Timing of an Image

I’ve lived in the D.C. area since 1997.  During that time, I’ve seen plenty of construction occurring throughout the DMV (D.C., Maryland, and Virginia to you out-of-towners).  When I first traveled across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, this area was undeveloped with trees along the bank of the Potomac.

Shortly afterward, the National Harbor construction began.  Over time, I watched them drudge out the mud and sediment and fashion this natural habitat to its current commercial state.  Whenever I drove across the bridge, I wondered how I could capture the new landscape.  However, I didn’t know where.  There’s a walkway for pedestrians and cyclists, but it’s on the inside of the bridge and cars would obstruct the view.  As I was riding my bike across the bridge one day, I took a path and it brought me to a clearing where I had a beautiful view of the Harbor.  I finally found my spot!  Now, I just needed to come back at the right time to capture the image.

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I read this photography article several years ago about the importance of timing.  I learned about photographing during twilight.  It forever changed my perspective about natural lighting.  It helped me to understand and capture images during a fleeting moment in time.  I liked the way I framed the image, but it doesn’t have much color with the dull gray sky.

I came early to prepare and practice and I ended with the following image.

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Along with this slightly wider angle version of the image as well.

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Once the magic moment passes, the image looks like this.

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The dark sky strips the color out of the image.  The twilight period with the blue sky lasts approximately 15 minutes.  It can be more or less depending on the time of year and weather conditions.  Therefore, it’s important to prepare early to be ready for the opportunity because one doesn’t know how long it’ll last.  A lesson for life within that story.  That’s why I keep shooting.



The Cherry Blossoms
Sunrise through the Jefferson Memorial

I began photographing the Cherry Blossoms around 2006.  It is a photographic rite of passage for most DC photographers.  Capturing these beautiful flowers with landscapes in the background becomes more difficult each year.  I took my iconic shot “Sunrise through the Jefferson Memorial” in 2007 and looking for new creative shots is always my goal.

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I was scheduled to do an engagement shoot and it was cancelled at the last minute.  It worked out well because this was the peak day for the Cherry Blossoms.  This unexpected free time was an invitation to exercise some creativity.

I carried the latest Canon camera and a great lens.  Yet, I pulled out my iPhone and used the Instagram app.  The simplicity of the device freed me of the complexities associated with a full-frame DSLR.  It ironically became my best image.



Last year was a disappointment.  A cloudy day greeted me after I arrived downtown at 6:00 AM.  The dreary sky robbed me of a memorable sunrise and my camera began to malfunction.  This year I avoided the sunrise and went to the Tidal Basin an hour or so before sunset.  Since, this is the most popular time around the Tidal Basin, the challenge is finding people-free spots so no one photo-bombs my images.  Getting up close, capturing details using the Macro function makes this an easier goal and  the sun’s soft colors would reward me with beautiful images.


People travel from around the country to see the flower show.  Capturing images apart from the basin can be keepers as well.  The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is very rewarding.  The waterfalls are beautiful and adding people to the image provide great results.


As the light fades, my favorite time of day appears, Twilight.  It also signals my time to depart.  Before I left, I used my flash to softly light the blossoms with the Jefferson Memorial in the background.  It capped a satisfying evening for me.