Scouting Report: Getting Ready for Spring

The signs are unmistakable: the calendar says March, sunrise is coming earlier each day, the temperatures are rising, and the snow is disappearing.

Jefferson at Sunrise

Jefferson Memorial at Sunrise, March 12, 2012

After all, it’s been 3 years since I got a decent image on March 12th.  So yesterday afternoon (March 12th), I made a scouting run into the city to check out a few sites for possible photo opportunities.  As I made the rounds, it appeared that conditions were promising for a sunset image (see below) so I kept my eye on the clouds building up as I explored the area around the National Mall.

The scouting findings may be of interest to photographers in the Washington, DC area, others can skip to the end and see what happened at 7:25 PM.

Solar Cycle:  For the next few days, the late afternoon sun (when skies are clear) will be providing some opportunities as it illuminates the Federal Triangle Buildings along the north side of Constitution Avenue and the recently renovated Arts and Industries Building on Independence Avenue.

Fountains:  As usual at this time of year, virtually all of the fountains are still shut down for the winter.  This includes the fountains and pool at the World War II Memorial and the Reflecting Pool between the WW II Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.  In addition, the waterfall at the northwest corner of the Museum of the American Indian is dry and the waterfalls at the FDR Memorial are also turned off.

The Tidal Basin:  There is a significant amount of ice still in the Basin, but this should be melted in a few days.

National Gallery, East Wing: The large construction crane is finally gone, although there is still a considerable amount of fencing and construction equipment on the south and east sides of the building.  However, there are good angles on the west side of the building.

Ongoing Construction:  The US Capitol is still under scaffolding, of course, and the white plastic wrap covering part of the scaffolding has been altered for the worse (who would have thought that was possible) by adding a section with a tawdry taupe color.  The new African American Museum is still far from completion and news reports state that the opening date has been pushed back to early 2017.  There is better news a few blocks to the west where the interminable construction project for a relatively small flood control wall (17th Street and Constitution Avenue) is all but wrapped up.  The unsightly wooden fence on the northeast corner of 17th and Constitution is gone, leaving a rather graceful stone wall curving toward the Washington Monument.  Across 17th, the construction equipment has been removed and the landscaping seems completed.  However, there are still some chain link fences protecting the larger trees along 17th Street.

Upcoming Events

March 14: DC Rock ‘n Roll MarathonThe Start Time 7:30 AM likely will complicate efforts to photograph anything else so plan accordingly.  Details here.

March 20: The Equinox.  Check your Photographer’s Ephemeris app for an opportunity near you.

March 28: Kite Festival, the long-running kite festival will be in its usual location on the grounds of the Washington Monument starting at 10:00 AM.  For details, click here.

April 4: Full Moon. Check your Photographer’s Ephemeris app for an opportunity near you.

Kite Festival 02

Kite Festival

Kite Festival 03

Kite Festival

Sunset at the FDR Memorial

As the sun edged closer to the horizon last night, I made my way over to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial which is located on the west side of the Tidal Basin.  DC locals might think this is a strange location to capture a sunset, but I thought it would be a good backdrop for a specific feature at the Memorial.  The result is shown below.

Roosevelt Memorial

FDR Memorial at Sunset, March 12, 2015

(Technical Data: Nikon D800E with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens on tripod, extended to 24mm; exposure 1 sec. @f/16, EV = -1.0 ISO 400.)

The Memorial, on 7.5 acres chronicles the four terms of Roosevelt’s Presidency.  This section, with the five pillars and five panels on the wall, were intended to represent the social programs (New Deal) during his presidency. The design has been criticized as the “least successful” of the many sculptures in the Memorial, and I would agree that their intended symbolism is opaque.  Nevertheless, I have found them to be an interesting photographic subject.

Coming Soon–Iguazu Falls (Really!)

19 thoughts on “Scouting Report: Getting Ready for Spring

    • Thanks for visiting and the comments. The header image was taken from the rooftop of a high-rise building in Rosslyn, Virginia. There were two of us up there shooting for about 3 hours. A wedding reception was going on inside. The wedding photographer brought the bride and groom outside for a few minutes to take advantage of the view as a backdrop for some poses. All in all, it was a memorable evening.


      • Which high-rise was that, Robin? I used to work in the northern unit of the twin towers when USA Today and Gannett occupied them, and the header image is very similar to the view from that location.


  1. I loved reading all about the DC area and really loved the photos. The kites and the FDR Memorial are my favorites. I went to the Capitol once for a tour in 1997 and loved it! 2017??? Wow, long time.


    • Thanks, Laura. Good to hear from you, as always. Yikes! 1997?? Time for a return visit. There have been a few changes here since then, plus I’m sure some fairly detailed information on good photo spots would be available……


    • Thanks very much. That was one of those times when you are completely surprised and have only a few seconds to react. I wasn’t planning this long view of the Memorial and did not see the rapid change in the sky as I was walking through the tree-covered area around the FDR Memorial. When I came down the steps to the edge of the Tidal Basin, there it was. A low light situation, I took this one hand-held, and then started to set up the tripod. But it was gone in 20 seconds.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Although a lot of photographers made numerous pictures of the most famous Washington DC places it is never boring to watch them. All of the artists have their own vision, character and technique. Robin, you are in a good situation because you can make pictures of your lovely city at any season, any time of the day, in any weather conditions. Thank you for sharing your awesome pictures. Because of you and people like you all of us can enjoy the beauty of your city.


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