the blog of Seldom Seen Photography

Archive for April, 2012

Moonrise on Seattle

Seattle Moonrise

Seattle MoonriseIf you’ve followed my posts lately, you know I recently took a day trip to Seattle. The earlier portions of the trip were described in my Cherries of the Dawgs and More from Seattleposts.

Space Needle

Space Needle about 30 minutes after sunset, but before moonrise. Note you can't tell if the horizon is clear or not.

One of the main goals of the trip was to photograph the full moon rising over the city. Using the program, The Photographer’s Ephemeris, I planned where I should shoot the moon as it rose. I calculated that the moon would rise close to the Space Needle if photographed from Ursula Judkins Viewpoint in the Magnolia area, just west of the Magnolia bridge. Early in the day I drove by this park to scout out where I should shoot from. I picked a spot by the parking lot that looked like it had the perfect view of the Space Needle.

As I photographed throughout Seattle that day, I worried whether the clouds would obscure the view of the rising moon. The eastern horizon never did look very clear. When the sun got low over the Olympic Mountains west of Puget Sound, I left the downtown waterfront, where I had been working, and headed back toward Magnolia.

I had selected the Parkmont Place viewpoint for a sunset shot. This long, narrow park along the Magnolia bluff top offers a number of viewpoints looking west over Puget Sound toward the Olympic Mountains. As I crossed the Magnolia Bridge heading toward Parkmont Place, I drove by the Ursula Judkins Viewpoint I had scouted earlier. There was one photographer there; he had a tripod set up in the exact spot I had earlier picked out.

The sunset was okay, not great; but I did get some nice shots of the ferry MV Wenatchee as it steamed from Bainbridge to Seattle and the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis as it cruised northward on the Sound. The sun set around 7:45 p.m. A little before 8:00, I drove back to Ursula Judkins for  the moonrise at 8:18 p.m. The drive took about 3 minutes and the eastern sky was mostly cloudy. I couldn’t tell if it was clear on the horizon.

When I arrived at the viewpoint, the one other photographer had morphed into about 30 photographers! I was lucky to get the last parking spot in the park. The spot I had earlier picked out was now crowded with about 15 tripods. I set up at the car and then walked over there with my tripod. I had my small tripod with me, and it was not tall enough to get a clear view without other tripods and photographers in the way. I moved, and ended up back near my car, where with my 70-200 zoom lens I could isolate the Space Needle well.

I snapped a few frames of the Space Needle as darkness descended, still unsure if the moon would show through the clouds. Then an orange glow appeared in back of the Cascade Mountains. Soon, the moon was an orange ball shining through thin clouds immediately over the mountains. Minutes later, it rose further and was hidden by clouds. It made one more partial appearance, but then was again obscured. Most of the other photographers were still there when I left, hoping the moon would again show before it got too high in the sky. But I left, with the drive back to Tacoma in mind. I’m happy with the moonrise shot I did capture; I hope you agree.

MV Wenatchee

The ferry Wenatchee steaming toward Seattle on Puget Sound.

Carrier at Sunset

The USS John C Stennis sailing north on Puget Sound at sunset. The Olympic Mountains are in the background.

More from Seattle

EMP1As I mentioned in my Cherries of the Dawgs post, I had two goals from my recent trip to Seattle: photographing the cherry trees at the University of Washington and shooting a full moon rising shot over the city. Since I was on UW campus in the morning and full moons don’t rise until evening, I had a lot of time on my hands after leaving the campus. I spent most of it at Seattle Center and the Olympic Sculpture Park down on the waterfront.

I’ve shot a few images at Seattle Center before, but not to the extent I’d wanted. I particularly wanted to shoot more abstract shots of the exterior of the Experience Music Project museum, also known as the EMP . This museum is truly unique, designed by Frank O.Gehry, it is formed of multiple, curvaceous sheets of colored metal.  It’s overall shape has been described as the same as a “smashed guitar.” Forbes magazine called it one of the 10 ugliest buildings in the world. But others love it as a fitting representation of rock music, in particular Seattle’s own Jimi Hendrix. Regardless, it is something that is uniquely Seattle, and its exterior makes wonderful images (as I’d hope you’ll agree from the samples shown here). Of course, I took some shots of the Space Needle as well. I had hoped to get some shots of the new Chihuly Garden and Glass at the base of the Space Needle, but it doesn’t open for about a month.

From there I headed down to the waterfront to a visit to the Olympic Sculpture Park, which I’d never managed to visit before. It was well worth a walk through, especially for the cost (free!). I also spent some time just walking down the waterfront, something I have done many times before, but there is always some good shots there.

From there, with the sun about to set, I headed over to Magnolia where I planned my sunset and moonrise shots, but more on that in my next post.


Experience Music Project closeup


Another EMP closeup

Monorail and EMP

The Seattle monorail passes directly through the EMP museum.

Vintage Space Needle

Just a standard shot of the Space Needle. However, I processed in Lightroom to give it a retro look.

