Most people ask me where I park and my path I take when I am shooting the National Mall for sunrise so figured why not share my path as well as some of the images from those areas on most mornings. Keep in mind I don't always make the 100% loop and have marked the sections I walk 50% of the time in a dashed line vs the full line.
Where I park - During my early morning cycles with the exception of Cherry Blossom season and when they have events blocking off the lot, I park in the Tidal Basin Paddle Boat lot close to Independence ave and the Floral Library.
From there I walk across Independence Ave and head towards the World War II Memorial and shoot from the front of the memorial towards Lincoln or across 17th st towards the Washington Monument (I will put some examples below)
I then walk along the Lincoln Memorial towards the Lincoln Memorial, stopping along the way if the reflections or something catches my eye. I also sometimes walk along the walking path just up from the Reflecting pool as you can get some nice shots of runners or walkers under the lights with a little early morning glow or fog in some cases.
Once at the Lincoln Memorial there are 100s of angles of the memorial and the reflecting pool
I then proceed towards the Vietnam Veterans Memorial or wait at Lincoln for the sunrise light then proceed depending on which I want to try and catch first light on.
Walk around Constitution gardens stopping again if anything catches my eye and back towards the WWII memorial.
Another opportunity to shoot with first light or if the sky is cooperating to get some different light and angles
Then I walk back across Independence Ave towards the Tidal Basin and MLK Jr. Memorial
If the light is still good I will walk around the Tidal Basin towards the Jefferson Memorial stopping along the way to capture images at the Tidal Basin and FDR Memorial
Then at Jefferson much like Lincoln, tons of options to shoot
Then it's continue around the Tidal Basin back towards the Paddle Boat parking lot
Estimated Miles if you do the full Circuit is around 3 Miles and can be 2-3 hours depending on how often you stop and shoot at each location. I am usually 4am till around 7-7:30am
Jump in the Jeep and play in traffic on my way home to start culling images.
Wake Up Early. Drink Coffee. Never stop chasing the light and always get out there and shoot.