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Posted at 12:45 PM ET, 04/ 1/2009

Cherry Blossom Morning

By Kevin Ambrose

* Showery Full Forecast | March Recap | Climate Controversy *
* Blossoms: Changing Dates | Poetry | Photos of Early Bloomers *

The light from the rising sun shines on the cherry blossoms near the Washington Monument Tuesday morning.

If you want to view the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin without the crowds, choose a weekday, just after sunrise. The tourists usually have not arrived in mass and there is plenty of parking available at the metro stations. Of course, you need to wake up early and it helps if you don't have to be at work that morning. I chose Tuesday morning because the blossoms were scheduled to be approaching peak and the weather was forecast to be clear and mild, which is not always a given for early spring in Washington. I was not disappointed.

Keep reading for more photos...

A blossom close-up with the Washington Monument in the background.

I had hoped to arrive at the Tidal Basin before sunrise to start my photo shoot, but I had trouble getting started Tuesday morning. I am not a morning person and the usual routine of taking out the dog, packing the gear, and driving to the Vienna metro station took longer than I had expected. I arrived at the Smithsonian Metro Station exactly at sunrise and took a quick photo of the Capitol (see below.) I wasn't too concerned about my late arrival, the first hour or two after sunrise is often the best time to photograph cherry blossoms.

The Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin, photographed after sunrise.

I hustled to the Tidal Basin, walking past the Washington Monument, pausing just long enough to take a few photos of the blossoms near the monument. I walked the trail around the Tidal Basin, taking photos of the landmarks, the blossoms, and a few people shots. I was pleasantly surprised that the trail was not clogged with tourists and photographers. I encountered a few joggers and bikers, and the scattered photographer and news reporter.

By 8:30am, the crowd was arriving and I made my way back to metro station, arriving home before 9:30am. It was a very pleasant trip and I know the same trip on a weekend would have been much more chaotic. I have included a few photos from my trip below.

A jogger on the Tidal Basin with the cherry blossoms approaching peak bloom.

The sun rises above the Jefferson Memorial.

The sunrise at the Capitol, photographed from the Smithsonian Metro Station.

Cherry blossoms frame the Jefferson Memorial.

By Kevin Ambrose  | April 1, 2009; 12:45 PM ET
Categories:  Cherry Blossoms, Photography  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: March in Review: Cool and Very Dry
Next: PM Update: Showers Fail to Produce Much Rain


Kevin, with tomorrow morning's early fog and mist, would you still recommend going and taking photographs right after sunrise (I will be using a digital snap and shoot, no filters).

Posted by: Snowlover2 | April 1, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Snowlover2, Absolutely, fog and mist can provide some of the best mood setting photos for cherry blossoms. However, with the low light conditions, it will be more challenging to photograph the scene than on a bright, sunny day. I'd recommend a tripod to minimize blurring. I'd also experiment shooting with and without a flash to get different exposures of light on the nearby blossoms. If you don't have a tripod, you can try raising the ISO level setting of the camera, it would help a little but may also raise the noise level in the image. Good luck!

Posted by: Kevin-CapitalWeatherGang | April 1, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the advice, Kevin :) I DO have a tripod, and I will take your suggestion and bring it. I was worried about the noise level in the image, but hadn't thought about using a tripod instead of raising the ISO level. My old tripod was so heavy it didn't get much use, but I now have a light small one that will be perfect to bring.

Posted by: Snowlover2 | April 1, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Snowlover2, One last tip, try to use a cable release or remote shutter control, if you have one. Pressing the shutter button on the camera by hand, even if the camera is on a tripod, could create a bit of blurring since that will shake the camera. If you don't have a remote shutter control, try setting your camera's timer to photograph after a delay of 5 seconds. That will allow the camera time to settle and stop moving before the photo is taken. I've used that trick when I have forgotten my cable release.

Posted by: Kevin-CapitalWeatherGang | April 1, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I don't have a remote shutter control- I'll use a delay. Wouldn't have thought of it. Thanks again, Kevin! I'm looking forward to getting out there tomorrow!

Posted by: Snowlover2 | April 1, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

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