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Playing the DC Tourist

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Yesterday, my daughter, her friend, and I went into downtown Washington, making the most of the deflowered cherry blossom season. Weather reaching 26 degrees Celsius on April 2 plummeted to 5 degrees by Saturday. The chill, brisk winds and—get this—snow cut short the peak blossom bloom. Undaunted by chilly winds and blossoms past peak, we braved the obstacles.

We encountered one unexpected hindrance, though. Crowds. Oh my, the crowds! I have never seen such crowds blasting through the museums and monuments. Like a celestial event—a millennial aligning of the planets—the convergence of Passover, Easter, school kids’ Spring vacation, and the National Cherry Blossom Festival brought masses of tourists to Washington. We stood in lines everywhere—except the paddle boats on the Tidal Basin, where no sane person would battle the bitter wind and choppy water.

We had loads of fun nevertheless, and I got to try out the Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM lens. Last April, for the Cherry Blossom Festival, I brought out the Nikon D200, which I recently had acquired. About four months ago, my good buddy and I swapped gear. He got the D200, and I took back my Canon EOS 20D and four lenses: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM, EFS 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM, and EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM. He since took back the 60mm Macro and I swapped out the 10-20mm lens for the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens.

The 135mm lens delivered spectacular photos. For this first outing, I relied on automatic settings all the way, which meant JPG instead of RAW images. The 135mm focal length turned out to be more uncomfortable than I expected because of the 20D’s smaller-than full-frame sensor and, therefore, 1.6x multiplier. Still, the 135mm prime lens looks to be an excellent all-around choice. I don’t mind being the telephoto.

The 135mm Canon lens is one of the main reasons I switched back to the 20D dSLR. The focal length seemed perfect, and at that a prime lens. I posted a new gallery over at SmugMug over yesterday’s outing. The original images are worth a look for the remarkable detail.

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