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The watch is onnnnnn….

Last week Capital Weather Gang and the National Cherry Blossom festival both announced their predictions for the peak of cherry blossom season this year. It’s not always accurate, but they are usually pretty close. So I think I can confidently say that we should expect the cherry blossoms to start their first blooms the first week of April.

I C-A-N-T W-A-I-T. It’s always my favorite time of year and literally when I will probably be coming out of this winter hibernation I’ve been experience ever since the last snow storm here in Washington DC. Sometimes I do feel a little pressure to come up with new composition ideas but once I actually get to the Tidal Basin, I’m always inspired by the flowers. Honestly, the city doesn’t get any prettier than when the cherry blossoms are here.

So if you’re in the area, definitely mark your calendars for the 1st week of April. It will be a good time and if we run into each other, please say hello. It’s always great meeting people who read the blog.

This image was taken 2 years ago. It was probably one of the most epic cherry blossom days in recent memory. It was so foggy and visibility was so low that everything else around me just disappeared. I imagine if it weren’t so foggy you’d even see a little bit of the Washington Monument in the background. My favorite part is how this tree limb is barely touching the water but the reflection is just so nice. I don’t know why but I just keep staring at the right side of this image and I love it so much.

My camera settings for this image is F6.3 at 1/80th sec and ISO 200 with my Sony A7II and 28-70mm lens.

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This image was taken on my way out of the Cholla Cactus Garden in Joshua Tree National Park at early morning just after sunrise. The sunrise was particularly colorful but unfortunately we weren’t able to capture it from the Cactus garden. The sky was starting to explode with color while we were on our way over there and ended up taking pictures somewhere along the side of the road to capture the Joshua Trees as foreground instead.

Its funny to me that all my recent trips and memories of Southern California has been in the winter time. I feel like it’s a totally different experience than if you visited in the summer. I bring that up because I was actually talking to Andrew this morning and we were trying to recall if California had a lot of mosquitos or not. To be honest, I don’t even remember seeing a lot of bugs in general. I’m sure if they did, there would be a lot in the summertime but because we have been there in the winter, I can’t even remember. Can anyone shine some light on this question?

Anyways, I got side tracked. Joshua Tree is an amazing place to visit if you’re ever planning a trip. I hope to go back sometime soon and see more of the park cuz it’s huge. Maybe in the summertime so I can see for myself about the bug situation? LOL. But I know the temperature difference is going to be extreme. While we were there it was super windy and so cold that at times it was difficult to be outside. I imagine it to be the same in the summer but with the heat.

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 1/1250th sec and ISO 800 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm.

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If you’ve never been to the Neon Museum, I’d highly recommend it. Out of all the times I’ve been to Vegas, I can’t believe I’ve never been before. It’s a really cool place with lots to see and reminisce on what used to be.

My mom and I used to go every summer while I was growing up. Her sister and family lives there so we would go and visit them all the time. I loved it. But what I didn’t realize was how family friendly Vegas was trying to be in the 90’s. At that time there was Circus Circus, Excalibur, Luxor was just built and for those super hot summer days, Wet and Wild was my favorite place to be. It wasn’t until I took the tour at the Neon Museum where I realized that that was happening and I was actually happy I grew up in the era of the “family friendly Vegas”.

Now it’s the total opposite of that but it’s still really cool to see these vintage signs. For example, this sign of the Stardust. I totally remember visiting the hotel and casino but even more so I remember watching the the building blow up on TV. My cousin told me that her and her friends were sitting on top of their car and watched it in person. Pretty cool if you asked me.

So if you’ve never been, I’d highly recommend the art talk provided the the Neon Museum. It was entertaining to listen to and learned a lot of cool facts. To be honest, the “boneyard” itself wasn’t big. I actually did a whole lap around before I found out about the art talk, attended the art talk, and then did another entire lap around the property. It worked out well because I challenged myself to keep the same lens on for each lap I did and could only switch when I was done. It definitely challenged me to be more mindful of things and I probably saw a lot more detail than I would have if I was just constantly switching the entire time. In case you’re wondering, 3 laps around the boneyard took me about an hour.

