I got another roll of film developed! It’s always so exciting to get your rolls of film back, don’t you think? For some reason, I always forget most of the images I photograph so getting to see the images is so fun. Tell me why I had images of snow and cherry blossoms on the same roll! LOL. I don’t always procrastinate on stuff, but I guess capturing images on film is one of those things that I think can wait.
So here are just a few of my favorite images I received. The one above is of the Smithsonian Castle captured from the steps of the Hirshhorn Museum. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed how the Washington Monument can be seen from this point of view. I loved all the layering and points.
It’s like spring all over again. Looking up at the cherry blossom at the Tidal Basin.
Classic view of the cherry blossoms with the Washington Monument in the frame.
A selfie in the “Mirror. Mirror” art display in Alexandria’s Waterfront Park in Virginia. This is very cool to see in person and would recommend stopping by if you’re in the area. Luckily, I was there when no one else was so I was able to get this solo self-portrait.
Obviously, these are a little out of order but it’s just so weird seeing this snow image with all the others. I love this view from the View of DC. So obviously I had to go check it out when the city was covered in snow. I think this image turned out pretty well considering it was photographed through a window.
If you’re looking for the best spots to watch and photograph the sun setting in Washington DC, you’ve come to the right place.
The National Mall can get crowded, overwhelming and confusing. I’m here to help you navigate the park so you can get your best shots quickly and efficiently.
I’ve lived in the area my whole life and been photographing the National Mall for over 8 years. I’ve pretty much been to every one of these places at least 20 times. So here’s my complete list of the best to watch the sunset in Washington DC:
But First, Here’s What You Need to Get Ready for Your Sunset Shoot
Because of the number of people that visit the National Mall every day, sunset is a little more difficult to navigate than sunrise. There are far more people, we’re talking busloads of people, so be prepared. That means if this is your first time in Washington DC, I’d highly suggest public transportation either by metro, Lyft or even an electric scooter! All are very convenient ways to get you around the Nation’s Capital.
Also with the number of people, I’d even say try to get to your sunset location earlier than you think you should. Who knows what kind of hang-ups you could possibly run into. If it were a cold winter day, I say you could get by with going 30 minutes early. On a beautiful summer day, I’d go as far as saying an hour before sunset would not be a bad idea.
And my number one most asked question, are tripods allowed? For the most part, yes, but you may run into some complications. If you’re in a densely crowded area like World War II Memorial or Lincoln Memorial, you will probably be asked to take it down immediately by Park Police. They can be a walking hazard and just get in the way of people. But if you’re in a more spread out area like the Washington Monument grounds or even the Tidal Basin, there is a little more elbow room so you could get away with it.
The United States Capitol is unique because it’s technically not a part of the National Mall. The last time I spoke to Capitol police they said tripods are allowed. Since then, other photographer friends have told me that the Capitol police asked them to take down their tripods. So I’m still pretty if-y if they are actually allowed. I tend to just bring my tripod to the Capitol and if I’m asked to put it away, I do so politely.
Now on to The Top 5 Sunset Locations in Washington DC:
The Washington Monument is Always a Good Idea
The Washington Monument is so iconically Washington DC and the tallest structure in the city. So because of that, there is no best time to photograph it. It can be seen from so many different vantage points around the city that the possibilities are endless. However, if you catch it at the right time, it can glow orange. It’s absolutely amazing if you see it.
In order to capture the glow, I’d recommend getting to your sunset location early and face east towards the Monument. I would suggest standing either in front of the World War II memorial or along the grassy area in front of the west side of the monument and maybe 30-40 minutes ahead of sunset will work. I think the closer you are to the monument the better the imagery. But the key is to be patient. The way that the sun reflects off of clouds and on to the monument to glow doesn’t happen every day but if you see it, it will make your travel images very unique.
The story behind this image is a long one. So here it goes… and it’s slightly embarrassing.
So I visited the View of DC for the first time on Tuesday, Dec 4th. I thought the view was really cool but I was most excited to be there at sunset/night time because I have been loving the Kennedy Center lights at night. Everytime around this year, the Kennedy Center honors the performing arts for their lifetime contributions to American culture, so to help celebrate that have rainbow colored lights on the exterior of the building. Every other time of the year they are plain white. I’m really not sure how long they keep the rainbow lights on, but I know it’s not for long.
