[/caption] Again, the San Juan Islands in Washington State offer some of the most amazing sunset opportunities that I have ever witnessed. There always seems to be something different each time I photograph the sunset from the island. I visited the San Juan County park and had the opportunity to take advantage of two nights of spectacular sunsets. I was also pleasantly surprised to find our entire 3 day trip with some of the most awesome weather. This photo was taken at about 8:57pm just as the sun was setting below Vancouver Island in Canada. I set the camera in Normal/Program mode so the aperture was at F-5.6 and the shutter speed at 1/160 second. I attached my CIR-PL and warming filter in order to saturate the landscape and warm the explosion of orange colors above the mountains and in the foreground of the water. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -1 and made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake or blur.
[/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] The sun had just set when I noticed that the lights shinning from the homes in the far right were glowing in the darkening sky. I decided that this would be a good photo opportunity and I wanted to try and get some light glare from the small cluster of porch lights. You can just make out the cluster of homes dotting the edge of the bay. I was wanting to open my shutter as long as possible in order to get a frothy look from the slow moving tide entering the bay but the light was still too bright and the clouds were moving at a pretty good speed. I ended up setting the shutter to 16 seconds and lowered the ISO setting to 100 as well as the white balance to -1. Since the camera was in Shutter priority the aperture was automatically set at F-8, which allowed just the right amount of light. I was using my Canon EOS T1i as well as my Tokina 12-24mm wide angle lens. I was also using my warming and CIR-PL filter. I set the focal length to 21mm so I could show as much of the mountains way out on Vancouver Island as I could. The fast moving clouds were also posing a bit of a problem since I had set the shutter speed to 16 seconds and they were moving rather fast. I was using a tripod, bubble level and remote switch so there was no camera shake but the clouds did cause some blurring effect in the upper right of the photo. I would probably just print an 8×24 or 10×36 panoramic print and have parts of the clouds cropped out. I think this is now my fourth sunset shot I’ve posted on my blog that was taken from this particular weekend, when I was visiting the San Juan Islands, but I have yet to experience such a beautiful and magical place to get these types of photos.
[/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 a photo of some people kayaking along the San Juan Straight with Vancouver Island, British Columbia in the background. This is now my third post on my blog of photos from the San Juan Islands that I that I took last August. You can read about my trip in depth from my blog that I posted on August 27th. I was able to get so many awesome photos that I want to post as many as I can on my blog so I can share them more. The day that I took this photo was an absolute epic sunset opportunity. The sky’s were clear, the ocean was calm and the air was very still. Like many of my sunset shots taken on the island I took this photo at the San Juan County Park. I noticed that there were several kayakers paddling along the bay so I decided to try to capture some of them in my photos. The sun had already set so I knew that it wouldn’t be easy photographing moving objects while the sky’s were already darkened. They were pretty far from where I was standing so I had to change to my 55-250mm telephoto lens in order to zoom in as much as possible. I changed from shutter mode to Normal/Program mode so I could eliminate as much blur as possible. The aperture was at F5.7 and the shutter speed was at 1/13 second. Even though the light was dim I had to set the ISO to 100 and the white balance to -.1 in order to maximize the orange hue in the background. There were several different ways that I could have tackled this shot but I decided that this was the best way to get the best picture. I did however remove my warming and CIR-PL filter since the sun had already set and I wasn’t using shutter mode. I made sure to have my camera on a tripod as well as a bubble level and remote switch. In order to get this photo I chose the best way was to set my camera at a designated spot and wait for the kayakers to come in to view. However, you can see some blur on the paddles due to this. I could have tried panning but I felt that the entire photo would be blurry due to the low light and movement of the camera. You can also see some seagulls bobbing in the water near the kayakers. I can’t wait to get back to the islands next summer. This is truly a place that you need to visit when the weather is nice.
[/caption] As I patiently wait for the snow to continue to fall in the Oregon Cascades I began to ponder my experience while visiting San Juan Island last summer. I remembered that I had taken a photo that I really liked and forgot to post on my blog. However, I did add it to my website since it is one of my more favorite photos taken just after sunset. The bay was so still that I was able to make it look as though it was made of colored glass and the sky was so amazing that it also looks like an exact replica of the water. All of the colors on this night were absolutely amazing. To get this shot I was using my Canon Rebel T1I and my Canon 18-55mm lens. In order to set the shutter speed to 25 seconds I kept my CIR-PL, warming and UV filter attached since the glare was still pretty intense and I wouldn’t have been able to get the smooth warming effect of the water or sky. I had to take several photos since I was having problems with water spots appearing in the photo. I knew that I needed to have my sensor cleaned but this was the first time it was so evident. A lot of it had to due with the colors in the photo. As you can see, the colors in this photo are pretty dramatic and pretty unusual. You can see Vancouver Island in the distance. I had the camera in Program mode so the F stop was at F-11. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -0.7. Since I took this photo at 8:55 pm, which was just as the sun set over the Island, the colors were really exploding over the water and the sky. I had to take several photos while adjusting my settings but I was pretty satisfied with most of the photos. But again, I was very disappointed with how dirty my sensor was. I took this shot at San Juan County Park, on the northwest side of the island. As I stated in my previous article, I would highly recommend visiting this tiny island since it offers everything that a photographer and outdoor adventurer could ever ask for.
