Twice a year, during the weeks of the spring and fall equinoxes, sunrise aligns with the east-to-west arrangement of the Mall. Often, cloud cover or fog spoils sunrise during this time of year. But, conversely, when the weather is too clear, the sun’s brightness floods the landscape with blinding light, which is challenging to photograph.
On Sunday morning, there were no weather spoilers. Instead, there was a beautiful sunrise over Washington. Note, the fall equinox occurs Wednesday, and sunrise and sunset will continue to align with the Mall for the next several days, making for good photo opportunities provided the weather cooperates.
On Saturday, I rolled out of bed at 5:30 a.m. and checked the sky. It was cloudy. I happily jumped back into bed, relieved there would be no visible sunrise to photograph. That’s how I often think when I first awake. Sleep seems more important than photography. Besides, I knew I’d try again on Sunday, which had a forecast for clear weather.
On Sunday morning, I crawled out of bed at 5:30 a.m. and checked the sky. It was clear. I stumbled down the stairs and made coffee. Nothing had changed with the weather while I brewed coffee, so I packed my camera gear and tripods, had my coffee and breakfast, and headed out the door.
When I started my car, the fuel gauge showed near empty.I was running late, so I’d have to make the 25-minute drive to shoot the sunrise first, but then I could stop for gas on the return trip. And I made a mental note to plan better next time or set the alarm earlier.
I parked at the Marine Corps War Memorial at 6:40 a.m. and made the short walk to the Netherlands Carillon, where a small group of photographers had already assembled with their tripods and cameras. Sunrise was 6:53 a.m., so I had a little over 10 minutes to prepare for the shoot.
I found a spot to set up my tripods behind the other photographers. There was a large, roped-off garden directly in front of me and, in the dark, I didn’t notice whether the flowers were blooming.
As I took a few test shots, I noticed a thin, dark layer in the sky just above the eastern horizon. On clear days, the layer above the horizon is bright red at dawn. But not this morning; it was gray. But I could also tell the dark layer wasn’t cloud cover, so I hoped the muck in the air would be thin enough for the sun to shine through. Luckily, it was.
The sun was immediately visible when it rose above the horizon. It wasn’t too bright, but it wasn’t obscured, either. Instead, it appeared as a red and yellow orb slowly rising in the sky. And when the sun’s light illuminated the garden in front of me, I realized I made a good choice of location to shoot the sunrise. The flowers in the garden were beautiful, and I’ve included a photo. Moments later, several photographers came over to photograph the flowers.
I’ve also included photos submitted by our readers. Let us know if you watched Sunday’s sunrise.
Reader sunrise photos