[/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 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.