Dutch Tulips

Spring in Seattle is when all the tulips bloom, especially the big farms in the Skagit Valley.  Spring on the blog is when the searches for tulips in Skagit Valley exceed the searches for bokeh.

I was digging in the archives and came across this.  Check out the date – serious blast from the past!

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Two things about this shot.  First off, it isn’t from Seattle – it is from the Keukenhof outside of the Hague in Holland.  The gardens there are an amazing mix of all sorts of flowers, but most notably tulips.  I have some other shots but lost the opportunity for some great ones when I learned that my camera battery gives little warning before giving up.  The second thing is that (as you can see from the info above), this was shot on my old Canon Powershot S400.  Not an SLR and although it was good at the time, really not even a good point and shoot!  If you’re careful and pick the right subject, it doesn’t always matter.  Make sure you hold steady and definitely shoot outside if at all possible – there is usually so much more light than inside that few things will improve your picture quality as much.

This isn’t my favorite shot in the world – I don’t like how close to the center of the frame the subject is – it makes the balance feel funny.  I do like some aspects of it like how the background blurs as you get farther out and how close the main tulip is, but most of those flaws were mine, not the gear.  Shoot with what you’ve got – just remember to shoot!

Stereotypical Seattle Panorama

I suppose it is only fair that if my last post was the stereotypical Seattle photo, this is the stereotypical Seattle panorama.  You get the same Space Needle and Mt. Rainier, but this way you get Elliott Bay and West Seattle as well.  Everyone wins, right?

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This panorama came from the same shoot as the last post and was stitched together from 6 shots.  One of my main problems with panoramas is that things get very wide very fast and they are really hard to view.  To get a little more height, I usually shoot them with my camera in the vertical position to make things a bit taller.  You could shoot them in two rows and stitch them all back together, but that increases the difficulty a good bit.  I also like to use a decent amount of zoom or a longer-length lens.  Wide angle is fun and can be necessary if you are very close to your subject, but the edges of the frame are often distorted, which matters when you’re joining a lot of shots together.  Click for the larger image.  I used the regular size that I always post here – no larger than 1024 pixels wide, but the original is over 17,000 pixels wide!  If anyone is really interested in seeing a higher-quality version, leave me a comment and I’ll see what I can do.

UPDATE: 2010.03.11 – these panoramas really require a larger view than my standard pics do.  Click the image above to see the updated, 250% larger version!

Stereotypical Seattle

It must be stereotype day on yon blog.  I mean… other than taking a ferry to Pike Place Market, I think sunrise over Space Needle with Mount Rainier in the background is about as typical as it gets, yes?

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If the view looks familiar, it’s because Kerry Park is one of the very few places you can shoot this view from, so the idea is hardly unique, but I was still excited to go up there for myself and see what it was all about.  I did a bunch of panoramas too, so you might see some of those coming up.   I like this a lot in HDR, but there is some ghosting – it’s a really busy picture and there are a lot of lines that will show any mis-alignment.  I shot this on a tripod with a cable release, but it’s still not as sharp as I’d like.  I guess there is a reason that my tripod was $80 instead of $500.

Standing up in the park on a cold morning made me think a little more about what it means to make a picture like this.  Sometimes all it takes is a lot of luck and showing up to get exactly what you want, but the real pros put far more work in than you might think.  I wanted sunrise, so I got up early.  I wanted an interesting sky so I waited for some clouds but not too many.  I wanted the sun between the Needle and Mt. Rainier, but when I got there I realized it was coming up much too far to the north – if you want that shot, you need to come back in a whole different season.  Like I said, sometimes you might get lucky, but most of the time it doesn’t just happen!