As part of Flickr’s 10th birthday celebration, the Arlington National Cemetery hosted a special sunrise photo shoot for the public. Over 100 photographers showed up at 5 a.m. to be escorted to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and to the Arlington House, the two locations within the cemetery that were chosen for vantage points to photograph the sunrise.
According to Jennifer Lynch, a spokeswomen from the Arlington National Cemetery’s Public Affairs Office, it was the first time that the grounds of the Arlington House were opened to the public for a sunrise shoot. One time it was opened to the media but not to the public. The Arlington House has wonderful view that overlooks the cemetery, the Potomac River, and the National Mall.
Memorial Avenue was the location used to organize the photographers at 5 a.m. Two convoys of cars were formed, one for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and one for the Arlington House. At 5:20 a.m., both convoys headed to the cemetery with a military escort.
There was a slight delay when the escorts found that the gates to the cemetery were still locked and we could not gain entrance. Calls were quickly made and within 5 or 10 minutes a police car with flashing lights arrived and the gates were opened. We drove in convoys to the two photo shoot destinations and we still had plenty of time to set up our camera gear before the sunrise.
It was a beautiful morning for a sunrise shoot. The temperature was mild, the winds were light, and the sky was clear.
The eastern horizon glowed red as dawn transitioned to sunrise. The Flickr team served donuts and coffee while we waited for the sunrise. The donuts were almost as amazing as the view and I have included a donut photo at the bottom of this post.
At exactly 6:07 a.m, the sun became visible on the horizon. At 6:10 a.m., the sun cleared the horizon. From the vantage point of the Arlington House, the sun rose between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. It was a beautiful scene.
The photographers, who clustered around the flag pole at the Arlington House, began to shoot rapid fire with their cameras. I also noticed a few people using iPhones to snap shots. A reporter worked the crowd of photographers asking questions and recording their responses as they photographed.
Within the next 30 minutes, the sun rose well above the horizon and the cemetery’s blooming dogwoods began to glow, basked in the warm light of the rising sun. The Arlington House also caught the light and become illuminated on its eastern-facing side. Sun beams spotlighted patches of ground throughout the cemetery causing the tops of the white, marble tombstones to shimmer.
After sunrise, the photographers spread out and began shooting the beautiful landscape around the Arlington National Cemetery. After about 50 minutes, Jennifer Lynch and the military escort called us back to our cars and we exited the cemetery in a convoy, just like we entered.
Before we left the cemetery, I spent a little time discussing weather with Jennifer Lynch from the cemetery’s Public Affairs Office. She said the burials at Arlington continue in all types of weather. They are scheduled weeks and months in advance and storms rarely postpone the services. Lightning is a different matter, of course, but burial services are held in snowstorms and nor’easters. We discussed photographing an Arlington burial service for a future CWG post.
Here is a link to Arlington National Cemetery’s Flickr page which include more photos from this event.