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Cherry Blossom Crowds 2019 - Washington, DC by Todd Henson

Washington, DC Cherry Blossom Crowds along the Tidal Basin

Early each spring large crowds of people travel into Washington, DC hoping to see the cherry blossoms framing the Tidal Basin and scattered in many other areas around the capital. Some years and certain days of the week or times of day are more crowded than others, but if it’s cherry blossom season it’s a good bet there will be crowds of some size anytime you visit.

This year (2019) my brother and I visited DC on Saturday, March 30th, with peak bloom predicted to be April 1st. We took the first Metro into town, which arrived sometime around 8 am. This isn’t early from many a photographer’s perspective, but it is early as far as most folks are concerned. You will still find crowds at that time, but they will be smaller than those around noontime.

Washington Monument Cherry Blossom Crowds

The photos in this post give an example of how the crowds might look at different locations around the Tidal Basin. It was a clear day with no rain forecast, so there was nothing to keep people away, except perhaps for the Kite Festival on the Mall. I heard the crowds on the following weekend (April 6-7) were larger than those we saw.

This year there were several sections of grass that were fenced in, keeping people to the paved path around the Tidal Basin. I assume this was to let the grass regrow in these areas, as it can get rather trampled with all the foot traffic. Other areas were open, letting people wander under the trees.

Some of the monuments, such as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, have large open areas where people can gather. The FDR Memorial doesn’t have as many large open spaces but has lots of small to medium spaces.

Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial Cherry Blossom Crowds

Tidal Basin Inlet Bridge Cherry Blossom Crowds

It was nearing noon when we made it to the Jefferson Memorial, a favorite of the crowds. Its large extended steps are perfect places to sit and rest for a bit, watching the paddle boats out on the Tidal Basin. But the inside also draws large crowds. I’m not one for crowds, but these places are well worth visiting if you never have.

Cherry Blossom Crowds on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial

Cherry Blossom Crowds inside the Jefferson Memorial

Looking out at the Cherry Blossom crowds from the Jefferson Memorial

Jefferson Memorial Cherry Blossom Crowds

When leaving town just after noon it takes far more time to walk from the Tidal Basin back to a Metro stop than it does to walk from the stop to the Tidal Basin earlier in the morning. You’re stuck walking the speed of the general crowds, which always bunch up around crosswalks. I really feel for those crossing guards, having to manage so many people and vehicles all vying for the same space.

Cherry Blossom crowds while leaving Washington, DC

I hope this post has given you a realistic look at the crowds you might expect if heading into Washington, DC on a cherry blossom weekend. It may be more or less crowded when you arrive, but you should certainly expect some crowds. So give yourself time, bring along some water and a snack, and have patience. You’ll run into people of all sorts, but overall I’ve always found the majority of the crowds to be pleasant and polite. They’re typically there for the same reasons you are. So head into DC and enjoy your stay.


Watching the Falls by Todd Henson

A lone photographer watching, and photographing, Great Falls along the Potomac River.

One morning years ago I was photographing the falls at Great Falls Park in Virginia. This is the location where the Potomac River narrows and drops in elevation, creating these amazing rapids and water falls. You can return to this location over and over and see something different each time as seasons change, water levels fluctuate, atmospheric conditions shift, and people enter or leave the scene.

I love photographing these falls. They are such a grand and powerful example of nature so very close to Washington, D.C. This morning there was a layer of fog hugging the river, obscuring the distant elements in the scene. Fog can be a natural way of simplifying a photograph, helping to focus our attention on one element or another.

What drew me to the scene this day was the lone photographer standing on the rocks to the upper left. He was framing a shot of the falls just as I was, but my shot included him. I like the lone figure, hunched over his tripod, concentrating on the falls. Such a grand scene, enveloped in a layer of fog, and this lone photographer.

