[/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.
[/caption] This shot was taken from the deck of a ship while cruising along Elliot Bay. We bought a ticket and boarded one of the many boat trips offered by Argosy Cruises and proceeded to tour along the Bay. On a sunny day I think that it’s well worth the money, especially if you’re wanting to get some really cool pictures that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to get. On this day the sky’s were filled with smoke due to a raging fire that was burning in the Olympic National Park. The day brought unusual 90 degree temperatures and a very rare clear sky with no clouds in sight. I knew that August would be the best time to find good weather in Seattle but I never imagined this. I took this photo on 8/16/10 and it was about 11:55am. The sun was in the upper right hand corner of this shot so I tried to position my camera to bend the overexposed light as much as possible. I was using my Tokina 12-24mm wide angle lens and I had it at 24mm. To help tame the sunlit sky I set the ISO to 100, the white balance to -0.3 and attached my warming and CIR-PL filter. I wasn’t using my tripod since the boat was rocking quite a bit and there was enough light to eliminate the need. The camera mode was in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was at F-7 and the shutter speed at 1/125 second. Though days like this in Seattle are rare you have to visit the city when the weather is nice. It’s amazing to hang out along the many beaches, watch the hundreds of daily boaters go by or just hang out gazing at the city skyline. Seattle is deffinitely the place to be when the weather is nice.
[/caption] I normally don’t change many of my photos to black & white due to the fact that I like to show the colors that engulf the Pacific Northwest. I also find myself spending so much time on my color shots that I forget to chance any to Black & White. This is kind of strange though since I have an entire Gallery on my website dedicated to Black & White shots. However, I decided to go through some of my Seattle photos that I took last summer to see how they would turn out and I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. This shot was taken from West Seattle with Elliot Bay and Seattle in the background. Downtown Seattle is about a mile from where I took the photo. You can see that the Space Needle isn’t in this photo. The Space Needle is located on the left but unfortunately the city skyline is so long that I wasn’t able to get the Space Needle as well as the Port of Seattle and Quest field in the photo. If you were to use a wide angle lens you would be able to get the entire skyline but the skyline would be too far away and the buildings would look like tiny ants running across the photo. In fact, the Space Needle is so much farther north from the city skyline that I decided that I didn’t want to lose any of the main sky scrapers as seen on the right of the photo. I also like that you can see the bright lights emitting from the stadium and also coming from the port with the ships docked at the waters edge. I was using my Canon EOS T1i along with my Canon 18-24mm lens and I had the focal length at 29mm. It was 9:37pm at night so the sun had already set just behind me. I was wanting to get as much glare from the lights in the city as possible as well as blurring the water so I set the shutter to 20 seconds. I had to attach my ND4 and my warming filter to ensure that there wasn’t too much over exposure. I also set the ISO to 100 and the white balance to -1. The camera setting was at Program/Normal mode so the aperture was automatically set at F-9. I normally always use shutter priority whenever I set the shutter speed but on this particular shot it came out better while the setting was in Program/Normal mode. This is mostly due to the wide field of view. One great thing about black & white photography when shooting a city skyline is that you can see the hue surrounding the upper parts of the overexposed parts of the photo.
[/caption] Most people say that the view from Kerry Park is hands down the best place to view the city. It’s pretty hard to argue that statement especially when you can see Mt. Rainier in the background as well as the Space Needle in the foreground. It’s the only place that I was able to include the mountain with the city. You can also see all the way across Elliot Bay and view parts of the Olympic mountains as well as watch the boats enter the harbor. However, I can’t really decide if this is truly the best place to view the city. It is by far one of the best places but I don’t know if I agree it’s the best. As a photographer, there are several parks to get some amazing panoramic photos and unfortunately Kerry Park is on the north side of the city which limits your view of how massive and long the city really is. There are also a lot of tall trees that obscures the views as you can see in this photo. However, Gas Works park and West Seattle allows you a much better panoramic view of the city. I had to use my 12-24mm lens to have the Space Needle and Quest field in the same frame when I took my photo from West Seattle. You can also see that photo that I took and posted on my blog on 8/1910. I also wrote a very extensive article when I first returned from my photography trip last summer. Gas Works park offers some great views as seen from the east part of the city. I will admit that Kerry Park is the most well kept and tranquil park that I have visited so far in Seattle but I don’t think it offers the best panoramic views of the city. My vote for the best place to view Seattle is in West Seattle. But then again that’s just my opinion. To get this shot I was using my Canon EOS Rebel T1i along with my 18-55mm lens. I was using my CIR-PL and my warming filter. There was a huge wildfire that started in the Olympic mountains a few days earlier which caused the orange haze as seen in the background. The 90 degree weather and stale air didn’t help either. However, it did create a really nice hue around mt. Rainier. I was using my tripod, bubble level and remote switch since we visited the park to get some nice sunset shots. The camera was in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was set at F5 and the shutter speed was at 1/20 second. Due to the glare from the haze I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance to -1.3. This photo was taken at 8:17pm so the sun hadn’t set yet. I believe the sun set around 8:50pm. Unfortunately many of my sunset photos didn’t come out as planned since the forest fire had created a strong glare and each time I took a photo after sunset the glare from the lights made the photo look blurry. However, I was able to get a few keepers and I will be posting them on my blog soon.
