Happy Solstice Sunset

Summer in Seattle makes the winter almost worthwhile.  Yesterday was the solstice and it was light out until almost 10 PM.  Not a cloud to be seen and perfect weather.

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I’ll admit that this picture wasn’t from the solstice proper – I took it a week or two back, but it was on one of our other perfect days.  Downtown doesn’t have as much of a focal point as I’d like – the space needle is way too far north and most of the bigger and more distinct buildings are buried down the hill.  The twin circular towers of the Westin are about the more distinctive things we have.  It does remind me of the World’s Fair 1960’s style stuff that still lingers (space needle, monorail, etc) so I guess that’s ok.

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!

Seattle Comes Alive At Night

As you know, I went out to find the P.I. Globe before it ground to a halt.  Doing so means a little hike, but it wasn’t all for naught.  I got the picture I wanted and I also got a little something else:

The Eagle (sculpture) and Space Needle at night

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At first it seemed like everything was still.  I can’t say quiet, as you might notice the blur of a freight train through the bottom of the frame.  With a wide field of view, this also happens to cross the approach path for Seatac Airport.  I love the morse-code of dots and dashes the planes make through my frame and set the exposure up to 13 seconds to record it.  The foreground sculpture is called Eagle and was created by Alexander Calder in 1971.  It is the most recognizable piece of the Olympic Sculpture Park (or “the sculpture garden”, as most people would call it) and I was really happy to capture this shot of it with the most recognizable Seattle landmark in the background.