’s not to love? It’s a special time to be in the city where tourists and locals alike flock to the famous cherry blossoms to admire their beauty.
2021 Update: National Park Service is predicting a peak bloom on April 2-5,2021. Meaning about 70% of the blossoms around the Tidal Basin will be in bloom <3 However, this year may be different. With COVID-19 still a concern in the Capital Region, the National Mall and Memorial Parks are encouraging people to watch them from the webcam and decided they would offer very limited in-person viewing.
But just in case we are allowed to visit this year, let me try to break it down for you…
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.
One of my favorite places to go to shoot in Northern Virginia is Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. I actually learned about it through Andrew. The first time we went here was on one our first dates. I still remember thinking it was weird that he took me here because he gets bad allergies in the spring time but he knew it was a place that I’d enjoy so I really appreciated that about him. Some of my favorite cherry blossom images that I’ve ever taken were taken from here. For example this one and this one. I just love the variety of flowers that you can see here.
So when I got the opportunity to pick a workshop location for a recent one-on-one teach that I did, Meadowlark was the first place that popped in my head. It is beautiful but still quiet enough where we’d be able to walk and talk about cameras and settings without disturbing many other people. The National Mall is a good place too, but it can get pretty crowded and parking isn’t always the best situation. So a great alternative is Meadowlark.
This image was taken from across the lake facing the Korean Bell Garden. I love how the branches create a cool frame around the pagoda. If I didn’t know any better than I would have assumed this was taken somewhere in Asia.
Just in case you’re in the area, the gates will open at 6a on Saturday May, 19th when they typically open at 10a. I bet this would look really nice in the early morning light. And if you’re interested in my workshops, click here for more information. They’re one-on-one so I can cater the information based on whatever you’d like to learn. Plus you don’t have to live in the DC metro area, we could go over everything through google hangouts or skype 🙂
My camera settings for this image is F5.6 at 1/1250th of a second at ISO 200 with my Sony A7II and 28-70mm handheld.
I went out to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens earlier this week to check out the blossoms there. It’s one of my favorite places to go outside of the city to see some beautiful flowers. Unfortunately, I was too early. It hardly looked like anything was blossoming yet including the cherry blossoms. So I took the opportunity to just walk around an enjoy the afternoon sun.
In the center of the park is a large pond with a gazebo. It’s one of the first things you see when you walk through the park. I love walking on the bridge leading to the gazebo because there are always these large koi fish that come to greet you. I’m not sure how they know you’re there but they definietly know. If you just stand there for 2 minutes, you’ll see at least 10 of them come swimming towards you. There have been many times in my life where I wish I had a piece of bread with me. This was another one of those times. I would of loved to feed the fish, unfortunately I didn’t have anything with me but my camera.
I’m not giving up hope on Meadowlark yet though. I plan on being back there when the cherry blossoms in DC are over. I think that’d be the perfect time to go.
For this image, I shot it at f5.6 1/800th of a second ISO 250 with my 28-70mm lens. My overall vision for this image was to capture the motion of the fish. Not with a long exposure, but with the curvature in their bodies. I love watching them move so smoothly through the water, I felt like the twists and turns that they make would really capture motion. Plus I love that little splash the tail is creating from the fish on top of the image.
Like I said yesterday, DC has been getting a lot of rain. It makes it very difficult to take sunrise and sunset images because the clouds have been convering the sun. So, I went with my friend William to shoot Meadowlark Gardens. I have a good time shooting with him because he makes me think about a lot of things I’ve never thought about, whether its how to find the right composition or about photo as a business.
Unfortunately, it started raining right in the middle of us walking around the gardens. Fortunately, it stopped pretty quickly and we were able to get some great shots of water droplets on flowers.