Stone Bridge, George Washington Memorial Parkway

Stone Bridge, George Washington Memorial Parkway
Stone Bridge, George Washington Memorial Parkway. Nikon D810, Tokina 17-35mm f/4 @35mm, ISO 64, f/16, 3 sec.

There are many stone bridges along the GW Parkway. The one in the photo above is located near one of my favorite sunset spots, Riverside Park. This vantage is located about halfway down an unofficial trail that leads to a rocky beach along the Potomac River.

In order to capture the full range of detail against a backlit sky, I hand-blended three varying exposures together in Photoshop. This is the same idea as shooting HDR (high-dynamic range), but with much greater finesse, control, and, ultimately, a more realistic photograph.

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George Washington Middle School, Mount Vernon Avenue

george-washington-middle-school-mount-vernon-avenue
George Washington Middle School, Mount Vernon Avenue. Nikon D200, 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/125 sec.

Architecture has always been a passion of mine. I am fascinated by the way lines intersect and branch off to form other shapes and patterns. The feeling that these two parts of the building converge somewhere that we can’t see is very interesting to me. Walk a little bit further to the left and it’s a completely different feeling.

I also love the way the trees filter the late afternoon sunlight, casting undulating patterns on the buildings. Once again we see the marriage of architecture and nature, if not necessarily intentional.

Snowy Branches, Commonwealth Avenue

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Snowy Branches, Commonwealth Avenue. Nikon D200, 50mm f/2 K, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/125 sec.

Here’s a little snow to remind you that it’s actually still winter in the northern hemisphere. Also, not a bad example of some of the beautiful architecture here in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria.

Northern Cardinal, Franklin Street

Northern Cardinal, Franklin Street. Nikon D200, 75-300mm AF @200mm, ISO 200, f/8, 1/500 sec.
Northern Cardinal, Franklin Street. Nikon D200, 75-300mm AF @200mm, ISO 200, f/8, 1/500 sec.

I’ve discussed the difficulty of photographing small birds before. Even with a 300mm lens (combined with the D200’s 1.5x crop factor for an effective reach of 450mm) you have to be pretty close to the bird in order to fill the frame with it. In the instance of this cardinal, I was shooting from my bathroom window.

That’s right, my bathroom window. I was standing in the tub.

I had been wanting to get a good photo of a cardinal for a while because it is my mom’s favorite bird. I spent all winter trying to get close to them at Huntley Meadows, and while I had a few decent pictures, none of them were really all that close. I had to crop a lot to get the bird larger and then ended up with less than ideal image quality.

Then one day later that year (in July, my EXIF data tells me), I was practicing in the empty upstairs bedroom (it’s not empty any longer), and I saw it! A male cardinal hanging out in the tree right outside the window. The thing was sitting in full sunlight about 15 feet from me. Pretty ideal conditions for sure, since harsh sunlight tends to help bring out detail in birds’ feathers.

After getting my camera out he had (of course) flown away, but it gave me time to get set up in the bathroom window. That window was even closer to the tree where he was perched and it was also easier to remove the screen from the window in that room. Once set up, I waited.

I didn’t take long before he was back and I was able to take a decent number of shots. Some of my favorites were right after he had puffed his feathers out and was preening. It’s almost like he knew he was being photographed, and decided to put on his best airs.

Thank you Mr. Cardinal. I appreciated it.

Autumn Colors, Huntley Meadows Park

Autumn Colors, Huntley Meadows Park. Nikon D200, 75-300mm AF @112mm, ISO 400, f/6.3, 1/100sec.
Autumn Colors, Huntley Meadows Park. Nikon D200, 75-300mm AF @112mm, ISO 400, f/6.3, 1/100sec.

Autumn is my favorite season, with winter being a close second. I love the holidays during these times of year, but I also relish the crispness in the air, the smell of wood fires, and the abundance of color.

Going through some older photos, I discovered the picture above. I took this last autumn in Huntley Meadows Park, one of my favorite retreats here in Alexandria. Huntley Meadows is somewhat of a hidden gem, nestled amongst strip malls, car dealerships, and apartment complexes. Once you enter the park, however, all of that melts away and you are in an oasis of wildlife and quiet refuge. I’ll be posting more Huntley Meadows photos soon, as I have a good deal of wildlife images from my adventures there.