Jefferson Memorial

The Jefferson Memorial is a monument located near the National Mall in Washington, DC. It is situated south of the White House and the Washington Monument, and near the Tidal Basin. The monument was dedicated to Thomas Jefferson, one of the American Founding Fathers (he was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence) and the third President of the United States. It is among the prominent landmarks in downtown Washington, DC, and it is usually the focal point of the annual Cherry Blossom Festival since the largest concentration of the cherry trees in downtown DC is located around the nearby Tidal Basin.

I’ve visited the Jefferson Memorial many times, most of the time around the time of the cherry blossom time as I walked around the Tidal Basin to photograph the scenery. It is definitely one of the landmarks that visitors to DC should visit. Not only you would be able to learn about one of the key figures in the founding of the United States as a nation, but also you can enjoy a beautiful scenery of Washington, DC. You can see both the White House and the Washington Monument straight across the Tidal Basin from the Jefferson Memorial.

The photo below was taken in the morning before the sun rises as I waited for a Washington Photo Safari tour during the Cherry Blossom Festival to take place. It was pretty quiet and you could see the monument by itself with the statue of Jefferson inside, without any of the visitors in the scenery.

Jefferson Memorial

Tidal Basin

The Tidal Basin is a man-made lake that serves as both a visual centerpiece and as a means for flushing the Washington Channel, a harbor separated from the Potomac River by fill lands where East Potomac Park is situated near the National Mall area in Washington, DC. There are several monuments located near the Tidal Basin, including the Jefferson Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, George Mason Memorial, and the newly-built Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial. The Tidal Basin is also the focal point of the annual Cherry Blossom Festival since there is a large concentration of the cherry trees planted around the lake.

I’ve walked around the Tidal Basin many times, especially during the Cherry Blossom Festival time (usually around end of March to early April of the year). There is usually a period of several days when the cherry blossom is at its peak. That’s the best time of the year to visit, though if you can, visiting during the weekdays is better with less crowd compared to the weekends. The National Park Service conducts Ranger-led tour around there, and there are usually events you can check out around there. One activity that I would recommend for photographers is to participate in a Washington Photo Safari’s tour. During the tour, you would be going around to spots around the Tidal Basin that are particularly nice for photo shoots, and you can also get instruction on how to improve your photography skills.

The photo below was taken in the morning during the peak bloom of the cherry blossom, right after I participated in the Washington Photo Safari’s tour. It was during the weekday so there were not many visitors out there, but it was nice to have these two ladies as part of the scene photographing the Tidal Basin, the cherry blossom around, and the Jefferson Memorial in the background.

Tidal Basin

Washington Monument

The Washington Monument, located in the National Mall area, is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Washington, DC. It was built to commemorate the first US President, George Washington. The monument is the tallest stone structure and the tallest obelisk in the world, standing at around 556 feet (close to 170 m). It is also the tallest structure in Washington, DC (there is a city ordinance in Washington, DC, that does not permit a building to be taller than 110 feet). Upon completion it was the tallest structure in the world, until the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France was completed in 1889.

I have never been inside or taking the elevator up the Washington Monument, but like other people living in Washington, DC, area, I have walked the grounds of the monument many times. During the summer months, the grassy area around the monument is used by locals for playing sports or to hold events/festivals. It is also located centrally when you’re walking around the National Mall area to visit many of the monuments and other buildings around, so there are usually good number of people walking around there.

The photo below was taken on a cloudy day in the spring time. You can see the tall monument with some flag poles around and visitors at the base for scale comparison.

Washington Monument

National World War II Memorial

The National World War II Memorial is located at the National Mall in Washington, DC, in between the Washington Monument and the Reflection Pool. This memorial was dedicated to the US soldiers who served in World War II. The memorial consists of 56 pillars representing the US states and territories, and two arches representing the two theaters where the war was fought, Atlantic and Pacific. There is also the Freedom Wall with 4,048 stars, each representing 100 US soldiers who died during the World War II.

The memorial is quite beautiful to see both during the day and at night. At night it’s quite nice to see the monument lighted, especially with the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument nearby also lighted, and usually there are less people at night compared to during the daytime.

The photo below was taken at night when I went to the National Mall specifically to take photos at night. This was taken with very slow speed and narrow aperture to take on the lights at the right level and to have the beautiful water fountains flowing smoothly.

National World War II Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial

The Korean War Veterans Memorial is located in the National Mall area in Washington, DC, not far from the Lincoln Memorial and the Reflection Pool. This memorial was constructed to remember the US and United Nation soldiers who died or were missing in action during the Korean War in 1950-1953. The memorial includes 19 figures of soldiers representing all branches of the armed forces, depicted as a patrol squad on duty on a rugged Korean terrain, a granite wall with more than 2,500 photographic archival images of troops etched, and a shallow pool called the Pool of Remembrance with inscription listing the number of casualties from the war.

I’ve visited this memorial both during the day and at night. It’s pretty cool to see these soldier figures that looked quite realistic. At night, when these figures were lighted dimly, it looked like you’re looking at ghostly figures (since the soldier figures were light-colored stainless steel, and they were depicted as wearing raincoats).

The photo below was taken during a visit in an afternoon. You can see the realistic look of the soldier’s face, and the other soldier figures in the background forming a patrol squad.

Korean War Veterans Memorial

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is located at the National Mall area in Washington, DC, near the Lincoln Memorial. This memorial was created to remember the US armed forces service members who died in Vietnam/Southeast Asia and those who were Missing in Action during the War. The memorial was designed by architect Maya Lin, who won the design competition as a 21-year old Yale University student. The design was a source of controversy given its unconventional design. But over the time, people came to appreciate the beauty of its simplicity and emotional power of seeing the wall with names of those perished and missing.

I think the most moving part of this memorial is not only seeing the list of names of soldiers who perished during the War, but often times observing visitors coming to visit to look for a specific name of someone they know, and also seeing pictures, notes, letters, and other item left at the wall to remember someone.

The photo below was taken during a visit one weekend last summer. There were many people there, including a group of veterans, some in wheelchairs, coming to visit the memorial. There were also groups of young students who only learned about the Vietnam War from history books. As I saw one of the wall panels closely, I saw a reflection of the other side of the wall with visitors observing the wall, the Washington Monument and blue sky in the background, and an older gentleman observing the wall on the left corner, and the names etched on the wall. It made for a unique perspective to capture a scenery at this memorial.

Names on the wall at Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial is located at the west end of the National Mall in Washington, DC. The memorial was dedicated in 1922 in honor of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. Lincoln served as the US President from 1861 to his assassination in 1865. He led the country through a very difficult time, the American Civil War, and credited with preserving the Union and for ending slavery. Lincoln has been consistently ranked as one of the greatest US presidents in the history.

The Lincoln Memorial itself over the years had become a special place in the US history as its steps had been the venue for many Civil Right Movement events. It was the place where in 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. gave his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

I’ve visited the Lincoln Memorial many times whenever I come to the National Mall, especially when taking out-of-town visitors. It’s a great place to visit both during the day and at night. The Lincoln statue is illuminated at night, and it’s open for visitors 24 hours a day, so sometimes late night is a good time to visit as there wouldn’t be as many visitors. I’ve also been there for an Easter sunrise service — it was quite a sight seeing the sunrise over the National Mall area from the steps of Lincoln Memorial.

The photo below was taken during a day visit to the memorial. The whole Memorial building architecture was quite impressive, but even just looking at the Lincoln statue when thinking about what he had to go through to lead the country through such difficult times, gave me goose bumps.

Lincoln Memorial