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There have been a lot, A LOT of cherry blossom photos posted over the past week. One could argue that every angle and vantage point around the Tidal Basin has been used and abused, that it’s hard to create a unique and unseen photograph of those fluffy little flowers. While that may be true to a certain extent I’d argue that that just makes it more of a challenge. It used to be that you could get down to the water by 8 am and still have the place (mostly) to yourself with a good hour or two until the tour buses and sandal-clad tourists started making the rounds.  Now only the most dedicated, those who are willing to forgo those extra moments of shut eye just so they can have a moment with the trees without the distraction of fellow human beings, are the ones who get the photographs of the bloom in all it’s glory. Cathy Hammer got down to the Tidal Basin before sunrise on a Sunday to get this amazing shot. She set her f-stop at 13, set the shutter for 30 seconds and let it go. The result is stunning. The water seems to be frozen and the whole scene shows crisp detail. A scroll through her photostream offers some wonderful evening shots as well. It may be an angle we’ve seen before but certainly never quite like this. Great job, Cathy.

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I’ve taken quite a few bird photos in my day, but I don’t think I’ve ever been able to get a shot like this one. Not only was Dan able to get a Starling inside a cherry tree nook, but he got it while holding a cherry blossom in its beak. That’s some skill right there. And the qualities of this photo don’t end there. Look at the bird and you’ll see the wonderful color variation in its chest plume. Also, the depth of field, or fuzzy, background is perfect for giving color to shot while not distracting from the main subject matter. This is a top notch wildlife photo!

Cherry Blossom Festival, Essential DC

The Insider’s Guide: Cherry Blossom Bliss


All photos by the author

There are a handful of great places to seek out Washington’s cherry blossoms but my favorite by far is Kenwood. The neighborhood, just around the corner from downtown Bethesda, is the insider’s paradise for a stroll through the flowers. I’d reckon that a visit on a spring day like the one I took this week could fill any hardened urbanite with suburban dreams.

Every year, a few days after their more famous siblings at the Tidal Basin start to show off, Kenwood’s cherry blossoms explode into life. With only three hundred some odd homes the densely packed twelve hundred Yoshino cherry trees blanket the neighborhood in stunning fashion. Weekend days during peak bloom can generate a crowd, but it’s nothing compared to the tidal basin’s overwhelming swell, and this is one of the best reasons to go to Kenwood. I think the place is also aesthetically more spectacular. The cherry trees in Kenwood are inescapable and encompassing, lining nearly every street and dotting nearly every front yard. They blanket the place in color, and in the neighborhood’s most magical spots the branches on each side of the road meet above your head forming tunnels of pink and white.
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Featured Photo

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Infrared photography, or photography using film or a sensor which is sensitive to the near-infrared part of the light spectrum, is an interesting technique for photographers to use. While not the thermal imaging most people would think, infrared photography strips out the visible spectrum (remember “ROYGBIV” from elementary school science class?) and leaves a ghostly image which is reminiscent of a dreamscape.

Let’s look at cruffo’s shot. If shot as a normal image, the picture would be nice but rather plain; how many shots of tree, even cherry blossom trees, have we seen in our lives? But using IR photography, the viewer is forced to look at the composition of the shot, and see the trees stretching every which way. As well, the coloring of the photo makes it look like this was shot in the depths of an ice age, not on a 80 degree day. A great shot; I hope to see more in the future!

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Long exposures, where the shutter of the camera is left open for longer than the fraction of a second of a normal photograph, are normally a night photographic technique. Which makes sense; exposing a sensor or film frame to such a large amount of daylight normally results in a worthless picture. But there are ways to make it work, as Chris shows above. While I’m unsure if his shot is achieved through post-processing in a computer program or an in-camera technique, it is a good example of a daytime long exposure.

Chris’s photo creates a great sense of movement, while simultaneously giving an idea of the crowd of people. As well, framing the shot between two cherry tress skillfully contains the subject matter. Lastly, the most powerful part of the shot is the solitary, and unmoving, bench in the middle of the frame. Juxtaposed against the ghost like movement of the people, one is left with a sense of time; both those things that are transitory and those that are stationary. It is a shame that there aren’t any cherry blossoms to add more color to the shot (new peak prediction is April 6-10) but it is a small issue. All around an excellent shot for the season!

