Capital Photography Center | Photography Classes in Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia

10 Tips For Photographing Cherry Blossoms

March 29, 2018 by Marie Joabar

We’re all eager to get outdoors with our cameras again and the Cherry Blossoms give us the first opportunity to capture the beauty of spring. It’s late to arrive here in the DC area, we just have to be patient, soon the Cherry Blossoms will present their spectacular display!

It’s not difficult to take a good photo of these lovely flowers but we wanted to share these tips so when they are in peak bloom, we’ll all be ready.

Photo courtesy of Corey Hilz. See the bottom of the article for the details on how Corey shot this **

1. Frame With Historic Landmarks

At the tidal Basin you’ll find the opportunity to frame them with the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Martin Luther King Memorial. 

Photo courtesy of Beth Haubach

2. Explore Other Locations

If you’ve been to the Tidal Basin try exploring other locations. The National Arboretum has a beautiful display, as does Meadowlark Gardens. Hanes Point is filled with cherry trees, and the grounds around the Capitol have a lovely display. Neighborhoods throughout the area offer their own charming cherry tree lined streets waiting to be photographed.

3. Visit More Than Once

Regardless of where you go, visit more than once. Seek out other vantage points, find where to position yourself for the best light and explore other opportunities that might have been missed on a prior visit.

4. Get Out Early Or Stay Out Late

Before sunrise or following sunset you can and capture a beautiful landscape shot with blossoms set against the vibrant blue sky found during civil twilight.

5. Include People Enjoying The Display

Depending on where you go, it can be difficult to capture Cherry Blossoms without people in the frame (unless you’re filling the frame with a beautiful blossom) so instead of fighting them, join them! Find interesting ways to include people in your shots. Make a story of the tourists in town enjoying the spectacle, play with slow shutter speeds to blur them as they walk through your scene. Frame them backlit and capture them as a silhouette framed in blossom branches.

6. Check The Focus

Don’t underestimate the importance of tack sharp focus! Choose what you want sharp by positioning your focus point on it. Zoom in during playback and ask yourself if the image is sharp where it should be, and where you or the viewer expect it to be?

7. Play With Backgrounds

Try several different backgrounds to show off the flowers. If you move a few feet to the left or right, will the background be cleaner? Can you position yourself so the background is blurred out greenery? Get low and frame them against a beautiful blue sky, you get the idea, find some blossoms or branches and work the framing. 

8. Don’t Forget To Look Down

As the petals start to drop we’ll find plenty of photo opportunities and interesting shots on the ground.

9. Find Reflections In Puddles

After a spring rain, look for puddles that offer Cherry Blossom reflections as creative abstracts.

10. Experiment With Flash

Using the flash as ‘fill’, we can light up blossoms that are in shade, the trick is to gently fill with flash so if using the pop-up, try backing up if the flash is too bright. With an External flash unit, try adjusting the power or use Flash Compensation and dial it up or down as needed.

We hope these tips help… we’d love to see what you capture, share your best shots with us on our Instagram page or on Facebook. We’ll share or repost some of our favorites!
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Cherry Blossoms class dates with spaces available are:
4/5  -  Early Morning
4/6  -  Early Morning
4/6  -  Fieldwork Photo Basics
4/14 - Early Morning 
We may also add 4/8... 

Click on the In-The-Field-Shooting Classes tab and scroll through the dates.

**  Corey explains his image (first image of blog); "The key for this image was using an expansive view of cherry blossom branches to frame the Washington Monument. I found a perspective that fit the monument in between the blossoms, and then I got down low angle in order to raise the branches up into the sky. It was important to avoid having the branches touch the monument, and to have separation between the branches and the land across the water." 
Corey used a 24mm lens (36mm for 35mm equivalent).