Virginia

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One of my new favorite places in the world is the CEB Tower in Rosslyn, VA. I’ve found myself recommending it to people without them even asking. LOL thats how you know it’s a great place to be. Not only is there a great view of Washington DC, but the observation deck itself is very beautiful. The first time I visited, I was blown away by the interior and the windows, paneling, everything. It’s floor to ceiling windows and it’s just breathtaking at sunset.

But my favorite part is when you go outside to the little deck area and you’re literally standing 31 floors up in the air with nothing but beauty around you. That is what my friend, Albert was experiencing in this image. He’s sitting outside on the deck, posing for his own pictures when I saw him perfectly framed by the window panels while standing inside. It was right around sunset time so the sky was working in our favor as well. I love that he is being silhouetted by the colors.

So if you’re planning a visit to the CEB Tower, definietly enjoy the view but the interior is something to appreciate as well. Also, there’s a bar inside so what can be better than some nice views and a little drinky drink. You know what I’m saying? LOL.

My camera settings for this image is F5.6 at 1/15th sec at ISO 640 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

By the way, currently working on the follow up to this blog post about sunrises in Washington DC with one about sunsets. Obviously the CEB Tower will be included, but if you have any other places that you think are good for sunsets in Washington DC, please let me know! I would love to add your input.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend 🙂

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So now that you know that I’ve spent multiple evenings at the View of DC, you must have figured that I have quite a few images from this place now. LOL. This is the balcony. You can see how it’s enclosed by glass so reflections can be found everywhere! I loved it from the first moment I saw it.

This image was taken on the second day that I was was visiting the CEB building. The sunset was gorgeous and I was so happy to be on the balcony to witness it. I was the only one out there with this couple who were on the opposite side taking their own pictures of the view. At this time they were looking at the images they had just captured on the camera but I love the way they are still being affectionate towards each other. I had to stoop down low in order to capture this image so that the glass reflection looked almost as big as the side of the building on the right hand side.

In case you were wondering, the spaces in between the glass panes are pretty big. I was able to fit my entire lens through it, but it wasn’t big enough to turn it to the side. If I wanted to capture an image, it had to be straight on. However if you’re at the corner of the balcony, the spaces in between are a lot smaller. Just a little tip for you photographers who were thinking about visiting and hoping to capture images without the glass.

With this view, I know I’ll be back. I feel like there’s so much more to explore here with so many different angles.

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 1/640th sec and ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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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

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Attention! Attention! I have a new sunset spot that I need to share. It’s very similar to the view at this one, but at least this time you’ll be able to go whenever you want and won’t be trespassing on residential property. LOL.

Its at the Observation Deck at the CEB Tower in Arlington, VA. If you haven’t already you gotta go! I honestly don’t know what took me so long because it opened in the summertime and earlier this week was my first time visiting. You can walk 360 degrees all around the 31st floor of this building which gives you very interesting viewpoints of Rosslyn, VA and Washington, DC. It’s absolutely stunning! The one downside is that you’re always shooting through windows.

This image was captured right before sunset through the window. The glow on the memorials is what caught my attention to this scene and I couldn’t help but snap multiple images. My tip is to put your lens right up against the glass to reduce glare. If you have a dark black cloth that you can put over the lens, that’s even better! In order to capture this, I actually used my cell phone as a shield against the little spot that was being reflected. It was enough for the day but in case you’re there on a super sunny day, a cloth would be best.

But I haven’t told you the best part yet! The best part is that you can go up to the second floor of this observatory and go outside! You’re still shooting through glass but it’s even better with the fresh air. There are little spaces in between the glass panes that you can sort of fit your lens through but otherwise, it’s an interesting place to experiment.

My camera setting for this image is F5.6 at 1/100th sec at ISO 640 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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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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Is it me or did Thanksgiving creep up on you too? I can’t believe it’s next week! In the past I would have already known what dishes I’m making but this year I have no clue. I have not looked at pinterest once! I need to get on that this weekend.

But in the meantime I have been going through some of the images I’ve taken recently of the fall colors. It was like I spent a week straight photographing different places around the Washington DC area to capture the color but didn’t have time to go through ALL the images. But this trip to Shenandoah National Park was definietly a highlight.

Shenandoah National Park isn’t exactly in the Washington area but it’s a great place to escape to when you need a little time with nature. On this trip I went with my friend, Larry and we were both pleasantly surprised by the sunrise color. In the past, we haven’t had much luck with color in the park. Mostly a lot of cloudy, foggy days.  So as soon as I saw that color come out, I was super excited to switch to my 16-35mm wide angle to try to capture as much of the sky as I could. I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not but lately, I’ve been really liking to have a blurry foreground element and have something in the mid-ground in focus. That is exactly what I was trying to do here with the huge rocks that I was standing on in order to capture this image. What do you think?

My camera settings for this image is F4.5 at 1/40th sec at ISO 1250 with my 16-35mm and Larry let me borrow his Sony A7III for the day.

And if you have any Thanksgiving recipe suggestions let me know! Something on the easy side 🙂