Adventures, Cherry Blossom Festival, Downtown, Special Events, The Features

Celebrating 100 Years of Blossoms

Photo courtesy of katieharbath
Cherry Blossoms
courtesy of katieharbath
It’s cherry blossom time! This year is the Centennial anniversary of Japan’s gifting of the cherry trees to the U.S. and the National Cherry Blossom Festival has planned a whopping five weeks of events to celebrate. While the festival officially kicks off this coming Sunday, some events are already unfolding this week – not to mention we’re smack in the middle of the peak bloom time of the trees.

We’ll provide you a weekly listing of events here on WeLoveDC so you can keep up with all the fantastic offerings. There’s so much going on for the Centennial that we can promise there’s something for everyone! (And don’t forget to drop your photos into our Flickr pool!)

Tonight is the sold-out 2012 Pink Tie Party at the Mayflower Renaissance. Chefs José Andrés and Roy Yamaguchi, innovators in the culinary community, will host the evening, exemplifying the international collaboration and creativity at the heart of the Festival. The sixth annual fundraiser and kick-off to the Centennial Celebration and the “season of the blossoms” will feature area chefs’ spring-, cherry- and blossom-inspired cuisine and cocktails. An auction contributes to the Festival’s fundraising efforts offering everything from weekend getaways and yacht charters to concert, sporting, dining, and theater experiences and blossom- and Japanese-themed jewelry and apparel. Continue reading

Downtown, Essential DC, News, Special Events, The Daily Feed

And the Blossom Bloomtime Is….


This year marks the centennial anniversary of Japan’s gift of cherry trees to Washington, DC and the enduring friendship between Japan and the United States. The National Cherry Blossom Festival is celebrating in style this year with a five-week calendar of events. Considered the nation’s greatest springtime celebration, this year will feature diverse and creative programming promoting traditional and contemporary arts and culture, natural beauty, and community spirit.

Among some of the events are the Pink Tie Party on March 20 with Chefs Jose Andres and Roy Yamaguchi and the Cherry Blossom Parade on April 14, co-hosted by Katie Couric with special correspondents Alex Trebek, Leon Harris, and Alison Starling.

The biggest news, however, is the bloom prediction by NPS Chief Horticulturalist Rob DeFeo. Due to the light winter and continual warming trend, the peak bloom prediction this year is from March 24th through the 31st. In the coming weeks, watch for updates from WLDC on the exciting Cherry Blossom events and plans to come!

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

FREE FOOD ALERT: Cherry Picks at Capital One Bank Branches

Photo courtesy of
‘cherry blossoms + Washington Monument’
courtesy of ‘martha_jean’

Unless you’ve got tons of free time and an expansive stomach and wallet, there’s just no way to take advantage of every cherry blossom-inspired dish at restaurants around town. So instead, you can sample some of the “Cherry Picks” this week and next at various Capital One Bank locations.

From 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM on designated dates, different restaurants will give out complimentary morsels. If you happen to be a Capital One Bank customer, then you get the added bonus of getting a free coffee or dessert when you dine at and pay with your Capital One debit or credit card at participating restaurants.

Below is the schedule for the free Cherry Picks:

Tuesday, March 29; 11:30am – 1:30pm
Capital One Branch: 1100 17th Street, NW
Featuring Litestars
Wednesday, March 30; 11:30am – 1:30pm
Capital One Branch: 336 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE
Featuring Zest Bistro

Wednesday, March 30; 11:30am – 1:30pm
Capital One Branch: 1800 M Street, NW
Featuring Mie N Yu

Thursday, March 31; 11:30 – 1:30pm
Capital One Branch: 2400 M Street, NW 
Featuring RIS 

Tuesday, April 5; 11:30am – 1:30pm
Capital One Branch: 901 New York Ave, NW
Featuring Againn
Wednesday, April 6; 11:30am – 1:30pm
Capital One Branch: 1850 K Street, NW
Featuring Cities Restaurant & Lounge

