The National Mall at Night.

Normally, I am a big chicken!  When I go to a large city, like Washington, DC, I want to get out of town before night falls.

But last night, Annette and I tried and experiment.  We left after work and went in to Washington, DC.

DC is only 1 1/2 hours from Hagerstown, where I work.  So, my thoughts were,  if we left at 5:00, we could be on the mall by 6:30 and try to capture the great evening light through sunset and into the twilight.

Unfortunately, the best laid plans of mice and men sometimes go astray.

We had to stop and get gas and something to eat.  So that took time.

We were going to eat in the car, but we were in our little, two-seat convertible and the limited room would make eating a feat.  So we stopped at the rest area and had a little picnic.  That took time.

Last night was right in the middle of the Cherry Blossom Festival, so we figured that there would be a lot of people downtown and that there would not be a lot of parking, so we dicided to take the Metro.  We got off of the highway at Shady Grove and some how missed the turn to the Metro.  So that took time.

Then we go back on the highway and went to Rockville.  At the Rockville Metro station, I pulled into the drop off area and had to circle around again to get to the correct parking lot.  So that took time.

Then the Metro is slower than driving a car at 70 mph, so that took time.

Last night the sun set at 7:24.  We came up out of the Smithsonian Metro stop at just a few minutes before 8:00!  I remember coming up the escalator into the open and looking up.  The sky was such a deep, rich blue!  Unfortunately, that meant that the sunset was gone.

But we did our best.  We got some shots of the capital and of the Washington monument.  But we did not go to the tidal basin, where the most abundant cherry blossoms are.

We briefly talked to another photographer, with his camera on a tripod and he said to make sure we got the two planets in the picture.  I don’t know where the two planets were, but his camera was pointed towards the Washington Monument with only two “lights” in the sky.  So I assume that they are the planets.  (I hope you astronomy buffs can forgive my ignorance!)

Washington Monument with the planets

Annette recently got an early birthday present for me; an 11-22mm lens.  So I had to try it out.  I used the lens in this next picture and, even though I was quite close to the monument, I was able to get it all in the frame.  Oh!  And I got the planets, too!

Wide angle shot of the Washington Monument

 Photographer’s trade-off:  To get the exposure I had to choose between two choices:
1.  Using a high ISO, which would allow a faster shutter speed to freeze the flags, but would also add noise/grain to the image.
2.  Using a lower ISO and a longer shutter speed, which would reduce the noise but would show the flags as blurry.
Obviously, I chose the latter.  Another photographer may choose differently.

These next two pictures are very similar, so you have a choice.  Let me know which one you like best.

The first one tells a little bit more of a story.  You will notice that there is a large truck coming up the dirt walking path on the mall.  That seemed unusual to me.  As I watched his progress, I found out that he was delivering supplies for the set up of an installation for the crowds that are still coming to the Cherry Blossom Festival.

The second one is a little tighter shot and keeps most of the people out of the frame.

We didn’t leave the mall until 10:00.  Because we had to take the Metro (at the same time that a Capitals hockey game let out) and had to stop and pick up my car at work, we didn’t get home until nearly 1:00 a.m.!  I’m getting too old for late nights!