Pacific Science Center

The Pacific Science Center courtyard at Seattle Center.

Needle and Fountain

The International Fountain and Space Needle. This fountain is popular with kids of all ages, who try to run down and touch it without getting sprayed.

Olympic Sculpture Park

One of the sculptures at the Olympic Sculpture Park

Orange and Needle

The Space Needle framed by a sculpture in the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Pier 63

Seattle and Bell Harbor from Pier 66 on the waterfront.


Happy Dog

My blog has just surpassed 1,000 followers; now at 1,006 and counting. Thank you!!!

When I started this blog in January 2011, i was unsure if anyone would care. And now, I’m honored and amazed by all of you following my posts. I hope my photography and rambling musings keep you coming back for more. To illustrate this post, I give you Carson, our Newfoundland. He’d plant a big slobbery lick on all of you if he could!

Cherries of the Dawgs

Quad CherriesIf you follow my blog, you may know I’ve been having a problem taking a good day off to go shoot some photos. Last Friday I went up to Seattle, rain or shine and received mostly shine and no rain! I had two main goals for the trip: the cherry trees at University of Washington and shot of the full moon rising over the city. I ended up with a lot of good images, so I’m breaking the trip up into several posts. Today – shots from the University of Washington.Tree on the Quad

I am a graduate of UW. I remember the cherry trees from those four springs 30 years ago, but never found the time to photograph them when I was in school. It seemed it was time to do so. With that goal in mind, I headed straight up I5 to the 45th Street exit in Seattle. I parked in the northern lot ($15 to park – boy has the price of parking risen in the past 30 years!) and headed to the quad. The cherry trees were even more glorious than I remembered. It was in between classes when I arrived, so there was a lot of foot traffic. But after about 10 minutes, most the students were inside, and I was able to get a few compositions without a lot of people. The sky was full of low clouds, so I tried to keep the sky out of my compositions.

Eventually I wandered over to Red Square and took some shots of the Suzzallo Library, including the one below showing the Broken Obelisk sculpture (with Suzzallo in the background).

Besides the cherry trees, another shot I’ve wanted to capture for a long time is one of Suzzallo’s reading room. I entered the library and went up the Grand Staircase to the reading room. Upon entering the room, the silence was intimidating. There were a number of students studying, and I feared my shutter noise would echo throughout the entire room. As it turned out, the shutter noise wasn’t too bad, but the zipper on my camera bag was loud (earning me a sharp look from the nearest student). I quickly shot a couple of series of exposures for HDR processing and got out of there before a librarian showed up.

By the time I left the library, the sun had come out. I walked around campus and eventually headed back to the cherry trees on the quad. After more shots (made more difficult by many more people being present, including several other photographers), I went back to the car and retrieved my partner for the day – our Newfoundland, Carson. Carson and I then walked around while I took a few more photos.

The UW mascot is the Husky, and UW teams, students, and alumni are fondly known as the Dawgs. But Carson was certainly the top dog on campus that day! After the cherry trees, I venture there were more photographs taken of Carson than anything else, with at least 4 students asking to take his picture (perhaps understandable, as Carson is an impressive dog, weighing in at 150 pounds).

Hope you like these shots of the University of Washington campus. More from Seattle to come shortly.

Broken Obelisk and Suzzallo

Broken Obelisk, perhaps not a Chariot of the Gods, but a pretty cool looking pyramid in my opinion.

Suzzallo Reading Room

A 4-image HDR rendering of the Suzzallo Reading Room

Suzzallo and Cherry Blossoms

Cherry trees are not confined to the Quad; here are some on the side of Suzzallo.

Cherry Flower

Close up on one of the Quad's trees.

UW Cherry Tree

One more shot of the cherry trees on the Quad.

Spring Foils Me Again

Small spring flowersI wanted to label this post “Weather Forecasts Suck” but thought that was too self-evident. I’ve been trying to take a day off from my day job for the past 2 week to go out and do some photography. Unfortunately, I keep making the mistake of looking at the weather forecast.

Yesterday was the perfect example, the forecast called for 50% chance of rain, thunderstorms likely. So instead of taking the day off, I went to work. Sure enough, it did rain a bit in the morning, but then it stopped and the sun came out. Most of the day was partly cloudy, and it didn’t rain again until after the sun set. All in all, not much rain, no thunderstorms, and not too bad of conditions for photography (though the sunset was totally lacking). The spring weather foiled me again!

I keep reminding myself, that western Washingtonians need forget about the rain, or they will never go outside. So tomorrow, I’m taking the day off, rain or shine. In case you are curious, the forecast for tomorrow from the Weather Channel’s webpage: “Clouds and limited sunshine with the possibility of some scattered showers during the afternoon. High 53F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%. ”

Just so I could post a photo or two, I did take the camera out in the yard yesterday evening to get a few spring flower shots. These were all taken with my Canon 100mm macro lens.


Here's a flower by the door to my studio.

Flowering Plum

The flowering plum in front of our house is already past its prime.