the blog of Seldom Seen Photography

Tacoma Nights

Colors of the NightBreaking from my blog series on the American Southwest, I’m posting something completely different. As I have mentioned in earlier blogs, I am the chairman of the Photo Committee of the Tacoma branch of the Mountaineers. We occasionally have field trips to photograph instead of our regular meetings. Earlier this month, I led our group to downtown Tacoma to try some night photography. Unlike a similar trip earlier this year (described in this post), I did little light painting, mostly relying on existing light (with one exception, in the image of the Pantages Theater below, I used a flash to light up the sculpture in the foreground).

Photography at night is a special experience. Things always look different, and it isn’t always obvious how the camera will see the available light, especially if long exposures are used. Skies that are black to the human eye can pick up a tint, typically orange in urban areas (from sodium vapor street lights). Other lights may give off a more yellowish -orange (tungsten lamps) or greenish  (fluorescent bulbs) tones. Then there are neon lights of all colors. Changing the color balance when processing the images can add new twists to the color.

Besides showing colors the human eye can’t normally see, I love long-exposure shots for another reason – they compress time into a single instant. Car lights become red and white trails, people can become ghostly shadows, objects that move into a frame during an exposure can seem half there. These are more results that are not totally predictable.

Here are some shots from one November Tacoma night (even though taken on a single night, I thought the title “Tacoma Nights” sounded better than “Tacoma Night”; a little literary license); I hope you like them.

Pantages

Pantages Theater (f/11, 5 seconds, hand-held flash)

Ghostly People

Ghost people on Broadway Street (f/11, 30 seconds)

Tullys

Coffee shop at corner of St. Helens and Broadway (f/8, 3.2 seconds)

Bridge of Reflections

Walkway to a parking garage (f/11, 20 seconds)

Ravenous and the Ghost Car

Ravenous and the ghost car (f/8, 15 seconds)

Outside the Silverstone

Club Silverstone on St Helens Avenue (f/8, 4 seconds)

The YMCA

Former YMCA on Market Street (f/8, 2.5 seconds)

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2 responses

  1. Dawn

    I haven’t thought about the Pantages since I performed there with the TYS. Ahh… Saturday mornings in the nearby park, playing chamber music with that distinct Tacoma… erm… fragrance. Thanks for the flashback – great pics!

    November 23, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    • Dawn, glad my photos gave you a good memory (at least for things other than that “distinct Tacoma … fragrance”). It’s funny, when I was young, our family occasionally drove through Tacoma on trips to the west side (I grew up in Spokane). And I remember that “Tacoma aroma,” and I remember swearing I would never live here. Yet here I am, and I love it. Of course, the aroma is gone – thank God for environmental regulations!.

      November 24, 2011 at 11:12 am

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