Thursday, April 7; 11:30am – 1:30pm
Capital One Branch: 1200 F Street, NW
Featuring McCormick and Schmick’s

Downtown, Entertainment, Essential DC, Interviews, People, Special Events, The Features, They Make DC

As Blossoms Arrive, a Moment with Diana Mayhew


The National Cherry Blossom Festival kicks off tomorrow, commemorating Japan’s gift of 3,000 Yoshino cherry trees to the city 99 years ago. The Festival is a grand two-week affair that draws over a million people annually, with a diverse range of events all across the District.

Key to the success of this yearly event for the last decade has been NCBF President Diana Mayhew, who took over the helm in 2000 as Executive Director and then in 2007 as President. When she arrived, the Festival was an all-volunteer organization (begun in 1927) and its vision was to ensure that there was year-round, consistent staffing to ensure the growth, quality, and consistency of events. “We also help show the world that Washington, DC is synonymous with spring,” Mayhew told me. “There was a need to provide consistent services to residents and visitors interested in attending Festival events and there was no central communication.” The Downtown DC Business Improvement District (BID) donated the salary of an Executive Director for three years until the Festival got up on its feet, implementing fundraising and sponsorships to support itself and the cost of programming, which is offered free to the public.

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The Daily Feed

Roundup: Cherry Blossom Restaurant Specials

Photo courtesy of
’10-4-4 – Cherry Blossoms – Warm Blossoms’
courtesy of ‘mosley.brian’

Ah the cherry blossoms–the time when you finally know it’s spring in Washington. While the Mall will be packed, I’m betting restaurant patios will also start to fill up. So while you’re starting to enjoy some outdoor dining during the cherry blossom season, here are some restaurants offering specials: Continue reading

The Daily Feed

And the Cherry Blossoms Cometh…


Hard to believe it, but the National Cherry Blossom Festival is right around the corner! The official festival celebration is from March 26 through April 10 this year.

Just announced this morning by National Park Service Chief Horticulturist Rob DeFeo, the optimal bloom time for the blossoms will be March 29 – April 3, right in the middle of the Festival. The average peak bloom date is April 4 with varying lengths; last year was a short window due to the heavy snows that blanketed the area in February protracted heat wave in March 2010.

This year’s Festival boasts nearly 400 free events and performances surrounding traditional and contemporary arts and culture, natural beauty, and community spirit; in celebration of the 99th anniversary of the gift of cherry blossom trees. The Blossom Kite Festival, always a great event held on the National Mall, has moved to the first Saturday of the festival, March 27.

For the first time in 15 years, the popular Sakura Matsuri Japanese culture street festival on April 9 will charge an admission fee of $5.

Fun & Games, Life in the Capital, The Daily Feed, The District, The Great Outdoors, The Mall

DC Crafts: Find Of The Day

Photo courtesy of
’10-4-4 – Cherry Blossoms – Warm Blossoms’
courtesy of ‘mosley.brian’

Last night’s premiere of TopChefDC, filmed in April, has me thinking back to the cooler days of spring when the city was infiltrated with tourists on their yearly pilgrimages to see the cherry blossom.  While I long for the chillier weather and the beautiful, cotton candy cherry blossoms, I’m good with our present normal levels of tourists.

Today’s DC Craft lets you add a little bit of cherry blossom to your abode with this reinterpreted cherry blossom vinyl wall decal. The wall decoration comes in 17 potential colors, and features a series of 4 birds perched on blooming branches.  Chose pink for the branches, and you’ve got a DC-centric piece of wall art.

Weekend Flashback

Weekend Flashback: Cherry Blossoms! 4/2 – 4/4/10

Photo courtesy of
‘Parking under the cherries’
courtesy of ‘afagen’

While the peak time may have already passed for the blooms this year, it didn’t deter the crowds along the Tidal Basin. More crowded than the last few years, the blossoms were the key attraction once again as spring fully exploded all over the DC area.

