[/caption] Overcast skies in downtown Seattle can be turned into a perfect photography opportunity. Whenever I’m visiting Seattle and the skies are overcast I tend to immediately start to brainstorm and think outside the box. Overcast skies over a huge city offers some of the most spectacular opportunities that you can imagine. This is especially true if you’re inside the city with the towering sky scrappers at your fingers touch. You will always want to shoot upwards in order to frame the buildings in front of the cloudy skies. This way you will be aiming your camera at around a 90 degree angle and the personalities of the clouds will be revealed. This photo is a perfect example, with the dynamic colors, formations and angles of the ever changing angry skies. The city just complements the clouds rather than the clouds hindering the city. However, the most challenging thing to remember is to always think outside the box and never underestimate the power of the clouds. If you wait too long, you may miss an amazing streaming cloud formation that can take the shape like the one in this very photo. Photoshop is also your best opportunity to take advantage of the clouds since you can separate each of the clouds from one another and really show the dynamic ability of them. I try not to rely too much on Photoshop but it offers some great advantages whenever needed. However, I always trust my settings on the camera as I’m taking photos as well as reviewing every photo on the histogram. You should never just rely on Photoshop since you can’t fix a bad photo and once you’re sitting on your couch, it’s too late. I actually took this shot on the boardwalk near the Seattle Aquarium. I wanted to include the water so I stood near the end of the pier and tilted the camera at about a 90 degree angle without cropping out too much of the water. Even though it was overcast and 7:15pm at night, the day was still pretty light out since it was during July. I attached my CIR-PL and warming filter in order to filter out the glare. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the FL at 17mm in order to get the most panoramic shot as possible. I set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at 0 since the glare from the clouds and water was too much for the lens. The aperture was at F-4 and the shutter speed was 1/64 seconds due to the low light and settings.
[/caption] This is a photo of Seattle when driving over the West Seattle Bridge. The container’s and large cranes are located in the Industrial District West and on Harbor Island. The only way that you can get this shot is by driving west and then leaning out of your car in order to take a picture. We were traveling at about 35mph when I took this photo. I asked my wife to get in the far right lane and slow down as much as possible without getting rear ended. The photo seems a little blurry and that’s due to the fact that the bridge is in need of some repair and the ride is pretty bumpy. It also didn’t help that we were moving at 35 mph. I tried my best to get a good shot of the city skyline with the Space Needle stretching all the way to the Pioneer Building. You can also see some of the cruise ships docked in Elliot Bay. I was hoping that the large field of view would have eliminated any blurriness but the ride itself was too challenging and you pretty much only get two shots at best when traveling over the bridge. With all of the spectacular and popular areas available to photograph the city I believe that this offers the most panoramic and stunning views in the city. It offers one of the best perspectives as well as allows you to incorporate the industrial aspect as well. This photo allows you to look across the entire city skyline as well as into the city. To get this shot I set the ISO at 100 and reduced the white balance to -0.3. The camera mode was in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was set at F-7 and the shutter speed at 1/100 second. I set the focal length at 46mm in order to get as much of the city in full view without including any of the steel beams and concrete structures from the bridge. I took this shot in August and it was about 1:30pm and since I was facing north the sun was directly behind me. Obviously I wasn’t able to use a tripod so I had to make sure that I kept a steady hand and had to compensate for the bumpy ride.
[/caption] Happy 50th birthday to one of the most spectacular and iconic buildings in the United States. A truly awesome piece of architecture that is as photogenic as it is majestic.
[/caption] Downtown Seattle, WA with the Space Needle towering in the foreground offers a great view of the city. I have so many photos of downtown Seattle, WA and I still can’t stop comparing them. There are so many photographic opportunities that you can’t help but try to think of new ways to capture the cities personality. Once you’ve decided on the best geographical locations to photograph the city, your next approach is to choose the correct lens, camera mode and most importantly taking advantage of the changing weather conditions. It seems that Seattle’s weather either creates the most fantastic shooting environments or it can completely dash any chances in getting a descent shot. This shot was taken at Kerry Park and is located north of downtown. It’s the most popular place to take photos and for good reason. I was using my Canon T1i and my Sigma 17-70mm lens. I attached my CIR-PL and warming filter in order to saturate the sky and the buildings lights. I set the focal length at 70mm in order to surround the photo with the tall buildings and frame the Space Needle just off center. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake or blur. The camera was in Program/Normal mode so the aperture shot at F-4 since I had my filters and set the ISO at 100 and reduced the white balance at -0.7. This photo was taken on 7/10/11 at about 9:50pm. The sunset was at about 9:30 and the cobalt blue sky created a great backdrop for the bright lit buildings. I felt pretty lucky that there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and that’s pretty rare in Seattle.
