Virginia

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So my favorite view from the Washington Monument was definitely facing west with views of the World War II Memorial, Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial. It may have been because we were there around sunset and obviously you want to be facing west, but it was the Reflecting Pool that kept on catching my eye. I couldn’t believe how still and peaceful the water looked. It literally looked like glass from above.

But out of the corner of my eye, I noticed an airplane flying by in the sky and you could see it in the reflecting pool. It was the coolest thing ever. Luckily, at that time of the night, there’s pretty much an airplane that flys by ever ten minutes. So I just waited a bit for another one to come and tried my best to capture it in the reflection.

I also love seeing all the traffic around the memorial and into Arlington, Virginia. GAH I love these elevated views. Can’t wait to go up in the Washington Monument again to capture some more!

If you have any questions about getting tickets or what it’s like up there, please feel free to let me know. I’m currently writing a guide that will explain the process.

My camera settings for this image are F4.5 at 1/30th sec and ISO 1000 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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This past weekend, I had planned on meeting up with my friend, Larry for sunrise at Netherlands Carillion. But when I actually got to the location, it turned out Larry was already there with a whole group of photographers. It was a nice surprise so early in the morning and great to catch up with Larry, my friend, Frithjov and other photographers.

The sunrise itself was pretty unique. It was a cloudless day but as the sun was rising it was really bright and red. It made the whole sky glow. I think I got some pretty interesting shots, but I think this one is my favorite. It was after the sun had risen and we were all walking back to our cars. I noticed the Iwo Jima Marine Corps War Memorial poking out through the trees and thought it was an interesting perspective that I hadn’t really captured before. At the right moment, this runner came out of the trees and I loved how it added some scale. You can don’t even realize how big this memorial is until you compare it to something you can relate to like this person.

Also, looking at this image makes me excited for fall. I can’t wait for those leaves to change color. I’m going to keep this image in mind for the next few weeks and see if I can come up with a whole new perspective.

My camera settings for this image are F8 at 1/80th sec and ISO 200 with my Sony A7II and my 70-200mm zoom lens.

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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.