100 Years of Cherry Blossoms! Take a Picture!

Yep, 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of Washington D.C.’s cherry trees being planted around the Tidal Basin. These trees, a gorgeous gift from Japan, are celebrated every year during the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which brings flocks of tourists (and photographers!) to Washington to marvel at the fleeting explosion of pink and white.  This year the D.C. Commission on Arts & Humanities has organized a public arts festival to coincide with the blossom madness and the folks at FotoDC are holding a photography contest with different categories and great prizes.  Peak bloom this year is expected early, between March 24 and March 31.

The blooms are crazy-photogenic, but can be challenging to shoot as you jostle with thousands of others determined to get that perfect shot (or just happily gawking). Local photographer Brandon Kopp recently wrote up a great and detailed blog entry full of tips on shooting the blossoms which I thought was worth a link!

So just for fun, here are a few shots from around the web that I found special:

Photo by Navin Sarma

That’s just plain beautiful.


Image: Gawker

Stormy blossoms win with me!


Photo by Kevin Ambrose

WOW! Really stormy blossoms…


Kevin Ambrose/Washington Post

Sunrise is an extremely popular time to photograph the cherry blossoms, but there will be plenty of competition. I think I might head down there at night; I love night photography and it should be quiet. Worked well in the image above.

Let me know if you’ve got any special blossom photos; I’d be happy to share.



Wander around Eastern Market in Capitol Hill and you’ll find plenty of beautiful photographs of DC, ready to buy and hang on your wall. Increasingly, you’ll also see breathtaking shots of the city in HDR: high dynamic range.

Notice the difference between this and the non-HDR photo in the blog heading. (Click for Source)

Through the use of post processing software, several photographs taken at varying shutter speeds are combined into one image. This composite image is supposed to more accurately represent what the human eye sees – with detail in both areas of shadow and light and rich color saturation. HDR isn’t very new as far as photography tech, but I’ve already admitted I’m slightly behind the curve/old fashioned (picking on Instagram, marveling at camera phones).

World War II Memorial in HDR (Click for Source)

I’m interested in how HDR photography is perceived in the photography community. The public seems to eat up these images, which are without doubt, striking and intriguing (and pinned like mad on Pinterest). But is it photography in the traditional sense or more of a hybrid art form? Photographers presenting their work online will often preface an image title with “HDR” and the Washington Post also clearly identified such photos in a recent publication (yet still stirred up debate.)

The controversial Washington Post photo, published January 2012

I’ve yet to see an HDR photograph show up in National Geographic, which has a strict policy of straight photography; image content cannot be altered. But if HDR photography really is closer to what the human eye sees, then should it even be a problem? Predictably, John Omvik, the VP of an HDR software company, says it’s totally appropriate. “If one really wants to split hairs about what is ‘real’and what isn’t, consider this: from the moment you open your eyes in the morning until the moment you close them at night, everything you see in the world around you is in HDR,” says Omnik. He goes on to argue that HDR is more true to reality than the black and white film traditionally used in photojournalism.

Even the Metro is pretty in HDR! (Click for Source)


Personally, I still feel HDR is more appropriate for fine art photography than photojournalism.  I may be a bit skeptical because  many HDR photographs I”ve seen don’t really look like anything I’ve seen in real life. Would love to hear your take…. in the meantime we’ll let an HDR Jefferson ponder upon it…

(click image for source)

The Old is New Again (and vice versa…)

Behold this atmospheric and painterly photo of the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden Ice Rink. Taken by my good friend, photographer and fellow Shepherd University graduate, Martin Cherry, with none other than his iPhone.

Thank you for sharing, Marty!

The picture was taken using the Instagram app. I’ve seen stacks of these photographs popping up on Facebook, random photos of lunches and flowers and curtains and pets, all with a nostalgic, vintage feel and arty square format. While fun to look at, I’ve noticed a nagging feeling of annoyance when viewing Instagram images. Is it that I know that the app does the majority of the work, instantly transforming snapshots into retro style images through the use of various filters?That these old-timey photos are actually the work of a  quite high-tech gadget? That the app probably has the ability to make an otherwise uninteresting photo artistic and cool?

photo taken from the Instagram blog

I find it fascinating that with the current availability of relatively cheap digital SLRs (and even high quality point-and-shoots), we are so charmed by the ability to instantly create digital images that look as if they’ve been yellowing in a box since 1972. I suspect it’s just one form of the back to the earth pull for authenticity so many are feeling. Instagram images remind us of the deep color and tangibility of film.

Another photo from the Instagram blog

Anyway, who am I fooling. I’m sure to download this app as soon as I get an iPhone. Amplicate.com has a current poll up showing that out of over 36,000 users, 91% LOVE Instagram. One aspect contributing to popularity is the ease of sharing with other friends who have the app. And that is one of the great joys of photography, capturing and sharing our particular vision of the world around us.

Do you use Instagram? Even if you don’t,  please, let us know your thoughts on the app in the comments.