The Towers of Power

UW Red Square Brick Towers

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The University of Washington is not lacking for nice architecture.  Quite opposed to the soviet-bloc style architecture of my alma mater, UW for the most part feels the way a real old-fashioned school should – lots of ornate stone buildings with ivy up the side.  They also have this brick thing going on in places, especially the aptly-named Red Square (not to be confused with that other Red Square).  Although home to a couple statues, a lot of freshmen, and a great view of Suzallo Library, I like the brick monoliths above the best.   The fact that they only built them to ventilate the parking garage underneath only sorta detracts from them.

Up In Smoke

UW Powerplant Smokestack HDR

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The UW has a power plant.  I suppose it’s pretty obvious when you look at the massive smokestack, constantly billowing… well… smoke, I guess.  I’ve looked at it a million times, but it wasn’t until I was lurking around campus the other day, trying to find an innocuous place to illegally park while driving the afternoon impromptu shuttle run that I realized how close you can get to it.  Even though it still produces 40% of the campus emissions (coal to natural gas switchover in the 80’s not withstanding), I’ve always loved looking at it.  A massive symbol of industry, hiding in plain view next to Montlake boulevard.

I took this picture with my wonderful Tokina 12-24 wide angle lens.  Although I was a little worried about how long I could hang around taking pictures of university infrastructure before someone ran me off, I got up as close as possible to the base of the stack and shot almost straight up.  In a more documentary picture, especially shooting from corner to corner of the frame, I might have used Photoshop to straighten out some lines, but I liked the effect of all the angles in this picture.  Using my standard HDR setup (handheld, but tight against my wonderful R-Strap, burst mode, AEB) I shot three shots and used Photomatix to combine them, but I dialled down the insanity a bit as I didn’t think this picture needed the glowing lights treatment.  I really like this shot in general – having a good subject means you don’t need to work nearly as hard to make the final product something you like.