Lime Kiln Lighthouse in Green

Lighthouses are easy – super distinctive architecture makes the photo part obvious.

This is the Lime Kiln Lighthouse on the west shore of San Juan Island.  I’m not sure I like the lines from this angle but I didn’t want to straighten the building or the horizon.  I really like what the sky does with the LomoChrome Purple film on a bright day.  This was taken with no filter, FWIW.  This film can be pushed from 100-400, which is what I shot this at, using my old Canon A1 and a 50mm lens.  I’m not sure if the grain pattern would be significantly different at 100, but it’s fun to see it this way.  I didn’t retouch this more or less at all.

  • Aperture: ƒ/1.8
  • Focal length: 50mm
eclipse, seattle, solar, totality

2017 Eclipse from Seattle

The eclipse today – the first seen in totality across the United States in 99 years was something to behold, even if you didn’t plan right.  I didn’t plan right.

I should have gone to Oregon to see 100% instead of 92% here in Seattle.  I definitely should have tested my gear, rented something better, and composed my shot.  Instead I found what I had and did what I could.

eclipse, seattle, solar, totality

It turns out everyone tries to rent massive zoom lenses the day before eclipses.  It also turns out that even when the camera store can dig up one 400mm for $100/day, you’d still have to pay far more than that for the ND filter you’re gonna need to shoot an eclipse.  Instead, I used my 24-105 (which maps out to 168 on a crop-sensor) and the crappy 4x ND filters I had.  I’m not sure if was just me or the lens or the filters, but yeah – lots of flare.  As it turns out I’m ok with it, because the eclipse was high enough in the sky that it’s hard to get anywhere near it and still have something of interest in the frame.  This shot is about as full as it got in Seattle.

Take pictures, have fun.

  • Aperture: ƒ/22
  • Camera: Canon EOS 70D
  • Focal length: 105mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter speed: 1/320s

A New Sort of Infrared

I never stop bemoaning the loss of my favorite Aerochrome EIR that Kodak stopped making while I wasn’t looking.  Even though I found a little left, it was super spendy, hand-rolled, and only in a larger format.  Folks like Lomo have stepped up with some similar films, but nothing is exactly what I wanted – nothing is Aerochrome.

But these days, what I really wish I had was a digital version.  When one of my friends got the hotfilter on his digital camera removed (making it sensitive to IR light), I started looking into it and after making the mistake of buying a Canon 5D (which we won’t talk about), the good folks at Kolari Vision sent me out for a Sigma DP2x – a “pro-grade” point and shoot with a 2.8 fixed lens and a Foveon sensor.  It’s one of the easiest cameras to convert and they told me it gave a very Aerochrome-like look when it was done.

So how did it turn out?  Well I’m still figuring it out.

Infrared Tree

The camera wasn’t built for this, and it’s not sure how to meter, so I’m back to bracketing and then composing into HDR to get things right.  This one is still a bit blown out.  I’m also trying to figure out just what the characteristics of the color shift are, and it will take a little time to do that.

Infrared Columns ParkThat’s more what I was looking for.  I still miss my Aerochrome, but this sure is easier.

 

  • Aperture: ƒ/5.6
  • Camera: SIGMA DP2X
  • Focal length: 24.2mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/125s

Night Shooting in Seattle

I keep a list of photo ideas on my phone.  Since my daughter was born and I’ve been not-unemployed, I find time for none of them.  Recently a friend asked about taking some pictures at night, and I remembered my list.  At the top for the longest time has been going down to the Jose Rizal Bridge to shoot the traffic coming into downtown.

Traffic into Seattle at night, from the Jose Rizal Bridge

 

Winter nights are great, because it’s always dark, and a cloudy backdrop is fine.  Rain actually makes the reflections better, but you’ve got to want to stand in the rain to take the pictures – probably not the best idea, but right after a storm would be great.  This was good enough for me.

Seattle Stadium Night Traffic

 

You’ve also got a great shot of the 90 ramps headed toward Bellevue from up here, and I just love watching the lights blur – the headlights in white and the taillights in red.  Letting the camera see things I can’t see.

Bus at Night from Jose Rizal Bridge

The biggest issues shooting from here, other than a few sketchy folks walking by when you’ve got a bunch of camera equipment out is the bridge itself – cars and buses share it, and you can absolutely feel the vibrations when buses go buy or even when big trucks go underneath it.  If you’re looking for a sharp long exposure, a good tripod is a must, but when the ground shakes, there is only so much you can do.  Along with Kerry Park, the Sculpture Garden, and a few more, this is one of the places I always knew I wanted to take some pictures from.  Glad I had the chance.

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 70D
  • Focal length: 15mm
  • ISO: 250
  • Shutter speed: 5s

Arboretum Offramps to Nowhere

Engineering megaprojects often seem unstoppable.  With the notable exception of the current attempt to dig a tunnel under the Seattle waterfront, these things usually progress in a pretty visible and inexorable way.  Turns out this is not always the case.

