Cherry Blossom Festival 2019, Washington DC

Being a local, I can vouch that spring is the best time to visit Washington DC. Just when locals bid goodbye to the long brutal winter, tourists pour into the city from all around the world to see the arrival of spring in the nation’s capital. Approximately 3,000 cherry trees around the tidal basin area go to their full bloom during this time of the year. These trees were presented as a gift from the Mayor of Tokyo to the city of Washington DC in 1912 as a symbol to celebrate the friendship between Japan and America. In DC metro area, the arrival of spring is celebrated with the Cherry Blossom Festival which is a month long program that involves various outdoor activities including the marching band parades, music, showmanship and many other events. These pink and white cherry blooms look so amazingly beautiful, they leave the viewers wonderstruck. Above all, this festival is a stunning opportunity for photography enthusiasts from across the country and all around the world.

During the peak bloom period, it can be a real struggle to find a good spot to photograph without getting tourists or other fellow photographers in the frame. Last year, I reached the tidal basin area at around 6:30 AM and quickly realized that I was late. Because of the crowd, I was not able to take a single photo the way I had imagined. On the good side, I was able to put aside my camera and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the cherry blossoms. Learning from my past experience, I decided to go little earlier this year but still bumped into few tourists and a couple of photographers who came to photograph the sunrise. While people were waiting for the sunrise, I was setting up the camera on the tripod and getting ready for the blue hour shots. It was a cold and a windy morning, and taking a long exposure shot for the blue hour was a challenging task without getting part of the image blurred. After finding a proper composition, I took a few shots but it all came out blurry because of the swinging tree branches. I patiently waited for the wind to stop and managed to get one good shot. The picture below was taken at aperture value of f/11, exposure time of 25 seconds, ISO 64 and focal length of 22mm using the Nikon D810 body and the Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G lens.

Cherry Blossom and The Blue Hour (click the image to view full size)

My idea was to get the early morning blue hour shot and then gradually start taking pictures after the sunrise. Along with the sunrise, more tourists and photographers arrived at the tidal basin and got ready to capture the glimpse of the cherry flowers glowing with the sunlight. The picture below is one of the shot I captured right after the sunlight hit the flowers.

Cherry Tree Branch.jpg

As I was walking around the tidal basin and getting shots from different angles, I saw this amazingly beautiful flower smiling with the morning sunlight.

Cherry Closeup.JPG

Here is another close-up shot of the cherry blossoms. I think the camera was not able to do the justice to these beautiful flowers but I tried my best.

Cherry Flower.JPG

And here is the Martin Luther King Jr. watching the cherry blossoms festival.

MLK and Cherry Blossom.jpg

When you walk around the tidal basin, you get countless opportunities to capture the beautiful cherry blossoms and surrounding landscapes. In the shot below, I tried to capture the Washington Monument and frame the cherry blossoms as well. I wanted to keep everything in focus but my 70-200mm didn’t let me focus on the nearest cherry blossoms without moving back and changing my composition. Instead of changing the composition, I decided to focus on the monument and blur the foreground cherry blossoms.

Washington Monument during Cherry Blossom.jpg

All of these shots were taken this Monday morning which was supposed to be the peak day for this year’s cherry blossom, according to the official website. If you have ever visited DC during the cherry blossoms festival, please share your experience with us.