Last weekend, the photo sharing site Flickr and the United States Military invited a few photographers to come see the sun rise over Washington DC. Arlington National Cemetery opened early for us and we had a military escort accompany us to Arlington House to take pictures. Unfortunately, someone had forgotten to open the gates, so there wasn't much time left when we got to the location and everyone was scrambling to set up in time. (A big shout out to Flickr for providing coffee and donuts that early in the morning)
After catching a few sunrise shots, I was trying to catch some of the early morning mood over the graves, but unfortunately we were restricted as to where we could venture off and how long we could stay, so my friend Qiwu and I decided to head to Capitol Hill instead to catch some early morning views of the monuments. While waiting to get into our cars, Qiwu caught this picture of me:
We first headed to the Jefferson Memorial, which was completely abandoned except for the odd runner of late night partier passing by. I have been trying to get some no-people shots of the memorial for a while. Now I know the trick: Be there on a Sunday morning before 7am.
Next we headed over to the Lincoln Memorial, where street parking was plentiful. It's nice to be in DC and not having to scramble for a parking spot or park several blocks away. By the time we arrived at the Lincoln, the first buses had started shipping in tourists, but I was glad to catch a good shot with only a few people that were easy to take out in Photoshop. Seems like 7.30am is already too late to get an undisturbed view.
About two minutes after I got some fairly undisturbed shots of the interior, the first busloads of people started making their way up the stairs to the memorial. Less than a minute passed between my last undisturbed shot and this one, so timing is everything.
At this point, taking pictures without people in them had become a futile endeavor, so Qiwu and I decided to just sit on the steps by the Reflecting Pool and enjoy the weather while watching more or less attractive people pass us by at different velocities ranging from slow strolls to military runs, with most of them stopping to take their obligatory travel pictures and selfies - "Lauren checked in at the Reflecting Pool at 7.43am".
And here comes the interesting part. Someone invented the zoom-out selfie device, so your friends at home don't just see a frame-filling face of you, but also what's around you:
While we were enjoying ourselves, we were lucky that some marines walked by:
On the way back to our cars, we passed by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. What we witnessed was an emotional scene of a man remembering his fallen comrades, saying each of their names while stroking over the engraving in the stone: