I returned to the Tidal Basin yesterday afternoon to check on the progress of the Cherry Blossoms. The marching battalions of pre-scheduled tours are now in full swing, the tour buses that brought them here are jostling for parking spots, and the weather is balmy. But the trees have other ideas. And the absence of photographers with tripods confirmed what I expected: “Still too soon.” But the trip wasn’t a total loss, and I’ll get to that in a minute.
So here is an image showing the status of the cherry blossoms. The buds in the foreground–like all the others on the nearby trees–are still quite tight, or at least they were as of about 7:15 PM last night. I guess it will be sometime this weekend before any blossoms actually emerge. The official Festival prediction for peak blooming to appear is still April 8th and I see no reason to dispute that. (Technical data: Nikon D800E, 24-70 mm lens set at 55 mm, no tripod: 1/50th sec. @ f/18, ISO 1600)
Still, you never want to come away without any images, so I worked on a panorama composition as the twilight blue after sunset began to intensify. This was taken about 20 minutes after sunset. It could be a great composition to use when the blossoms hit their peak, but I suspect that the walkway will be cluttered with fellow photographers. (Technical data: Nikon D800E, 24-70 mm lens set at 35 mm, using tripod, 3 images shot with aperture priority set @ f/16, shutter ranged from 6-10 secs.; ISO 400)
As a side note, you can see the dark forms of protective netting around the trunks of the trees. I assume this is intended to frustrate any beavers that might want to use the trees for gnawing practice. There is at least one of them there; it swam within two meters of me, but submerged immediately when I began to swing my camera in its direction. Curses! Foiled again.
Aside from the brief excitement of a close encounter with a beaver, the trip downtown also enabled me to check the status of some repair work projects on the mall. As indicated in the panorama image, the removal of the scaffolding on the Washington Monument is now below the tree line. There is still about 10 meters to go, but I am hopeful that the scaffolding and the construction fence will be removed in time for the Lunar Eclipse on April 15. There is more good news: The World War II Memorial fountains are now up and running at full power and the lighting is also operating. A closer inspection will be needed to see whether the repairs on the west side of the Memorial are finished.
So stay tuned for the next episode of the exciting mystery: “Are they out yet?”