Story Behind Image

Cherry Blossoms 2019 - Washington DC by Todd Henson

Soft Cherry Blossoms. Washington, DC. March 30, 2019.

One of the early highlights of the spring season in the Washington DC area are the thousands of cherry trees that burst into bloom. There are many locations to see cherry blossoms in the area, but the most popular has to be along the Tidal Basin where you can view the cherry trees with the many monuments and memorials along the way.

Cherry Blossoms. Washington, DC. March 30, 2019.

This year I went into town with a goal of creating photographs of smaller, more intimate arrangements of blossoms. I was looking for details, trying to showcase the beauty of the cherry blossoms, excluding most of the background and throwing elements out of focus. I brought along my Lensbaby Velvet 56, a soft focus lens, to help create a more ethereal look to some of the images, to give them that soft, dream-like quality I had in mind.

We took the first train into town which arrived sometime around 8 am. By the time we walked from the station to the Tidal Basin the sun was up and, unfortunately, the clouds had departed. This type of situation usually results in strong contrast, harsh sunlight and deep shadows, which is fine for some types of photography, but not well suited to creating that softer, dream-like look. To work around this issue I looked for blossoms in shade, giving me a soft diffused light similar to what clouds would’ve provided.

After creating a couple of the very soft focus photographs of the fully open cherry blossoms, I began looking for the smaller, unopened buds. Many trees have these growing directly off the main trunk, something I always find fascinating. So I focused on a couple of these, in one case showing the unopened pink buds against the dark craggy bark of the tree trunk, and in another focusing on a smaller cluster of buds beginning to open.

Cherry Tree Buds. Washington, DC. March 30, 2019.

Bud to Bloom. Washington, DC. March 30, 2019.

At the end of the day I was very happy with the photographs I created. And, as so often happens, even if none of the photographs had turned out I still had a fantastic day walking the Tidal Basin with my brother.


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Facing Down the Tower by Todd Henson

 

Facing Down the Tower, one of 3 towers at Battery Mount Vernon.

 

Last week we saw an interesting perspective on one of the three batteries of Battery Mount Vernon, at Fort Hunt Park, Virginia, just off the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Today we take a look at one of three towers, each of which faces a battery.

As we learned last time, a battery is a platform to support a heavy gun. Battery Mount Vernon was home to three batteries supporting guns that faced the Potomac River, just south of Washington, D.C. The batteries are on the second floor, which is the top level of the structure, though the guns have long since been removed.

This tower rose to the second floor and faced the battery. As you can see there is a somewhat narrow opening at the top that faces the battery. The right hand side of the tower is also open, providing the light that lets us see inside the tower. The back and left side of each tower are solid, with no openings.

I don’t know exactly what these towers were used for and couldn’t find any information about them on the various displays around Fort Hunt. But I assume they had something to do with the batteries as there were three towers, each facing a battery. I wonder if perhaps they were used to raise ammunition from the ground to the level of the battery and the gun? Or were they used for the opposite purpose, quickly moving spent casings from the battery level to the ground? If anyone knows their purpose please let me know in the comments below.


An Eye to the Battery by Todd Henson

An Eye to the Battery. Fort Hunt Park, Virginia.

Walking the ruins of an old fort I was captured by the sight of an unblinking eye staring up at me, watching as I walked the walls. So I leaned through the railing, put my eye to my camera, and began photographing the eye. The image above is the result.

This is a view of one of the batteries of Battery Mount Vernon, located at Fort Hunt Park, Virginia. My father and I visited the park one morning and walked amongst the ruins. It had rained recently, and the rain water became the white of the eye in the image. The battery is the circular concrete platform that is the iris of the eye.

Battery Mount Vernon, completed in early 1898, was home to 3 heavy guns designed to protect Washington, D.C. from naval attack. Each of the guns, which could be raised to reach over the wall and lowered below the wall to protect the gun, was located atop a battery. The gun on this battery would have been facing the bottom of the image, towards the Potomac River.

In 1933 Fort Hunt became part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, a national park. Now we can visit these ruins, an eye to the past, pondering how different this area is today from what it once was.

An Eye to the Battery is available for purchase as wall art or on a variety of products.