Saturday, March 31, 2012

Jefferson Memorial Sunrise Reflection

I doubt that Thomas Jefferson imagined that he would be honored with such a majestic structure as the Jefferson Memorial. Although I'm sure that he would appreciate how beautifully situated it is on this picturesque spot at the Tidal Basin, especially at dawn.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Cherry Blossoms and Blue Skies

I love getting a hint of blue skies when I'm in Cherry Blossom photography mode. Blue skies just feature the subtle pink color of the blossoms so beautifully. With blue skies in the background, the resulting photographs best reflects what I saw in person with my eye.

At times, what we see with our eyes and what the camera captures can vary. Our vision makes adjustments while working with our brains, while our digital cameras rely on us to tell it when adjustments should be made.

Digital cameras may become smarter and more intuitive, but to create memorable images, cameras will still require human operators to make images that most closely resemble what we see with the human eye.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Magnolia Blossom with a Friend

Accompanying the cherry trees on the National Mall, there are several magnolia trees which bloom around the same time. This image is a close-up of a magnolia blossom near the end of its blooming cycle.

While I love flower photography, I never strive to capture insects interacting with flowers and plants. I'm not a fan of bugs, so when in nature, I try to stay clear of them and not get too close.

Somehow in spite of my plan, I was able to capture this fly resting on this magnolia blossom. Even though this is a cool moment to freeze in a photograph, it doesn't change my position on no insects in my compositions.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

New Challenges

After photographing the Cherry Blossoms along the Tidal Basin for more than 6 years, I challenge myself to uncover a new perspective or angle of the blooming trees each year.

On my fourth visit last week, I found a sweet position on the south side of the Tidal Basin. While there at sunrise, I figured out how to take a close-up photograph of the blossoms while the Jefferson Memorial lingered in the background.

Today's photograph was one of the highlights of my Cherry Blossom photo excursions this year.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Disappearing Monument

It's been quite a week of Cherry Blossom walking and photographing, although the weather has been less than stellar. Most of my sunrise excursions this week have been met with either fog or rain -- neither good photography weather.

What happened to the warm, sunny weather that brought out the blossoms a week earlier that projected? Who knows. All I'm hoping for is that blue skies and bright days will soon be at our doorstep once more.

However, I must admit that the overcast skies at the Tidal Basin and along the Potomac River created this cool moment where the top of the Washington Monument seemed to disappear in the fog. While grey skies aren't my favorite photo backdrops, I have to admit this moment was fun to capture.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Delicate Cherry Blossoms

They're here! They're here! Ok, I know the blooming Cherry Blossom tress are more "it" than "they," but to me, "they" are old friends and deserve a pronoun as such.

Today I visited the Tidal Basin for my annual sunrise Cherry Blossom photo adventure and wasn't disappointed. I look forward to the blossoms' brief visit each spring and I'm ecstatic that they are finally here.

In spite of the fog and overcast skies, the blossoms were near peak bloom and spectacular, especially the white blossom cherry trees. While the pink blossom cherry trees were not yet in full bloom, they should be peaking in the next 24-36 hours.

After six years of visiting the cherry blossoms, I am still in awe of the delicacy of the blossoms. The petals are so fine and fragile and vulnerable to wind and rain. Weather forecasts predict thunderstorms and rain this week, which will cause the trees to lose their blossoms faster.

If you're in the DC area and planning to visit the Cherry Blossoms this year, go to the Tidal Basin as soon as you can. Once the rain storms arrive, there is no telling how long the blossoms will be around.

MLK Profile and the Cherry Blossoms

Today's photograph features one of the benefits of shifting positions -- a whole new perspective on a single subject.

Even if I capture a great photo of a subject, I always step back and look for another position to photograph it.

A new vantage might result in an even cooler composition.

MLK Memorial and the Cherry Blossoms

The arrival of the new MLK Memorial on the National Mall brought new Cherry Blossom trees to the growing collection along the Tidal Basin.

Since they are young trees, their full bloom was not very impressive this year. However, I can only imagine the visual possibilities with the memorial once they are full grown.

Today's photograph is a little preview of what's to come.

Framing Jefferson

The most popular monuments to be photographed during Cherry Blossom season are the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial. After six years of Cherry Blossom photo excursions, I have plenty of images of both accompanied by blossoms.

While FDR, and now the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, also reside in the Cherry Blossoms zone, but they don't stand out among the blossoms as the Jefferson and Washington tributes do.

This year, I spent a lot of time photographing the Jefferson with the Cherry Blossoms. Today's photograph is one of the better images from my first visit.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Cloudy Sky Sunset

Cloudy skies make for amazing sunsets. Over the past week, we've had cloudy or overcast skies around sunset, producing spectacular color displays in the sky.

It is as if the clouds form a special canvas for the sun's rays to paint the sky between the horizon line and the edge of the cloud cover.

The daily panorama often reminds me of the "calm before the storm," and serves as a quiet, sweet prelude before the rain and thunderstorms begin.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Honoring Your Calling

Oprah Winfrey once said:
There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It's why you were born. And how you become most truly alive.
Each spring, flowers honor their calling to bloom. Unlike flowers, we don't have to wait until spring for our lives to bloom. We can start blooming any day.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Springing into a New Season

Warmer weather following a mild winter brought spring flowers out much earlier this year. Around every corner in my neighborhood, daffodils, magnolias and now even tulips, are blossoming and bringing color to local gardens.

Even the National Parks Service announced this week that the Cherry Blossoms would be blooming much earlier than originally projected; peak bloom on the Tidal Basin is now projected for March 20-23.

While I'm excitedly planning my spring photo outings over the next week, I am saddened by the early arrival of spring. An early spring means that the plants won't fully develop before blooming. As a result, their stems will be shorter and blooms won't last as long.

Is climate change the cause of this fast-tracked spring? Perhaps. Only time will tell. However, an earlier, shorter spring season does encourages us to stop right now and smell the flowers, because who knows how long we will have to enjoy them this year.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Where to Start Finding Ourselves

In an article in O, The Oprah Magazine, Anne Lamott wrote:
We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Be Anything

Academy Award-winning costume designer Sir Cecil Beaton once said:
Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.
Well Sir Cecil, I'm working on that.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cherry Blossom Peak Announcement Day

Every year, I look forward to the day the National Parks Service with the National Cherry Blossom Festival announce the peak bloom dates for the Cherry Blossoms. And today is the day!

Once the peak bloom dates are announced, then my planning begins. I'll mark the dates for my early morning walks beneath the Cherry Blossoms with my camera. This year, I'm planning on taking a cruise on the Potomac River during peak bloom. I'll have to book that soon after the announcement as well.

 I'm guessing that this year's strange weather may bring the peak bloom date out earlier in March than usual, but you never know. I'll update this post later today once the peak dates are revealed.

Hopefully, it will be a spectacular bloom this year, especially since we'll be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the city of Tokyo, Japan's gift of 3,000 cherry trees to the city of Washington, DC in 1912.

UPDATE 3/1/12 10:58 AM ET: 2012 peak bloom is projected to be March 24-31. If this projection holds true, it will be the first time since moving to DC in 2005 that I will miss the blossoms. I'll be on vacation that week. Well, here's to 2013.