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    2011 Washington DC Cherry Blossoms

    Nothing heralds the start of spring quite like the site of cherry blossoms framing our national monuments. Despite failing in my well-intentioned effort to arrive at the crack of dawn (for the good light!), I stuck out the unseasonably cold afternoon and managed some nice shots. I attempted to wait until sunset, but clouds moved in producing an almost moonlit affect which I quite liked. The entire afternoon was nearly a complete bust, however. While eating lunch on the grass, flipping through the photos… disaster! A hair on my CCD! After an attempted — and failed — quick fix (blow gently on the exposed CCD), my heart sank as I a) realized that all of my photos from the previous 2 hours were ruined with a giant v-shaped hair and b) that piece of hair was stuck, stuck, stuck on my detector.

    I persevered, demoralized, but eventually, immediately after this horrid shot at left, most of the dust disappeared. When I returned home, I used some cleaner and sensor swaps designed specifically for this purpose, and after 8 (!) swabs my sensor was clean again. Although it would have been a convenient excuse to upgrade my camera… I’m happy to report that the camera is spot free again.

    I was fortunate to go at peak blossom, as opposed to last year when they were past their peak. Quite a difference, although I’m not sure which produces the better pictures. Certainly, the fluffy white blossoms, alone against the branches, are spectacular. But I also liked some of the photos from last year showing blossoms floating in the water, and the extra contrast added by the new leaves. Compositionally, there is significant overlap between this year and last. Next time, I’ll have to plan out some different shots, and maybe move beyond my comfort zone.

    Through the magic of photo-editing, I managed to salvage some of the photos — primarily those in which the hair was against the blue sky. Some photos, I’m afraid, are forever ruined; a testament to my cat Felecia. And yet again I learn a lesson on one of my photo shoots: Always carry my rocket lens blower, and take some test shots before important shoots.

    Click for photos from the 2011 Cherry Blossom Festival

    (Update: SmugMug Gallery of the 2010 Festival. Quite a difference from this year.)

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