Washington DC Attractions
The best time to hit the Washington DC attractions is sunrise, or perhaps just before sunrise. I love to stay up late and sleep in well past sunrise, but sometimes you just have to adjust your schedule to make the most of your time. I thought I would avoid the crowds by photographing some of the Washington DC attractions later in the evening. Big mistake. Everyone else has that same idea, particularly school groups.
It seems that most people prefer to be on some indoor tour during the day. They have good reason, because it gets sweltering hot in the DC area. Let’s face it, the place was built on a swamp. Some of those characteristics remain. Daytime is busy with the good folks who live there going about work and life, not to mention the tourists clogging the museums and other indoor tours. For photographers, the middle of the day is often a poor time for photography in the harsh light. It’s a good time for a nap, though.
After being surrounded by school groups along the National Mall and the Lincoln Memorial one evening, I realized that the crowds just never seemed to end. One park ranger explained the ebb & flow of the crowds to me, though.
Painful as it was, I got up a few hours before sunrise, parked at Potomac Park, and made my way around the Washington DC attractions in the area. It was beautiful! No crowds in the Lincoln Memorial. I even got there before the Marines arrived at the midpoint of their morning run. In fact, the only other
fools people who were about at that time were other runners. As a photographer, I love runners. They don’t linger. They get the hell out of the way of my frame. Remember that the next time you’re setting up a shot and someone crosses into your scene. At least runners will be out of the way in a moment. Beats the hell out of tourists in your way.
I was able to hit several Washington DC attractions in a very short time because there wasn’t anyone in the way. The Lincoln Memorial, The Vietnam War Memorial (including the Wall and the statues), the Korean War Memorial, the MLK memorial, FDR memorial, and still had time to wrap up with a walk around the Tidepool area before any crowds arrived.
Many photographers will tell you to get up early because that’s the best light of the day. Maybe so, but I like it because it’s the quietest time of the day. You can get a lot done while everyone else is sleeping another couple of hours.