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

Camera & Lens   Canon EOS 70D (Canon) & EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM     Shutter:   1/320 s
Creation Date:   2017:08:21 10:13:23     Aperture:   f/22.0
Artist:   Ari Brown     ISO:   200
Exposure Mode:   Manual     Focal Length:   105 mm

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.

Anatomy of a Snowpocalypse

The entymology of Snowpocalypse is a little hazy but it seems to have started around here back in ’05 or ’06.  I think it’s fair to say that any time a couple of inches of snow falls from the sky on the greater Seattle area and actually stays on the ground, it’s a snowpocalypse.  I’m not going to get into the justifications or explain why in Seattle that’s a big deal where in other places they just deal with it, but these things do have a sort of rhythm to them.

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It starts with a lot of breathless weather reports, of course.  A lot of doubt, and at least one false alarm.  Eventually though, it does happen.  It can snow in Seattle.  At the same time, you usually have to go looking for it, at first.

And then it comes down.  The city goes to sleep.  Everyone looks around and enjoys themselves as their employers try and figure out how to wrest some productivity from the cold disaster.  About this time the local news starts driving around the city in the van they’ve dubbed “Snow King” and crashing into parked cars.

I always forget how quickly a neighborhood of asphalt and dirt and grass and cars can be turned into breathless white.  After it all stops, when everything is calm and before the melting starts, there is one moment before the snow turns brown or yellow or other colors you’d rather not think about, when everything is perfectly clean and white.

Snowpocalypse Seattle, 2012 edition.  A good time to give thanks for the ability to work from home.

End of the Line

Always loved industrial areas.  I wish they’d let me wander around rail yards and container storage sites.  Unfortunately, between terrorism and insurance, that’s not going to happen.  The Port of Seattle has a few hidden parks that are invariably next to shipping sites.  Jack Block Park is one of my favorites.  Here is the end of the rail line.

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I wanted to highlight the part of the shot I liked best since I couldn’t frame around the bits I didn’t like.  I used the same technique from here to remove the color from the rest of the shot.  Simple, geometric.  Railroad lines – I’m always trying to frame those.

Twin Towers of Seattle

What’s it about hotels? I think the glossy glass monoliths of Seattle just leave me a bit cold, and the sort of kitchy but at least more… I dunno… hopeful(?) stuff from earlier generations seems like it has a bit more soul. Like our vestigal monorail and Space Needle (both products of the 60’s), the Westin at least *looks* like it hails from the same age.

Twin towers of the Seattle Westin

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As it turns out, the first tower was built in 1969, but the second wasn’t completed until 1982 – I guess by then they had to follow the same plan.  I like the idea of Seattle having a set of twin towers to call its own – maybe not as graceful or aspirational, but they fit the vibe of summertime in the northwest.













Obama at the Bakery

So usually when I want to get a loaf of bread at work, I just go to Grand Central Bakery – about 100 feet away.  Today, it got a little more complicated:

It seems when the president is going to hold a meeting with local business leaders at the place where you usually get snacks and pastries, that is somehow more important.  Funny – I usually go through the door, not a security tent.

These nice gentlemen told me that after the president was gone around 1, they’d be happy to serve me coffee, but right now, I couldn’t be closer than 20 feet from the door.  They didn’t tackle me for taking pictures though, so there’s that.

Glad I didn’t drive today.

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!

Low Light Abstracts Your Photography

I mentioned the Seattle Underground Tour in the last post.  Low light, shoving tourists, not a lot of time.  In cases like this, you get a lot of what you get:

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Sometimes that isn’t a bad thing though.  Back in the film days it was more of a change, but even now it feels odd to some people: taking good pictures is all about taking a whole lot of picture.  What you get will vary and what you expect to like might not be what you do.  For these shots, I wasn’t trying to really document what I was seeing because I knew it wouldn’t come out, but I like the effect anyway.

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The hand-held shots means camera shake.  High ISO means noise.  Funny lighting means… funny light.  It just is what it is and these two, I liked.  Wish I’d have taken more, but it was a tour, not photo time.  Oh… and if you are wondering, these two are both the old glass sidewalk skylights common in Pioneer Square – if you see them on the street, the ground underneath is hollow.