Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC - Photography Walking Tour

One of my favorite times of the year is late March / early April when the cherry blossom blooms are at peak levels.  This year they are expected to peak about April 2 - 6.  Of course, it is really a guessing game as any change in weather patterns can alter that target window.  That is part of the fun, of course -- watching and waiting for the right time to head out and capture a scene that is rather unique to our area.

The early morning is a great time to photograph the cherry blossoms and the nearby monuments.  You do not have to contend with the literally thousands of people that flock to the tidal basin after sunrise this time of year.
For the past few years I have been leading dedicated photographers out long before sunrise to help them learn how to take fabulous photographs using both long-exposure and flash.  This year is no different.

Follow along with me again this year if you wish to learn how to use your camera and flash to create more exciting photos of the cherry blossoms.

This early morning tour is geared towards the advanced-beginner to mid-level photographer looking for a unique take on one of our city's most beautiful treasures. Guidance will be given for taking beautiful photos, but we will move fast and cover a lot of information as well as a lot of ground in the short time available before the night quickly turns to day.  You should be familiar with how to change the settings on your camera, even if you do not know exactly how or why they work the ay they do.

We will cover shooting long night exposures and mixing those with flash. As the sun starts to rise, we'll be adjusting the flash to work under those environments and highlight the pitfalls this might cause. We'll end with the fabulous sight, weather willing, of the sun rising behind the Jefferson Memorial.

NOTE:  I am limiting this tour to five dedicated persons.
You must be willing to be up and out, on time, well before the sun rises. Contact me directly for more information at:

Current plans are for Apr 6 and possibly Apr 7, but weather and nature's timing may require plans to change.

What you need:
* You will need a tripod. Borrow or rent one if necessary.
* You will need a camera capable of manual control of aperture and shutter speed. Bulb-mode or manual shutter release is highly suggested but not strictly required.  Any DSLR will work fine.  Most point and shoot-cameras will also have these features, but may have them buried in menus.  Be sure you know how to set these before attending.
* Having a your own external flash is not strictly required, but will be very helpful.
*A flash that includes High Speed Sync is a plus and may be required for some daylight shooting.
* Bring extra batteries for the camera and the flash.  Long exposures eat batteries, and we will be using flash extensively.
* Lens choices vary,
     - You will likely want wide angle for monuments. i.e. 24-70mm full frame or 16-50mm crop sensor.
     - You may want to bring a zoom or macro lens around 100mm for close-up photos of the blossoms themselves.

Things to keep in mind when packing/dressing for this tour:
* It is often cold in the morning.  It has been near freezing some years.
We will be moving fast at times, but standing still at others.
Gloves and hand/toe warmers are not out of the question.  (then again, I've gone some years it has been 60 degrees... just be prepared)
* It often warms up significantly once the sun rises.  Wear layers. Check expected weather conditions.
* You may want to bring snacks or water.

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