Celebrating the Summer Solstice

The Tourist

If you missed the 2nd Annual Celebrate the Summer Solstice, you really missed a great time! I drove up to the Springfield Metro Station and hopped on the train with much anticipation of the night that lay ahead. As I walked from the Smithsonian Metro Station toward the Washington Monument, I walked past tents and exhibits being prepared for this year’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The festival starts at 11am today, by the way. The group was scheduled to meet at the Sylvan Stage near the Washington Monument at 7:30pm. We had a full night in front of us and everyone was in good spirits. The weather was great, clear skies, nice breeze and the evening sun kept it warm enough so that the breeze felt nice. The forecast called for a clear night with a low in the mid 60’s. We couldn’t have asked for better weather.

New Reflecting Pool

Our first stop of the evening was the World War II Memorial. I didn’t realize when I planned the route that the Navy Choir would be at the memorial for an evening concert. That was an unexpected treat. I’m not a photographer that likes to photograph crowds of people so I was looking for other things to photograph when this bus came along.

Like me, most of the group didn’t want to photograph the memorial with all the people in it so we moved on to the next stop, the Lincoln Memorial. The old Reflecting Pool is being replaced and is a bit behind schedule. I’m looking forward to when they have all the work done and fill it up with water again. There was a little bit of water in the pool and it gave a hint of the photos that will be possible when all the work is finished.

Photographers Celebrating the Summer Solstice

Once we left the Lincoln Memorial we headed over to the United States Peace Institute. As we walked over we could see the lights making the translucent domed roof glow. I was looking forward to making some nice images of this building. But by the time we got there the lights had been turned off. Just our luck, well my luck actually. So we did what we could with the building and started working on getting light streaks from the car on the road in front of the building. Many of the new members of the group had never tried to get light streaks from cars so they were having fun with that.

Our next couple of stops included the Einstein Memorial and the Ellipse. Since it was getting late the lights had also been turned out at the White House so we all gathered around a fountain and started making some photos. The Uniformed Secret Service took an interest in what we were doing but when they figured out we were just a bunch of nutty photographers they relaxed a bit but still kept an eye on us. From there it was off to the Metro station at Federal Triangle for a short ride to Union Station. Half the night was done and it was time for a snack. The group was now less than half the number of photographers when we started but I expected that. Not many people made it all the way through last year so I knew many might leave when we got to Union Station. After a rest and a snack, we were ready to head out again. After some photographs around Union Station we went to the US Capitol. We spent some time photographing the Capitol from the north side and then moved to the east side. By this time I was anticipating dawn and thinking about where I wanted to be when the sun came up. After a leisurely walk to the west side of the Capitol we all split up to find a spot for sunrise.

US Capitol at Dawn

I have always liked the colors of the early morning light. Back in the day when Kodachrome was king, the colors that it gave you from a sunrise were amazing. With longer exposures, reciprocity failure and the saturated colors of Kodachrome, if you exposed correctly you would get some wonderful colors. This image of the Capitol reminds me of the colors you could get from Kodachrome.

For the last stop of our journey, I planned on being at the National Museum of the American Indian just after sunrise. I knew I wanted to get an image like the one below when the sun was just coming up over the horizon. The sun has to be a just the right angle to get this image because the light has to get under a very large over hang.

First Morning Light

I left the spot at the Capitol a little early so that I could be in place when the sun did its thing and I wasn’t disappointed. What color! I love the curvilinear lines of this building. The design of this museum is one of my favorite of all the buildings in DC. The more I look at it, the more I find to like about it. As the light changes, the building changes, accentuating different feature as it moves.

Golden Morning Light


After spending the night walking, talking and making images, it was time to say goodbye. At 6:45am. only 6 of us that started our adventure more than eleven hours before made it through the night. We all had a great time, as did everyone else in the group that didn’t make it all the way through. I’m already looking forward to next year and the 3rd Annual Celebrate the Summer Solstice.


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