Every year I try to make it to downtown Washington, D.C., at least once to photograph the cherry blossoms. Sometimes my schedule aligns with peak bloom, which historically occurs between late March and early April, other years, I simply make the trip with no expectations other than fresh air and exercise.
This year one thing was for certain, the first weekend I was free was already past peak bloom, defined as the day 70 percent of the trees have opened their buds. The other thing about the day I choose to photograph was the weather, overcast with intermittent light rain and low temperatures. The day before, however, was perfect. So it goes and as it turned out, the weather worked to my advantage.
Again, knowing that it was well past peak bloom, I was pretty much expecting that the blossoms would be on the ground and figured that would be the picture I came away with. What surprised me right away was the number of blossoms that were floating on the surface of the water in the tidal basin.
That was something I had not seen before and I knew right away that this was going to be the photograph. I had a tripod with me, which would allow me to shoot at slower shutter speeds, so It was only a matter of choosing the right shutter speed in order to show motion yet retain enough detail in the cherry blossoms. Too fast of a shutter and I would freeze the blossoms, too slow, and they would be a blur of pink.
Even with overcast skies, I knew if I wanted a slower shutter speed, I was going to be right at the limits of my exposure. I stopped my lens all the way down to f16 and set my ISO to 100. That gave me a shutter speed of 1/8th to 1/15th, which I found to be the sweet spot. It's a good thing too, because without a neutral density filter that was it.
Sometimes you head out for the day with the intention of making one set of photos and something entirely different presents itself. That was the case on this day and I couldn't be happier with the results.