Chasing sunsets and waterfalls in Shenandoah

June 07, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Sunset from Hawksbill SummitSunset from Hawksbill SummitA sunset viewed from the summit of Hawksbill Mountain in Shenandoah National Park, featuring a beautiful sky, lush forests, and jagged rocks. Hawksbill summit is the highest point in Shenandoah National Park. The summit of Hawksbill Mountain is the highest point in Shenandoah, with an elevation of 4,050 feet (1,234 meters).

I recently returned to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. It's one of my favorite places and I try to visit often. During my last visit, I climbed to the summit of Hawksbill Mountain. At 4,050 feet (1,234 meters), it's the highest point in Shenandoah and a really great place to shoot a sunset, like the one above.

I also visited South River Falls. There are many waterfalls in Shenandoah. This one isn't the tallest or the most frequently visited, but it is certainly one of the most beautiful. I love the tranquility of the space, enclosed by lush forest. I suspect it would be more frequently visited if the trail were a little less steep and a little less rocky.

Tranquility at South River FallsTranquility at South River FallsSouth River Falls in Shenandoah National Park, featuring the waterfall, a tranquil pool, lush vegetation, and moss covered rocks.

I actually took numerous photos of South River Falls. I really like the angle and composition of the first one, but the second one (below) is also quite nice with the sun peeking through the foliage.

Peeking at South River FallsPeeking at South River FallsThe late afternoon sun peeks through a lush tree canopy on the South River Falls waterfall, moss covered rocks, and a tranquil pool in Shenandoah National Park.

While in Shenandoah, I also stopped by Big Meadows late at night. It was a mostly clear night without any moon. Those are perfect conditions for astrophotography. The following is a photo of the galactic core of the Milky Way stretching above the meadow.

Big Meadows Milky WayBig Meadows Milky WayA starry sky over Big Meadows in Shenandoah National Park, featuring the galactic core of the Milky Way galaxy.


Sunset on the D.C. skyline

May 27, 2021  •  1 Comment

Sunset on WashingtonSunset on WashingtonThe sun sets on Washington, D.C. Featuring the Washington skyline, the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, the Capitol, and dramatic clouds.

A couple of weeks ago, NASA had scheduled to launch a rocket from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. I thought it might make for a nice photo to shoot the Washington, D.C., skyline with the rocket rising in the distance. Unfortunately, NASA scrubbed the launch because of high winds. However, while I was waiting around for the launch, I got some great photos of the D.C. skyline at sunset. I've found that planning is an important part of landscape photography. An equally important part is being able to adapt when your plans don't work out.

Clouds Over the Washington SkylineClouds Over the Washington SkylineThe Washington skyline shortly before sunset. Featuring the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Capitol, and dramatic clouds.

Sunshine on LincolnSunshine on LincolnThe sun shines a spotlight on the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., as the sun starts to set. Also featuring the Capitol and the Washington skyline.

Last Rays of Light on WashingtonLast Rays of Light on WashingtonThe last rays of sunlight hit the Washington Monument and the Capitol in Washington, D.C., as the sun dips below the horizon. Also featuring the Lincoln Memorial and dramatic clouds.


Sunrise and cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin

April 09, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Spring twilight at the Tidal BasinSpring twilight at the Tidal BasinSpring twilight at the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC, during the cherry blossom bloom. Featuring the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

Spring dawn at the Tidal BasinSpring dawn at the Tidal BasinSpring dawn at the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC, during the cherry blossom bloom. Featuring the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

Spring sunrise at the Tidal BasinSpring sunrise at the Tidal BasinSpring sunrise at the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC, during the cherry blossom bloom. Featuring the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

This year, winter in Washington was long and dreary. We had lots of that hybrid rain and snow that we call “wintry mix.” It seemed like it would never end, but now it has. I cannot imagine a more dramatic end to such a winter than the arrival of cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin. It’s a truly magnificent sight. I feel so blessed to live here in Washington and to be able to experience the arrival of spring with the cherry blossoms.

Cherry blossoms at first lightCherry blossoms at first lightCherry blossoms lit with the early morning sun. New growthNew growthA new twig with blossoms grows forth from a cherry tree.

 


January birds

January 08, 2021  •  1 Comment

Sitting RegallySitting RegallyA bald eagle sits regally on a bare branch in Washington, D.C.

I recently came across a bald eagle here in Washington, D.C. I was very excited to see it and have my camera with me! I absolutely love raptors, especially bald eagles, and I'm thrilled to have these photos!

Ruffled FeathersRuffled FeathersA bald eagle with ruffled feathers sits on a bare branch in Washington, D.C.

Sitting AlertSitting AlertA bald eagle sits on a bare branch in Washington, D.C.

This bald eagle wasn't the only bird I saw recently. I also came across this blue jay. We don't have a lot of blue jays here in Washington and I'm very fond of of these birds too. I feel very fortunate to get this photo.

Blue JayBlue JayA northern blue jay at rest.

On the other hand, we do have lots of ducks here in Washington. Here are two mallards. I love the coloring of male mallards.

Two MallardsTwo MallardsA male mallard duck and a female mallard duck swim in the Potomac River.

We also have lots of birds of the metallic kind, such as this jetBlue passenger airplane taking off from National Airport.

Metallic Blue BirdMetallic Blue BirdA Jet Blue passenger jet airplane takes off from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

I had no idea that January could be such a great time to shoot birds.


Christmas at the Capitol

December 11, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Capitol Christmas ReflectionsCapitol Christmas ReflectionsEarly morning at the Capitol. The Capitol dome and the 2020 Capitol Christmas Tree are reflected in the Capitol Reflecting Pool. Also visible is the inauguration stage that is under construction.

Every year, I try to shoot the Capitol Christmas Tree. Usually I shoot it just after sunset, when the tree lights are on, but it's not so dark that the sky turns black. This year, I decided to try shooting just before sunrise. However, I wasn't sure whether it would work at that time of day and the overcast sky did not look promising.

When I arrived, the reflecting pool was perfectly placid, creating an amazing mirror image of the Capitol and tree. Then, after taking only two pictures, the wind picked up and destroyed the reflection. I might have packed up to go home then. The cloud cover was discouraging. An overcast sky should have ensured a drab sunrise. Instead, I stuck around and only five minutes later, the sun found a small break in the clouds, right along the horizon, and turned the sky a brilliant fuchsia color.

Fuchsia skies and Capitol Christmas TreeFuchsia skies and Capitol Christmas TreeBrilliant fuchsia skies over the Capitol just before sunrise, featuring the 2020 Capitol Christmas Tree and the inauguration stage under construction.

It was a brilliant sunrise! I'm glad I experimented with the sunrise and stuck it through after the wind picked up. Incidentally, if you look past the Christmas tree, you can see the inauguration stage under construction in the background.

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