Many area photographers were out and about – as evidenced by the huge number of blossom-related photos in our Flickr pool – with many participating in an early morning photowalk on Saturday. So if you missed all the touristy fun this past weekend, we here at WeLoveDC have you covered. Enjoy some blossom-themed photos from our special Cherry Blossom flashback.

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The Daily Feed

Second Highest Ridership Day Ever for Metro Yesterday

Photo courtesy of
‘at least we’re not outside anymore!’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99’

Think these cherry blossom tourists are crowding up the Metro even more than usual? You’re right. Metro announced today that more people rode the Metro yesterday than any other day in history, except for Obama’s Inauguration last January.  The high ridership (totaling 877,890 trips) was due to the Capitals game as well as the Cherry Blossom Festival.  Crowds are expected to continue through the weekend, particularly with the National’s exhibition game tomorrow afternoon.

If you want to keep your sanity, just avoid the Smithsonian Station for the next week or so until all the tourists head home.

The Daily Feed

The Blossoms Are Coming! The Blossoms Are Coming!

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Ghost_Bear’

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for this winter to be over. The best signpost of spring around here is the blooming of the cherry trees, and National Park Service Chief Horticulturist Rob DeFeo has finally announced their best estimate as to when we’ll be seeing these beautiful blooms. According to the NPS press conference this morning at the Newseum, we’re looking at an expected “arrival” of April 3-8 for peak coverage. The average peak bloom date is April 4 and is considered the day when 70% of the blossoms of the Yoshino Cherry trees are open. The peak bloom every year varies due to weather and can be as early as March 15 or as late as April 18.

The blooming period usually starts several days before the peak bloom date and can last as long as two weeks, though frost, wind, and high temps can fluctuate that window. The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival is usually timed around the average peak bloom date; this year’s festival will be from March 27 – April 11. There’s still time to volunteer for the festival, so if you’re interested then vist the official NCBF website and sign up today.

The Daily Feed

Tidal Basin Cherry Trees Damaged By Snow

Photo courtesy of
‘Happy Birthday!’
courtesy of ‘kimberlyfaye’

The National Park Service is telling WTOP that the cherry blossom trees at the Tidal Basin have been damaged by our huge snowfall. “A number of branches have been split, there have been a couple of trees that have had the canopies taken off,” National Park Service spokesman Bill Line told the station.

There’s a chance that continued cold weather might delay the blooms, but the National Cherry Blossom Festival should still be a sight to see. Line believes that the trees will recover in the long term, and he expects the festival to be “as grand” as past festivals.

Entertainment, History, The Daily Feed, The Mall

2010 Cherry Blossom Festival. Will the snow be gone by then?

Photo courtesy of
‘Cherry Blossoms look like snow’
courtesy of ‘InspirationDC’

Covered in 20″ of snow, it’s hard to imagine the beautiful spring weather common during the Cherry Blossom Festival, but let’s try anyways.

The 2010 festival will run from March 27 to April 11, and marks the 98th anniversary of Japan’s cherry tree gifting. Activity planning is underway with the opening night to take place at the National Building Museum, fireworks at the southwest waterfront on April 3, the parade on April 11 and many more events in the works.

The Daily Feed, We Green DC

Trees Need Love, Too

Photo courtesy of
‘Hug a Tree’
courtesy of ‘Gwen Bubbles’

True, the cherry trees aren’t covered in fluffy blossoms right now, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need love. In fact, now that they’re alone and shivering with the onslaught of fall, they need it more than ever.

It’s hard finding a local source of high-quality plants for your landscape project needs,Twinwood Farms, a Texas tree farm offers native trees and grass for landscaping, they grow with biodiversity in mind and care about the environment and want to boost ecosystem productivity.

On Saturday, from noon to 3 p.m., people will be heading over to the Jefferson Memorial to give them a big group hug. Tree Hugger Day will include music, naturalist-led tree walks, and free gifts, including tree guides and historic trees you can plant.

Take a picture of your tree hugging, and you can enter it in a contest to win prizes from IKEA and American Forests. I find the category for “Strangest Hug” a little creepy, but do as you will.

If you luuuv trees, mark your calendar,