[/caption] Kerry Park isn’t just known for offering stunning views of downtown Seattle and the Space Needle. While waiting for the sun to set, there are several opportunities to photograph Elliot Bay. Kerry Park offers stunning views of West Seattle, Elliot Bay and Bainbridge Island. This photo clearly shows just how beautiful and colorful this part of Seattle really is. The houses in the foreground have some of the best views in the city. You can watch the boats motor along the bay as well as dream about owning one of the condos that stretch along West Seattle and Alki Beach. I felt very lucky to get this photo since I wasn’t even thinking about aiming my camera in this direction since I was so content on photographing downtown Seattle as the sun was lowering in the west. I finally decided to take this shot when I noticed the last of the suns rays were shinning perfectly over the building and ship in the foreground. The entire scene is almost perfectly cast in the sunset with no real flaws in the lighting. The shadows and sun lit scenery is almost in perfect harmony with one another. Since the lighting was low I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake or blur. I attached my CIR-PL, warming and UV filter in order to saturate the sky and bring out the colors of the sun soaked buildings and boats in the bay. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 70mm. The camera was in Program/Normal mode and I set the ISO at 100 and reduced the white balance to -1.7. The aperture was automatically set at F-4.6 and the shutter speed at 1/128 second. This photo really shows the benefits of using the automatic setting rather than the manual setting since the sensor set the perfect aperture and reduced the stop down to 1/128 second. This photo was taken on 7/10/11 at about 8:45pm. I highly recommend spending several hours at Kerry Park and plan on thinking outside the box since there are so many photographic options that don’t only include downtown Seattle. However, you will find it really difficult leaving the park after sunset without taking a minimum of 150 photos of the city skyline.
[/caption] This photo of the Seattle skyline was taken at about 10:00pm and the night sky was pretty dark but not completely void of any color. I wanted to create a black and white photo and try to make the backdrop of the city completely black. After spending several hours going through my best candidates I realized that you need to look for a photo that was taken about 30 minutes after sunset. This way you still have the glare from the city lights in the foreground but a darker night sky behind the city lights. I made sure to take full advantage of Photoshop and found myself changing the blue color change as well as the contrast when the Photoshop was in the convert to black and white graph. I found that if you try to manipulate the color and saturation, while the photo is still in color, you will have a hard time changing it to the convert to black and white graph. Once I was happy with the way the photo looked in black and white I then made some minor changes to the saturation and brightness. I took this photo last summer on 7/11/11 and the day had some clouds so I wanted to make sure that the color scheme of the clouds would be blacked out. I had originally set my ISO to 100 and the white balance at -0.3. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and had my CIR-PL and warming filter attached. I had the camera mode at shutter priority so I could set the speed at 16 seconds and the aperture was at F-6.4. I also had the focal length at 46mm in order to get somewhat of a close up of the city skyline without eliminating too much of the city skyline. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch to avoid any camera shake.
[/caption] I was amazed to have the opportunity to photograph the Seattle skyline with the moon looming over the city. Too make things even better is that the clouds were amazing and Mt. Rainier looked spectacular. I couldn’t have picked a better day to photograph the sunset at Kerry Park. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and attached my CIR-PL and warming filter in order to soften the scene and saturate the sky. I took this picture just minutes before sunset and set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at 0 in order to create the best possible exposure. Since I had the camera in Normal/Program mode the aperture was automatically set at F-4 and the shutter speed at 1/60 second. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake. I had the focal length at 23mm in order to create a large landscape but didn’t want to make the city look too far away. I lost count of the amount of tripods and cameras crowded along tiny Kerry Park. I also believe there were two wedding photo shoots going on as well as several modeling photo shoots. Even though its a very popular place to photograph the city it’s hardly difficult to see why.
