Virginia

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The last image I took at this sunset and night workshop was of my friend, Andy. He was smart enough to bring a flashlight with him and this image actually took a couple of tries.

Considering the fact that we were there with about 12 other photographers, everyone at different skill levels, it was hard to capture this image. We were all there trying to take night shots with Jimmy and Waldnilso but we weren’t sure if we were able to take some of our own. So as people were readjusting their focal points and things, Andy would run quickly to the George Washington’s bust and light it up in time for his own self-timer and he was kind enough to make sure I got the shot too.

But with all these attempts, the one at the very end, when everyone else was packing up,  turned out the best. And if you look closely enough, I even captured a shooting star! Which by the way, there were so many shooting stars that night! So fun!

If you want to check out Andy’s version of this image, click here. It’s awesome. He also made a youtube video about our experience that you can watch here.

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 8 seconds and ISO 160 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide-angle zoom.

That guy can stand very still for so long. LOL.

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Ok, enough chit chat. This was my FAVORITE part of the night. It was the “segment” when Waldnilso brought out his drone, attached some lume cubes to the bottom of it and started flying when it was crazy dark outside. This was the first time I’ve ever witnessed anyone flying at night and it was so cool. To be honest, I didn’t even know you could do it.

But the lights were surprisingly bright. The kind of bright that if you stared at them too long, you’ll start seeing stars. Even hovering over a president’s head for a little bit of time was enough to light them up for an exposure and it created some very interesting/creepy images.

But the best was when Waldnilso would circle around the presidents’ heads. At first, he did these circles which were really cool. He told us to hit our shutter when the drone was behind the head and then release it when it came back around for a very clean looking circle. Those images turned out cool but then he suggested spiraling around the heads. OMG! I moved my camera and tripod over to the side so I wouldn’t get a similar-looking image and I love the way that it turned out. I can’t even imagine what it takes to fly a drone at night but it was the coolest thing ever.

PS that light coming from the right-hand side of the image is the moonlight.

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 83 seconds and ISO 160 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide-angle lens.

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So the reason why I recommend going to the sunset and night tour with John at the Presidents Heads is for two reasons. 1: You can’t beat the sunset light. It’s the second-best time of day to shoot plus the blue hour is perfect at this location. 2: The night photography is ah-mazing and they don’t hold anything back.

In order to do it all, John had some help from Jimmy Powell to pull out all his different lighting tricks. You should have seen it. He had a whole wagon full of different color flashlights, pixel sticks, steel wool, EVERYTHING. It was awesome. When the sun started to fall and everyone was done taking their blue hour images, we all stood together in a group with our tripods. John and Jimmy made sure everyone had a good understanding of nighttime exposure, everything was working with everyone’s tripods and discussing how to focus our images to make sure the presidents’ heads appear sharp in our images.

This was my first time ever photographing steel wool and it was exciting. If I remember correctly, Jimmy had steel wool shoved inside a kitchen whisk which was then attached to a piece of string and just twirled it around. If you’ve seen images like this before, you know it can be dramatic and in my opinion a lot to look at.

Here’s an example of steel wool being spun from behind President Jackson’s head.

So when I just created a shorter exposure for steel wool, I really liked how it came out. It’s so simple and it almost looks like the picture is still loading. LOL.

My camera settings for the “loading” image is F5.0 at 4 seconds and ISO 320 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide-angle lens.

My camera settings for the wool spun behind President Jackson is F5 and 2 seconds and ISO 320 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide-angle lens.

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So the story behind these heads is that they were originally apart of a Williamsburg attraction called President’s Park. It started in the early 2000s and these busts were in an open-air museum type thing for people to pay to see. Unfortunately, people did not want to pay to see it so in 2010, the park closed and the heads were left to be trashed.

A man named Howard Hankins happened to help build the park but also did not want to see the busts go to waste. He bid and won them at an auction and ended up moving them to his property. I don’t think he had any real plans for them, he just didn’t want to see them destroyed. So they’re basically just sitting on his property and this is what they look like after sitting around for 9 years without any maintenance.

It’s pretty cool to see how decayed they are. I mean the details on some of these heads were incredible. I wanted to add an image here to give you a sense of scale and to sort of see how they are laid out. To the right of the image is my friend, Zack taking pictures of one of the presidents. You can see how an average height person comes to almost the shoulder of the presidents.

Most of them are lined up in rows like this. There were 3 long rows, a few shorter rows and even fewer that just stood out. Please don’t ask me to name all of them because I definitely can’t. LOL. But I was surprised to see President Clinton and both of the Bushs’.

My camera settings for this image is F5 at 1/320th sec and ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide-angle lens.

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As mentioned a few weeks ago, I went somewhere that I’ve been wanting to go to for FOREVER! The President Heads in Williamsburg, Virginia! I’ve been seeing images of these busts for years but never had the opportunity to visit.

Actually, I take that back. About 2 years ago, Andrew, Frankie and I actually drove down to Williamsburg for the weekend and tried to look for them. At that time, the address was very vague and every time I tried googling them, the address would lead us to the middle of nowhere. We would drive back and forth on the highway and just around the general vicinity of Croaker, VA but never found it. We ended up giving up and just spent the weekend hanging out. At that point, I was sure I wouldn’t see them.

But it wasn’t until my friend, Jeremy posted images from the President Head last month and said that he was on a photo tour that really sparked my interest in them again. So in case you’re interested in seeing them, click here for the event details. We signed up for the sunset and night tour which I’d highly recommend.

Since I’ll be in Oregon this whole week, I figured I’d post images from this event this entire week. Hope you don’t mind 🙂

My camera settings for this image is F5 at 1/13th sec and ISO 800 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide-angle lens.

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Confused by what sights to see on your short visit to Washington DC?

There are so many monuments, memorials, and museums. Where do you even start?

If want to know the absolute best of the best things to see in Washington DC, keep on scrolling. This guide is for you!

I’ve lived in the Washington DC area my entire life and in that time I’ve gotten to know the city very well. It has changed so much in the past few years that it may be hard to keep up with all the new and fun things to see. Sometimes I even think it’s hard to keep up with all that is going on. There have been new museums, memorials and points of interest that would be fun for a solo traveler as well as families all at the same time.

So in this guide, I will share some highlights of my favorite sights as a Washington DC native and photographer.

My 7 Favorite Must-See Sights in Washington DC:

 

Click here to read more