Updated: May 3
Every Spring the cherry blossom trees around the tidal basin near the Jefferson Memorial burst into color in an amazing display that attracts over a hundred thousand tourists (and thousands of photographers). Washington DC hosts the National Cherry Blossom Festival to celebrate the end of our long Winters.
The trees were a given by the Major of Tokyo, Japan to the district in 1912 in recognition of the growing friendship between the United States and Japan and also celebrate the continued close relationship between the two nations. After 100 years these trees have proven to be the gift that keeps giving.
Capturing these cherry blossoms is on the shot list of almost every photographer in the area and is a "must have" in your portfolio. Of course its not enough to just have a shot, we all see to go out of our way to make our work unique. To add to the challenge, the trees are in full bloom for a week (and rain/wind can reduce full bloom to mere days). Crowds fill the tidal basin making clean shots difficult. Just getting to the tidal basin can be difficult - combine normal DC traffic with tourists, buses, and almost no parking - be prepared, patient, and ready for a long walk.
As always the "golden hours" in morning and evening offer the best opportunities to capture the scene. Most choose the morning hours as the crowds are smaller and the direction of the rising sun tends to give the sky some excellent colors. I recommend multiple trips or an afternoon visit to survey the scene. In the low-light hours a tripod is a must, so come prepared and arrive early to claim your patch. Fundamentally, floral shots offer an excellent opportunity to widen the aperture and try to get a shallow depth of field. Conversely, don't overlook the opportunity to get the memorials (Jefferson and Martin Luther King) in the frame as background.