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What to shoot in D.C.?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by DeeJayK, Apr 8, 2015.

  1. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    I'm leaving in a few days for a spring break trip with the family to the northeast (US) -- I've already covered Boston and NYC in previous posts. I'm looking for suggestions of attractions and events that might lead to interesting photo opportunities. The trip isn't primarily a photo excursion (I probably won't be bringing a tripod), but I'd love to come away with some frame-able images to remember the trip by. I'm traveling with my wife and two kids (aged 9 & 10).

    We'll be in Washington for four nights in mid-April (17-21). We're staying near Gallaudet/NoMa. We're planning on hitting all the highlights on the National Mall as well as visiting some of the museums. The Museum of American History is at the top of our list. We may bypass the Air & Space Museum since we feel we've done aviation museums elsewhere and the kids don't have a keen interest in the subject. We'll also likely avoid the Natural History Museum since we plan to attend the one in NYC. We've got tours of the White House and Capitol lined up.

    What are your favorite photo vantage points around the city to get images that capture the essence of the place? Any particularly good places to people watch? It seems that we might catch at least the tail end of the cherry blossoms.

    I'm also open to any restaurant suggestions you care to share. Beyond Ben's Chili Bowl what are the iconic D.C. staples? Any "secret" local knowledge you care to share is greatly appreciated.
  2. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    No D.C. folks around here?
  3. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    It's been years since I've been there, but definitely check out the Vietnam Memorial Wall and the WW2 Memorial.

    The Smithsonian is fun. You also have your usual stuff, like the Lincoln memorial, White House, Washington monument and reflecting pool.
    I'll also add walking some of the streets as well. Nice architecture all around, really.

    Beyond that, I'm really limited in what else.
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  4. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 7, 2010
    I think the frame-able shots are really all about the monuments, as others are saying. My favorite is the view of Washington Monument from Lincoln Memorial at night.

    If the kids want some fun beyond typical stuff consider the Spy Museum. We were just there with our 10 year old and she loved it.
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  5. ex machina

    ex machina Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 3, 2014
    Baltimore, MD
    The Library of Congress is often overlooked, have some shots here. The Vietnam Memorial is surprisingly powerful, at night and in daylight. The MLK memorial should look really nice among the cherry blossoms, as will the Roosevelt and Jefferson Memorials. Georgetown's Key Bridge is an iconic sight during the golden hour, best seen from canoe/kayak/paddleboards that can be rented cheaply just to the west of the bridge. National Zoo and National Cathedral are other big photo opportunities that come to mind. I always enjoy the Hirshhorn and its sculpture garden for modern art, and the National Portrait Gallery near Chinatown is pretty awesome.

    If your family is into geocaching I have a series of caches in town meant to expose folks to DC's wealth of hidden murals, and five of them are within blocks of Ben's Chili Bowl. Also on U Street is Dukem, a famous Ethiopian spot, and next to the White House is the iconic Old Ebbit Grill.

    Hope that helps a bit, and enjoy your visit!
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  6. ex machina

    ex machina Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 3, 2014
    Baltimore, MD
    Oh! And the place to eat on The Mall is the food court in the National Museum of the American Indian -- actually a foodie destination for its native-regional style cuisine. The aztec/mayan-style hot chocolate is amazing, earthy and a hint of jalapeño. The museum's architecture is pretty shot-worthy as well.
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  7. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    Search out the Korean War Memorial statues while on the Mall. They're largely ignored due to proximity to the Vietnam memorial, but is one of my favorite war memorials the way it's set up.

    The Iwo Jima memorial and Arlington are powerful, iconic images.

    If yo like air and space, the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy museum near Dulles Airport is a great place to take some pictures of great planes. There's a Space Shuttle there and Simulators. Kids will love it and it's never crowded like Air & Space on the Mall.
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  8. WendyK

    WendyK Super Moderator

    Feb 28, 2014
    Northern Virginia
    The National Building Museum is a beautiful space. Sometimes they have family friendly exhibits, like interactive Lego exhibits.

    One of my absolute favorite spots is Dumbarton Oaks, a grand house and garden designed on a hillside in Georgetown by Beatrix Farrand over thirty years in the first half of the 20th century. Beautiful plantings, some truly magnificent trees, but really extraordinary from a landscape design point of view. Wonderful stone work, metal work, brick work, mosaics and statuary, much of it beautifully aged, moss-covered, etc. I am not sure if your kids would enjoy it or not, but if that sounds interesting, see http://www.doaks.org.
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  9. DaninFLA

    DaninFLA Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 2, 2015
    Lots of great places to shoot in DC. if you are near the mall, the monuments of course are a good place. If you have a car and get away from DC a bit, I like the Arboretum (must see if you want to photograph flowers). another good spot is the canals and great falls. lots of really cool stuff. here are some pics I took in DC. I lived in Annapolis the past 4 years and just moved back to florida. you could literally spend days just walking around the monuments and building with a tele getting architectural details. some samples of stuff I took in DC:

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  10. TwoWheels

    TwoWheels Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 28, 2014
    British Columbia
    I used to live in southeastern PA, about 2-3 hours from DC. There's lots to see, do and photograph there. You have a more than full agenda of possibilities already based on the suggestions above. They're all good--the Mall, the memorials, the museums, the buildings. For what it's worth, the two museums you've mentioned as no-go's, the Air & Space and Natural History, are probably two of the specific ones I would have suggested. Having said that, the natural history museum in NYC is very good too. And it all depends on what your family likes to do and the amount of time you have. We'll look forward to seeing some good pictures when you return.
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  11. GBarrington

    GBarrington Mu-43 Top Veteran

    I used to live in Reading, Pa about 2 - 8 hours or so from DC depending on the traffic in Washington and Baltimore (practically twin cities and both with miserable traffic). Photographically, Washington is mostly a monuments town. What you will see there is mostly tourist type photo opportunities. Shooting that kind of stuff can be fun, but I think most people, later will say when reviewing their own photos, "I've seen all this before".

    I was surprised though by the number of really good restaurants in that town. You might want to shift your emphasis to something other than photography there.
  12. bigboysdad

    bigboysdad Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 25, 2013
    Sydney/ London
    Alas, when I was there, the Smithsonian banned photography from its museums, hope its not like that still.
  13. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Killarney, OzTrailEYa
    Congress? Maybe ...
  14. ex machina

    ex machina Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 3, 2014
    Baltimore, MD
    Banned in the Hirschhorn, maybe Flash photography is banned in the National Portrait Gallery, but everywhere else is afaik kosher to shoot.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2015
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  15. Roger

    Roger Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 2, 2011
    Western PA
    If the blossoms are still in when you get there, the Tidal Basin is a great spot for photos-blossoms in the foreground and Jefferson or Washington in the background. You should have tulips in bloom to put in the foregrounds of some of your shots. Night affords endless opportunities. I think the Korean Memorial is very moving when seen a night but hard to shot. If I were going again soon, I'd like to try some night shots of the capital with the scaffold around the dome. For something different, I like to eat at the ethnic shops at Union Station, Old Post Office, or the Reagan Building. Enjoy your trip. A thought (from experience)-too much photography can be hard on the kids and the wife.
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