My camera settings for this image is F14 at 1/250th sec and ISO 160 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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One of the really cool things about being in Las Vegas this time of the year was being able to see all the Lunar New Year decorations. Each hotel that participated had such different vibes and recreations of the holidays but my favorite is always the one at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino. I don’t know what it is about it, but they always seem to go all out for special occasions. So I knew I had to stop by at least once to check it out.

This was taken one night when I went on a walk alone with me and my camera. It was so much fun just taking my time to explore the city at night. So I basically started from our hotel and walked about a mile and a half on one side of the strip, turned around and walked on the other side on the way back to the hotel. I knew that I had to pop my head into the Bellagio and thought that the interior decor was crazy cool but then when I stepped out, I saw all the lanterns hanging above the entrance into the hotel. I was actually on my way to go watch the famous water fountain show but then I saw this reflection out of the corner of my eye and I had to stop. I get so excited when I see little surprises like this. The fountains of Bellagio were going to have to wait. LOL so worth it.

My camera settings for this image is F7.1 at 1/8th sec at ISO 1200 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens. I didn’t use a tripod for this because I didn’t want to have to carry it around with me so I ended up balancing my camera on the edge of the water fountain which turned out to be perfect because I was able to capture much more of the reflection being so down low.

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Home from Vegas and I had the time of my life. Is it me or even if you’re not up all night partying and drinking, it’s still an exhausting place to be. LOL. There’s just so much to do and see that the sensory stimulation is on overdrive 24/7. Whatever the case is, I had a blast over the weekend. Like I said before, I was there for a wedding in the family and so most of my weekend was spent with them but I did manage to slip out for some time on my own and check out some of the sights that I’ve always wanted to go to.

For example, the Neon Museum. Talk about a cool place to visit! The best part was the short art talk provided by the museum as we walked around the grounds, they explained some of the more popular signs that are there. One interesting thing that I never thought about was the fact that Las Vegas is known for these neon signs, but they’re quickly becoming extinct as casinos and hotels are opting for LED signage. So this museum only has the potential to grow so much.

I think the next time I visit, I’ll go at night. Even though it was still cool to see in the daytime, I’m sure the night time experience would be so different. I heard that a lot of the signs actually light up. Unfortunately with all the activities already preplanned, I was only able to go during the day. This image is a selfie I managed to capture through a neon sign. I really like the way that it turned out and totally show off the “behind the scenes” of what it’s really like there.

My camera settings for this image is F14 at 1/80th sec and ISO 160 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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Even in the middle of January, I’m already starting to get questions about cherry blossoms season in spring. Actually, I started receiving them in December! Props to all of you early planners out there who want to make sure they capture my favorite time in Washington DC. Seriously, cherry blossom season is the best time to be in the Capital. I don’t blame you.

Even with all my experience shooting the blossoms, it’s still very difficult to predict when they’ll actually bloom. I usually say beginning of April will be your best bet, but I’ve seen them as early as late March and as late as mid April. They don’t last too long either. From what I’ve seen a week to a week and a half tops. I remember one year we may have only had 3 good days with the flowers before they all fell off due to rain we got. They’re fragile flowers so don’t be disappointed if you planned so much to see them and you don’t. They honestly really hard to plan for.

But for those of you wondering, I created this guide. Hope this helps. I try my best to update it every year and plan on doing so this year when we’re closer to the dates. I like to update it with what NPS has forecasted as peak bloom, new changes and developments, etc.

I have also dedicated a whole chapter in Snap DC about photographing the cherry blossoms. You can never have too much cherry blossom info, am I right? So if those two resources don’t help, let me know and I’ll try my best to answer any questions you may have.

My camera settings for this image is F8 at 1/25th sec at ISO 400 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.