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Earlier this summer, I spent a few days in Washington, DC. With all the history it has to offer, DC has always been one of my favorite cities in the US.

Having focused on DC’s historic significance during many of my past visits, my interest on this particular trip was to take some good photos of the city. I especially wanted to take some nice photos at night, and I had every intention of bringing my tripod with me so that I could get some nice long exposures. But of course, I somehow ended up in the city each evening with my camera but no tripod.

Completely undeterred by my lack of proper equipment, here is what I came up with.

As the sun disappeared on my walk around the Tidal Basin on my first night in DC, lovely shades of blue started to dominate the sky. I found an empty stretch of side stairs at the Jefferson Memorial, and propped my camera on one of the steps to get a longer exposure.

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I continued my walk around the Basin, and as the pink in the sky started to deepen, I set my camera on the ground at the edge of the water, phone underneath the lens to keep it at the right angle, and captured the full range of color surrounding the Washington Monument in the distance.

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On my next night in DC, I found myself at the Lincoln Memorial around sunset. Despite the crowd (it was Independence Day weekend), I found a space where there weren’t as many people, and I again used the ground/phone combination to steady my camera to get a clear shot of the memorial.

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Just up ahead, I used the same setup at the edge of the Reflecting Pool to get a shot of the Washington Monument and Capitol Building. (One of these days, maybe my visit won’t coincide with construction taking place on the Reflecting Pool).

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I continued my walk and decided that from where I stood, it would be nice to get the Washington Monument with starbursts coming from all the lights in front of it. For this endeavor, using just my phone wasn’t enough to get the top of the monument in the frame, so I stacked Molly’s phone on top of mine, which propped my lens at such an angle that I was able to compose the photo how I wanted.

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As I walked to the Metro station, I noticed that The Archives were beautifully lit (see the first photo of this post). From the front, there was nowhere to prop my camera to get a brighter image, so I wandered around until I found a spot on the edge that I was able to prop my camera for a longer exposure.

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Though I did not stay in the city on the next night for 4th of July fireworks, I am still very pleased with the nighttime views that I was able to experience during my few days in DC. Nonetheless, I am looking forward to visiting again in the future with stronger photography skills—and a tripod!

Love, Elizabeth

Any photographers out there with some pointers for me? What is the greatest length you’ve gone to in order to get a good photo? Let me know in the comments!