There are times I prefer including only the natural elements of the scene, just rocks, plants, water, wildlife, but not people. Other times including a person can add a sense of scale to the scene. It can also affect the mood or emotion of the image. Perhaps the viewer will imagine themselves as the person in the scene. Or maybe they will wonder about the person and their story, what brought them here, what they are thinking or feeling.

Watching The Falls is available for purchase as wall art or on a variety of products.



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Foggy Views From Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, Maine by Todd Henson

Couple on Cadillac Mountain facing cruise ship in foggy Gulf of Maine

During my vacation in Maine we visited Acadia National Park several times, and drove to the top of Cadillac Mountain twice. Our first day began engulfed in fog. We drove to the top of Cadillac Mountain, not knowing if perhaps we’d rise above the fog. We reached the summit and found no end to it, a thick blanket of white across the entire sky.

"Islands Galore!" from Cadillac Mountain with view of nothing but fog

Hiking the trails and seeing the signs describing the amazing view from the mountain was a bit of a surreal experience. One sign proclaimed, “Islands Galore!” and showed a view from that location of the many islands in the Gulf of Maine, and yet our view was of the trail, rocks, a few trees and shrubs, and a wall of white. But even in the fog, Cadillac Mountain was a beautiful place, and perhaps much more peaceful than on a clear day. There were far fewer people around, and the fog made it seem there were even fewer. I found it fascinating how the fog moved in and out, how one area that began to clear would fog up again just moments later.

"From Shores to Summits" view of fog from Cadillac Mountain

"From Sea to Shining Stars" view of fog from Cadillac Mountain

At one point there was a larger break in the fog, showing the area around Bar Harbor. We found and followed a trail I thought might provide a view of the scene, but not too far in the fog closed back in, engulfing everything. Along the trail was a sign for a hawk watch. There were two park rangers with posters of the various types of hawks that sometimes frequent that area. Of course, there were no hawks to be seen with fog like this. The scene I was looking for had disappeared before we found any vantage with a view of the gulf, so we wandered back to the car and went on to other sights.

Foggy slope on Cadillac Mountain

Interesting granite surfaces in the fog on Cadillac Mountain

The following day we tried again, heading up to Cadillac Mountain first thing. On the drive in we passed through more fog. Would today be another day with views of nothing but fog? Perhaps. But there was only one way to know for sure. Driving up the mountain we eventually rose out of the fog. Hiking the same trails as the day before revealed a completely different landscape. This morning we had views of the entire mountain and some of the islands in the gulf enveloped in a layer of fog resting on the water. It was a beautiful sight. Even more amazing was seeing one of the cruise ships anchored in the fog. Strange sight. In two of the photos you can see not only the cruise ship, but also some of the buildings of Bar Harbor towards the left.

View from Cadillac Mountain of Bar Harbor and cruise ship in Gulf of Maine

Granite top of Cadillac Mountain with view of Bar Harbor and cruise ship

My favorite photo is the one I captured of two people standing on the rocks gazing out over the gulf, with the cruise ship anchored below. I had been photographing the cruise ship when I noticed the pair hiking over the rocks. I waited for them to get high enough, then framed the shot with them and the cruise ship.

Couple on Cadillac Mountain facing cruise ship in foggy Gulf of Maine

About an hour later we found a trail behind the small gift store, which we’d overlooked the day before. The trail led up to another nice view where I created a multi-image panorama. The group of people on the left are at the top of Cadillac Mountain by the signs I had photographed in the fog the day before. Some of the islands can be seen in the distance with clouds and fog surrounding them. The light becomes a little harsh towards the right, which was the direction of the sun.

Panorama of Cadillac Mountain overlooking the Gulf of Maine

The weather can change quickly and it can sometimes be difficult to plan ahead too far. For this trip we were very flexible, taking what nature gave us. I really enjoyed it. There was no stress around the need to be somewhere at a particular time. The entire location was new to us, so each area we ventured to had something new and interesting to see. Acadia National Park is an absolutely beautiful location, well worth visiting. I would love to go back, finding different areas, or just revisiting some of the same areas at different times, in different weather. I highly recommend this park.