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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
On the other hand, we do have lots of ducks here in Washington. Here are two mallards. I love the coloring of male mallards.
We also have lots of birds of the metallic kind, such as this jetBlue passenger airplane taking off from National Airport.
I had no idea that January could be such a great time to shoot birds.
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.
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.