[/caption] Photographing the Needles during sunset is one of the best places to photograph along the Northern Oregon Coast. You can always find a way to use the rocks to shield the sun and create some great personality of the sunset and the beach. The Needles, as well as Haystack rock are at the perfect distance from the beach, which allow you to usually get the moving surf in the foreground without having to stretch your filed of view. However, sometimes high tide will require you to photograph at a further distance. At low tide, you can walk along the many rocks on the beach and use them to create an impressive setting. Sea birds that nest and feed along the beach and rocks also offer some great opportunities to include in your photograph. I took this particular shot during low tide and I was able to get the surf in the foreground as well as the beach. You can just see some of the spray of the water on the far left side of the rock. I also always take a shot of the sun just creeping over the smaller rock in the middle that looks like a ship. Again, there are so many areas to move about during sunset that you usually run out of time as well as risk getting in someone’s way that is also taking sunset shots. I usually try to get here early enough so I can gauge the best place to be when the sun is beginning to set. The tide usually dictates where I plan to position myself. During this particular photograph, I was using my ND4 filter along with my CIR-PL, warming and UV filter. Again, I would recommend using a CIR-PL if you expect to use the shutter mode. You can’t take these type of shots without first eliminating some of the harsh light due to the intensity of the sun’s rays at sunset. The ND4 also allows me to open the shutter in order to get the mirrored image of the water while the sun was still somewhat high above the horizon. I was still only able to have the shutter open for 1.61 seconds but without the ND filter I wouldn’t have been able to use the shutter at all. The F stop was at F-36, the ISO was set at 100 and I set the white balance to -2. I was using my Canon 18-55mm lens and had the focal length at 49mm. I was also using my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. This shot would be impossible without a tripod. Cannon beach is one of my favorite places to get these types of shots when visiting the Northern Oregon coast and I would recommend Cannon Beach to anyone that may be visiting Portland since it’s an easy 80 minute drive.
[/caption] Downtown Portland Oregon on the last day of summer 2010. The cloud formations in Portland had been creating some dramatic shapes so I decided to take some shots at sunset and twilight. September and early October always seem to be the best times to get great sunset shots throughout Oregon and This time was no exception. The sun set at about 7:25 and this shot was taken at 7:54, just after sunset. Since the glare was still pretty high, I attached my ND4 along with my CIR-PL, warming filter and UV filter. Since the clouds were moving pretty fast I reduced the shutter speed to only 13 seconds. This allowed me to smooth out the river movement but also capture the clouds without getting too much blur effect. I was using my tripod, bubble level and remote switch during the whole evening since the light was too low. I had the ISO at 200 and the F stop was at F8. I was using my 18-55mm Canon lens and had the focal length at 24mm. I also had the white balance at only -0.3 since the ND4 filter had darkened the shot pretty well. Whenever I want to get the best panoramic shots of Portland I almost always go the the east side of the Willamette river and stroll down the jogging and biking path that parallels the I-5. There are several great places to set up your tripod and several areas to stop along the way.
[/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.
[/caption] Recently I’ve had the opportunity to shoot Portland at night. I’ve been photographing the downtown area for several years but I had never been given the opportunity to take a photo at night looking east and at an elevated position. This spot puts me just over I-5 and just east of the Willamette river. This provides me with one of the best vantage spots in the city. I wanted to set my shutter long enough so I could get the best flash movements of the headlights and tail lights of the traffic moving about the city. The colors of the bridges as well as the many other on ramps and roads really gives this photo a lot of personality. To get this shot I was using my 12-24 wide angle lens. I had the focal length at 24mm in order to get as much in the scene as possible. Since the sun had set over an hour ago, I made sure to remove my warming filter and CIR-PL. I was using the shutter priority and had the shutter set at 30 seconds in order to capture as much of the streamers from the cars as possible. The F stop was at F11 and the ISO was at 400. The Exposure Compensation/White Balance was at -.3.