[/caption] This is now only my second photo of Seattle, WA that I’ve posted on my blog. Recently I’ve been pondering my next visit to this great city so I can take some more amazing photos. This photo was taken from West Seattle which is just across Elliot Bay. It’s an easy and quick drive from I-5 and it offers some of the most amazing photo opportunities in the city. The sun sets behind you and you can capture the glare of the sinking sun as it shines over the sky scrapers. You can also get some great shots of the Olympic mountains as the sun sets behind the mountains. This shot was taken last July and the temperatures on our trip were in the mid 90 degree mark. The temps were so warm that the air was a bit stale and a forest fire in the Olympic mountains really ruined the air quality all over the city. You can kind of see the smoke behind the city. I took this shot at about 9:00 pm, just as the sun had set. I wanted to be able to use the shutter mode on the camera but there was still too much glare. However, I just attached my CIR-PL and warming filter in order to filter out the glare from the lights and water as well as soften the glare from the lights. The shutter speed was at 6 seconds and the F stop was at F-14. I was using my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. I was using my Canon EOS Rebel T1i along with my Canon 55-250mm telephoto lens. The focal length was at 109 and I set the ISO at 800 and the white balance at 0. I spent over two hours photographing from this spot and I experimented with several different settings including several different filter’s. I was wanting to get a shot using the shutter but without having any boats in the frame. This would eliminate any tracers created by the movement of the boats and their lights. However, this is not an easy task when taking pictures in one of the busiest harbors in America. On my next trip I will try to visit during either the months of April or May so I can have a better chance of getting some great photos with clouds and some cooler weather. This shouldn’t be a problem since we all know how rainy and unpredictable the weather is in Seattle. I will be posting some more photos of Seattle in the coming weeks so I can show off some of the great views from all over the city.
[/caption] I finally had the opportunity to visit Seattle and take some photos of the city. Just before my trip I read that Travel+Leisure 2009 had rated the top 100 cities in the world with the most scenic skylines. Seattle was rated #10 in their magazine. I was surprised to see them get such a high ranking. After all, their #10 ranking was for the world, not just for the United States. I figured that I really needed to take some good shots in order to really show the beauty of the Seattle skyline. I did my homework and found several areas throughout the city that were known for the best city views. I went to every scenic viewpoint that I could find and made sure to return for the best sunset shots. I drove to almost every neighborhood in the city so I could really take in the personality within the city limits. West Seattle is where I took this photo on the blog page. I first arrived to this spot in the afternoon and I knew that this would be the best place for sunset and twilight shots. West Seattle is the best place to get an entire panoramic photo that really shows just how massive and beautiful the skyline is. You can also watch all of the boats enter Elliot Bay. I was fortunate to find great vantage points from the north, east, south and west sides of the city. It would take several weeks to really capture all of the photography areas within Seattle. To get this shot, I removed my CIR-PL and my warming filter since the sun had already set and the color of the scene was calm. I set my camera to Program mode. The F stop was at 10 and I had the ISO setting at 200. The White Balance was at 0 since the color was almost perfect. I was using the shutter priority and I had it set at 20 seconds in order to maximize the glow of the lights. Since the bay is so busy it can be hard to use a long exposure without have a moving boat in the photo. This is especially true if you don’t want to show the movement of the boats in the foreground of your shot. I plan on returning again as soon as possible so I can continue to get some great photos of the city.