In 1972, voters backed the City Council’s plan to cancel the R.H. Thompson expressway, which was to be a third north-south freeway link cutting through the heart of Seattle.  Planning for this freeway started in the 1950s and by the time of the vote, concrete had already been laid in places.  With the cancelation, all work stopped but some elements of the freeway that never was were never removed.

Offramp Edge

Three ramps still dot the Washington Park Arboretum, mixing with the trees and the edge of Lake Washington as a sort of monument to what was.  For years they’ve been there, hiding in plain sight of the active bits of Highway 520 that pass nearby, but as I found out from The Stranger, the upcoming Highway 520 replacement project will finally see these ramps removed.

I’ve always known these things were here – in the summer, people dive off them into the lake.  Driving by, you can often see their barricaded lanes and abrupt endings, but I’d never taken the time or figured out how exactly one gets atop these fantom spans.  It turns out it’s not so hard.  Parking at the edge of the Arboretum, you hike down a foot-warn path and into the shade of some overhanging trees and brambles.  The edge of the construction is abrupt – you’re scrambling up five feet of solid concrete, to stand atop several lanes of proto-freeway.

Arboretum Offramp Entrance

Once atop, only a few barricades and an overhanging tree block you way.  The part that surprised me most was that I always assumed that these things were forbidden – I mean – they’re bits of freeway, not hiking trails, but the upside of the fact that nobody ever planned to just *leave a piece of freeway in a park* is that nobody ever planned to leave a piece of freeway in a park.  There are no signs and no fences.  You just do, or don’t do, what you want.  Clearly people have been doing what they want for a long time.

 

 

Glass shards in the gutter

 

Beer bottles and cans lay thick.  Without any sort of cleaning, the smashed glass in the gutter almost looks like beach sand.  People have been drinking here for a real long time.

Bottles and cans on the freeway

 

Arboretum Offramp Seattle

As you hike up the hill, the road bends and you’ve got a view across the Montlake Cut toward the back of Husky Stadium and the University District.  Something feels very wrong about being up here, but at the same time, the view is great.  Looking down toward the lake, it’s all peace and tranquility.   Probably the best part of the ramps is that at the end of the day, they’re surrounded by the Arboretum.  I’m glad they never built the thing – that they would have cut a swath freeway-wide through these parts of Seattle seems completely ridiculous in retrospect.

Lilypads from the Freeway

Turning around, it’s back down into the darkness.  I’m glad I saw it – they won’t be there much longer.

Tree Covered Offramp

  • Aperture: ƒ/16
  • Camera: Canon EOS 70D
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • ISO: 800
  • Shutter speed: 1/500s

Experimenting with LomoChrome Purple

purple pine needles in Carkeek Park shot with LomoChrome Purple

I’ve made my love for the Infra-red films of old pretty clear around here.  There’s just one problem – you can’t buy them anymore.  Thanks Kodak, and, I suppose economic reality.

There’s another issue though – that film was hard to use.  You had to load it in complete darkness.  It had to be unloaded and processed in complete darkness.  Neither the camera nor the processor could have an infrared detector to read the film codes, which most do.  It was expensive.  You had to process it E-6 – it was slide film.  Don’t get me wrong – if I found some new 35mm stock, I’d immediately buy a ton, but it’s not without issues.

Freight train in Carkeek park, shot with LomoChrome Purple

Enter LomoChrome Purple.  To be clear, this isn’t infrared.  It’s a color-shifting print film.  Ignore the chrome part of the name – it’s print, not slide.  Ignore the implication of infrared – it does some of the same stuff, but it isn’t.  That makes it less cool, but much easier and cheaper to work with.  Although the film isn’t cheap or readily available, you can get it processed the “normal” way at your corner drug store.  And how does it work?

Red tree leaves using pseudo-infrared LomoChrome Purple film

Fiery red leaves on a spring day – color shift courtesy of LomoChrome Purple film

Pretty darn well in the same places that EktaChrome EIR worked best – trees and foliage.  I took it out for a day at the beach in Carkeek Park, and I was happy with the tree shots, fairly happy with the broad panoramas, and a little less happy with people.  Things get a little weird with a green tint on skin, which is too bad – when your jacket turns from purple to green it’s neat.  When your skin turns from tan to green, it’s a little creepy.  The grain is pretty pronounced as well, but the effect is nice.  I’ve left these pictures more or less how they scanned.  You can also shoot and process the film anywhere between 100 and 400 ISO – these I shot at 200.  I’ve got a bunch more so I’ll see what else I can do, now that I know how these came out.

 

 

 

 

Apples. Lots.

I’m clearly city people.  Lake Chelan seemed like quite the agricultural showpiece.  But maybe I’m just thinking of things like these:

dole apple crates

A huge stack of apple crates ready to be filled in Chelan, Washington.

  • Aperture: ƒ/20
  • Credit: Ari Brown
  • Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T1i
  • Taken: 9 September, 2013
  • Focal length: 32mm
  • ISO: 1600
  • Shutter speed: 1/800s

Yeah… that’s a lot of apples

  • Aperture: ƒ/20
  • Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T1i
  • Focal length: 32mm
  • ISO: 1600
  • Shutter speed: 1/800s