the blog of Seldom Seen Photography

Night at the Glass Museum

View from Dock StreetOne of my favorite places to shoot in Tacoma is the Museum of Glass. With its unique architecture, reflecting ponds, and setting on the Thea Foss Waterway next to the historic Albers Mills building, it provides plenty of fun compositions. Though it can be photographed any time of day, I especially like photographing there at night. I really like the varying metal textures of the hot-room cone and “wing” over the elevators on the upper plaza, and how they reflect light at night. I also quite like the contrast between the brick of Albers Mill and the metal of the Glass Museum’s  hot-room cone. There is something magic about shooting there in the dark with long exposures; you are never quite sure what you will end up with in your shot.  What the camera sees is always different from what the naked eye sees. With practice, I’ve learned to anticipate what my long-exposure images of the Glass Museum will look like, but I always get a couple of surprises as well.

Last Tuesday, about five of us from the Tacoma Mountaineers went down there to shoot. We stayed about two hours and had a good time playing around in the dark. There were very few other people round to potentially mess up compositions;  but doing night photography, other people don’t matter too much. With long exposures, they can walk right through your composition and never be seen. It’s the magic of night.

There are quite a few light sources around the area,  both from the museum itself and from neighboring properties, so the exposures don’t have to be too long. Most my exposures were one to three minutes using ISO 100 with f-stops of f/8 – f/16. What makes things interesting from a photographic perspective is that the lights have many different color temperatures. There is a general orange glow to the area from sodium-vapor lights that are common in the city, but there is also green, yellow, red, blue and even purple light in the area. There seems to be no “correct” white balance due to all these various light sources, so it is fun processing in Lightroom and playing with the white balance sliders to find pleasing sets of colors. Typically I like one color setting for the buildings, typically something warm, and a different one for the sky. On the photos shown here, I used the Lightroom paintbrush to tone down and darken the orange tone of the sky that results from the city street lights.

Enjoy these images of night at the Glass Museum, and as always, feel free to leave a comment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Albers Mills

Stairs

Wedge and Cone2

Cone Reflection

 

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5 responses

  1. Nice work!

    January 18, 2015 at 4:08 pm

  2. This is really an outstanding set you have here Joe. The first thing that strikes me is the excellent contrast and natural look to the colors. This is not easy to do with night shots!

    January 18, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    • Thanks Ernie. As I mentioned, I used different white balance settings for the sky in these shot (using the paintbrush in Lightroom, while also darkening the sky at the same time). I think that helps. I’m not a big fan of the orange looking clouds due to sodium-vapor street lights.

      January 19, 2015 at 8:54 am

  3. Laura G

    I love the one with the stairs and the triangular roof. It looks like you could walk right up and board a spaceship.

    January 21, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    • Thanks Laura. The ‘futuristic” look there is one of the things I like, and photographing at night really seems to bring it out.

      January 22, 2015 at 9:36 am

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