March 2024 | Color

Cherry Blossoms 2024 in Washington DC

Fujifilm X-T1 | TTArtisan 100mm f2.8 | 100mm (150mm) | 1/1250sec | ISO 200

I was determined to see the cherry blossoms in DC this year. I missed it the last couple of years for one reason or another. You go too early, and the blossoms are not out; you go too late, and they are falling off the trees. This year, I checked the Cheery Blossom Watch website. Today, the blossoms have reached the puffy state, one step before peak bloom. While we could not enjoy the full bloom, which is spectacular, plenty of trees have been showing off their blooms just fine. They are so beautiful. Peak bloom should happen next week.

Visiting the Cherry Blossoms

We decided to enjoy the cherry trees this weekend, a bit ahead of the curve. The advantage is that there will be fewer visitors, and one doesn’t have to squeeze around a lot of people—room to breathe, so to speak.

To be ready to go, I packed my camera bag the night before—three cameras, one of them infrared, five lenses, batteries, etc. Everything seemed fine Friday night. Saturday morning, the bag must have gained weight. It was so heavy—no way I wanted to carry all that. The infrared camera and one lens stayed home. The lenses I brought were the Auto Sears 55mm f1.4 (Tomioka), Helios 44-3 58mm f2, TTArtisan 100mm f2.8, and the Meyer-Optik Görlitz Domiplan 50mm f2.8 which I did not use. All manual focus, with the potential of interesting boke.

Cherry blossoms 2024
White Cherry Blossoms with soap bubble bokeh
Fujifilm X-T1 | TTArtisan 100mm f2.8 | 100mm (150mm) | 1/1800sec | ISO 200

I wanted to test my manual lenses and see if they performed the way I expected or hoped they would. I was not disappointed. All three of them earned their keep.

My Lenses

The TTArtisan produced, when the circumstances were right, its signature soap bubble bokeh. It also produced smooth bokeh. The lens is nice and not a one-trick pony.

The Auto Sears 55mm f1.4 also performed well. I have a feeling—yes, a feeling—that the Auto Revuenon 55mm f1.4 produces more interesting bokeh, but I will need to do some comparison shooting. The verdict is open.

I am very fond of the Helios 44-3. It is a very capable lens. It is quite sharp, at least in the middle section of the image. The colors are nice as well. The edges are not sharp, as can be seen in the image below. I cropped the image on top and bottom, just in case you wonder why only the right and left edges are unsharp.

Tidal basin
Tidal Basin
Fujifilm X-E3 | Helios 44-3 58mm f2 | 58mm (87mm) | 1/9000sec | ISO 200
When I decided only to bring manual-focus lenses, I wasn’t sure what kind of outcome to expect. I wondered about the in-focus/out-of-focus ratio, expecting it to be on the side of error but I was positively surprised. The vast majority of images were adequately focused. That does not mean that the pictures were nice or had great composition. All the images were taken wide open to f4, which comes with a relatively shallow depth of field. Focus peaking is a fantastic, immensely useful feature of modern digital cameras; I would not want to be without it.

The Photos

Below are some of the photos of our visit to Washington, DC. I will add more images to my Flickr album.

Cherry blossoms against blue sky
Cherry Blossoms Against Blue Sky
Fujifilm X-E3 | Auto Sears 55mm f1.4 Tomioka | 55mm (83mm) | 1/1400sec | ISO 200
Cherry blossoms
Cherry Blossoms with soap bubble bokeh
Fujifilm X-T1 | TTArtisan 100mm f2.8 | 100mm (150mm) | 1/2000sec | ISO 200
Cherry blossom tree
Cherry Blossoms
iPhone 15 Pro Max | 6.86mm (24mm) | 1/4600sec | f/1.8 | ISO 64
Metro train with cherry blossom art
Metro Train with Cherry Blossom Art
iPhone 15 Pro Max | 6.86mm (24mm) | 1/40sec | f/1.8 | ISO 1000



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