[/caption] Some of the most spectacular views available in Seattle are near the many piers that dot the city. Sometimes all you need is some clouds or a subject. In this case I was able to include several subjects in order to get this photo. I was standing near pier 58 when I decided to take a picture of Mt. Rainier. I was surprised to have the opportunity to take this photo with so many subjects as well as the spectacular clouds looming over the mountain. The only thing missing in the shot is a boat. I took this shot using my Canon T1i along with my Sigma 17-70mm lens. I was using my tripod, bubble level and remote switch as well as attaching my CIR-PL and warming filter. I took this photo at about 5:00pm so the glare was still pretty extreme so I set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -0.3. Since I had the camera mode in Program/Normal the aperture was set at F-6. Due to the high glare the shutter speed was at 1/197 second.
[/caption] This week I spent three days scouring the best vantage spots of the Seattle skyline and after visiting some new spots as well as returning to the already popular spots that I’ve been to before I’ve decided that West Seattle provides the absolute best view of the city. This is especially true for sunset and sunrise photos. Keller park may provide a spectacular view of Mt. Rainier but there are several obstacles like trees and houses. There is no other place that offers a view like the one I’ve provided in this post. You can see the entire city with the space needle to the left and the stadiums and industrial harbor to the right. An ultra wide angle lens or even a fish eye lens would allow you to see even more of the city but this photo includes the most important features. Having Elliot Bay in the foreground and including the sky provides the most awesome photographic opportunity. This is also the only spot in the city that allows you to get every single high rise from north to south. You can really see just how massive Seattle really is by counting all of the buildings. You can also photograph the numerous ships, boats and ferries that navigate the bay. I never get tired nor have I ever taken this vantage spot for granted especially since each sunrise and sunset offers the best opportunities. I was using my Canon T1i along with my Sigma 17-70mm lens. I attached my CIR-PL and warming filter in order to saturate the cobalt blue sky and water as well as warm the lights emitting from the city. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake or blur. I always like to open the shutter as long as I can since I like to smooth out the water in Elliot Bay as well as blur some of the clouds. This can sometimes be frustrating since several planes fly directly over the city and dozens of boats cruise the bay which is directly in front of the city. It ends up becoming a cat and mouse game as you try to time your shot. In fact, I had set the shutter priority to 30 seconds in order to really create a dynamic shot but since the shutter was open for 30 seconds I had to make sure that there were no ferries or planes in the vicinity since 30 seconds is a lot longer than it seems. This is especially true since Seattle’s Elliot Bay is one of the busiest ports as well as having one of the busiest sky’s. I took this photo on 7/11/11 at about 9:50pm and the sun set at about 9:10pm. This is go time for me since the cobalt blue sky and water is one of the best times to take a flawless shot as well as create a warm blue scene with the bright lights and silhouette of the buildings. Since the camera mode was in Shutter Priority and I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at +0.7 the aperture was automatically set at F-8. If you wait until about 10:00pm the sun will be completely gone and the bright lights will create a orange hue along the water and the sky. You have to watch out for a grainy look since the sky and water are completely black but you can get a spectacular shot if you set the shutter speed and aperture correctly and change out your lenses.
[/caption] I was stunned to find out that the city of Seattle had built a new dock for the cruise ships since I visited last summer. I only stumbled on it while strolling along the waterfront while trying to find the best vantage points on the many piers that jut out from the main road. This is probably one of the best places to photograph the city since you can see Mt. Rainier to the south as well as the entire bay with the Olympic mountains in the west. They even built two sky walks that take you over Alaskan way street. This is especially awesome since you can stand on the sky walk and photograph in either direction since the top level is completely open. There are even some perfect platforms where you can set up your tripod to take your best shots. I was tempted to stay here for some great night photos but settled on the early evening when the sky was at its best. You can see that the highrises and sky scrapers are so close that you can almost touch them as well as the marina below. I would recommend this spot for the best photos along the waterfront. The huge white roof in the lower part of the photo is the new seafood restaurant that looks like a giant ship. There is plenty of room on either levels to take in the views or sit on one of the many benches dotting the pier. I took this shot on 7/10/11 at about 5:00pm and the sun and clouds had created this amazing glow above the city. I was using my Canon T1i along with my Sigma 17-70mm lens. I was using my tripod and remote switch in order to avoid any blur due to the glare being created by the building, sun and water. I attached my CIR-PL and warming filter in order to saturate the sky and tone down the overexposure of the sky scrappers. I had the camera in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was set at F-5.7 since I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at +0.3. I was so happy with this photographic spot that I returned the next day and had several photos that I kept. However, this photo includes so many subjects that you can see why I was so impressed with this spot. You can also clearly see the Space Needle looking towards the north as well as the many condos.