So night time falls and I was excited to go out to the balcony and capture the Kennedy Center from an elevated view. I captured a few images of the building but kept my lens moving to see if I could capture any other cool scenes. I captured this one and remember wondering where the lights were coming from. I really didn’t think much of it.
As soon as I got home, it hit me! It’s a reflection from the Kennedy Center! Had I known while I was still at the observation deck, I probably would have spent more time trying find different ways of capturing the reflection. I love how shooting through the glass made the rainbow colors exaggerated. I just thought it was the coolest thing ever but was disappointed that the image was slightly out of focus. I knew if I went back, I could capture an even better image. So I decided then and there that I was going to go back the next day and just spend time trying to capture the reflection.
Wednesday, December 5th. I arrived to the CEB building a little bit before sunset. I figured if I was going to be there anyways, I might as well as try to capture the good light one more time. The sunset was beautiful but cold. I went back inside after the light disappeared waiting for the sky to get darker so I could really see the Kennedy Center lights glow. 20 minutes later, the lights were still white. Why weren’t they rainbow? I CALLED THE KENNEDY CENTER TO ASK WHERE THE LIGHTS WERE. LOL. I think we figured out that the lights weren’t rainbow that evening in honor of President George HW Bush’s funeral earlier that day.
Ok, no problem. Lesson learned. Since the Kennedy Center won’t always turn on the rainbow lights and I wasn’t sure when they would turn them off permanently for the rest of the year, it’s best to make sure the lights turn on before going back to the observation deck.
Thursday, December 6th. I drive by the Kennedy Center right after sunset and the lights are on! YES! I made my way back to Rosslyn, VA and excited to capture the rainbow lights. Until I get to the lobby and find out that the observation deck was closed for a private event! OMG there was no notice of a private event on their website, social media or anything. I was so frustrated especially since sunset is around 5p now and that’s right in the middle of heavy traffic time. Each way to the CEB tower was at least 45min – 1 hr of sitting in traffic. I could have cried. But found out that the next day was going to be absolutely open to the public and I should be able to capture what I was hoping for.
Friday, December 7th. Again, drove by the Kennedy Center to make sure the lights were on and they were. THIS WAS GOING TO BE THE DAY! And it finally was. I made my way to the observation deck and was so happy to see that I had it to myself. I spent almost 45 minutes using the glass around the observation deck as a way to capture the different reflections. I put my lens right up to the glass then pulled away. I stepped right and left, up and down to see how I could get it in different ways. This was by far my favorite.
Was all of this effort worth it? I’m not sure yet but I most definitely love the final result. It sort of reminds me of Ariana Grande’s new album cover which makes me even happier.
Told you that was a long story. Would you have gone through all of that to capture this one image?
My camera settings for this image is F4.0 at 1/15th sec at ISo6400 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm
Last week, I had THE best rooftop experiences O F M Y L I F E !
Thank you so much to Albert for inviting me to Rosslyn, Virginia where they were holding a cocktail reception celebrating Rosslyn’s newest development Central Place. Central place is a high-rise apartment building and its absolutely GORGEOUS. Inside and out. For the most part we were on the 6th floor lounge area enjoying the cocktails when around sunset Albert, Anna, Lindsey and I asked if we could be escorted upstairs to one of the top levels. This is the view from the 26th floor lounge. Yes! This apartment complex has 2 lounge areas, a pool with Miami FL vibes, and seems super dog friendly. All huge pluses for me.
My jaw dropped as soon as we went to the outdoor patio. Never in my LIFE have I seen a view with all four landmarks in one shot. It’s the Jefferson Memorial on the very right, the Lincoln, Washington Monument and then the Capitol in the back left side. It was absolutely breathtaking. I really just wanted to claim a little corner of that space and live there forever. I feel like I could watch this view from sunrise all the way to dawn.
Luckily we had some rain earlier in the day and the sun came out just in time to create these cotton candy skies. I’m pretty sure the camera gods knew I’d be taking pictures at the best view ever so I appreciate them looking out! Either way, I don’t think anyone could ever take a bad picture from this view point.
I’m also super happy that I had my 70-200mm with me. It was an amazing way to break in the new lens!
My camera settings for this image is F5.0 at 1/50th of a second ISO 400 on my Sony a7II handheld.