the blog of Seldom Seen Photography

Posts tagged “Seattle

Scenic Seattle now available for Pre-Sale

The Face of SuzzalloI’ve been too busy to write much lately, but I wanted to tell you that my book Scenic Seattle, Touring and Photographing the Emerald City is now available for pre-sale on Amazon. This is an updated and expanded version of the ebook I published in 2013. My publisher, Schiffer Publishing, sent me the a color layout draft of the book this week for markup. The main purpose of this draft is to make sure the photographs are placed in the correct places and have the correct captions, to make sure the previous edits from the text galleys were done correctly, and to start populating the index with page numbers. Then it’s back the publisher next Monday. They will send one more draft for a last check before being printed, and finally it will be available in June.

If you are interested in buying the book, you can pre-order on Amazon, or you might want to wait until the book is printed, after which I will be offering it for a special price on my blog. Stayed tuned for details!

The photo above is of the Suzzallo Library on the University of Washington campus in Seattle, just one of the many places described in the book. The photo, by the way, didn’t make the cut for the book.

 

 


Last Chance (sort of)

Clouds above SeattleSome of you may know that a couple of years ago I published an ebook about photographing Seattle. The ebook, Scenic Seattle, the Best Spots – Best Shots Guide to Photographing the Emerald City, is available for ordering here on my blog. Well, this week is you last chance to get a copy, because next week I’m pulling it from sales both here and at all online retailers. So get a copy while you can!

Why Joe, you might ask, are you stopping sales of your book? I’m glad you asked. It’s because I recently signed a contract with Schiffer Publishing to do a revised, updated print edition of the book. My manuscript is due at the publisher at the end of this week. And with that, I am contracted to end sales of the ebook so as not to interfere with the marketing of the new book.

If you miss this last chance to get Scenic Seattle, you need only wait until next spring, when the print edition is due to come out. You may want to wait. The new edition will have more places, more information, and more photos. Better yet, get a copy of both!

To whet your appetite for the new edition, here are a few images that will be in the print edition but not the original ebook version. Want to see more? You will have to wait until spring 2016 (or buy the ebook this week!).

Pioneer Square Pergola

Coffee Silo

Wheel and Ferry

 

 


Rainier Vista

Rainier VistaI haven’t had much time to post lately, so I thought I’d throw something quick out there. One of the classic views on the University of Washington campus is of the Rainier Vista. The Rainier Vista consists of a view down between several university buildings, over the Drumheller Fountain (also known as frosh pond in my long ago days as a student), to Mount Rainier. If you are ever on the campus, this is a shot not to miss.

Perhaps the best time to shoot the Rainier Vista is at sunset, particularly if you want to have some of the classic university buildings in your composition as they are usually lit up at night. If you hit it just right, you can get alpenglow on the mountain balancing nice light on the buildings. I’ve never been that lucky.

But you can also make nice images in the afternoon as well. These were taken in mid-afternoon several weeks ago. A polarizer helps a lot to cut the haze in front of the mountain. Pick a telephoto lens to really draw the mountain into the frame, or a wide-angle lens to de-emphasize the mountain.

While at the university, check out the Graduate Reading Room in the Suzzallo Library as well.

Drumheller Fountain


Great View, Uncomfortable View

Lake Union, Rainier and SeattleI took the accompanying photograph last Sunday in Seattle. It is for a revised, updated version of my Scenic Seattle book that will soon be published in a print edition (scheduled for spring 2016). This is a view of Lake Union, a portion of downtown Seattle, and Mount Rainier from the Aurora Avenue Bridge (officially named the George Washington Memorial Bridge, though I have never heard anyone call it that).

Great view, but … The sidewalk is fairly narrow and separated from the traffic lanes by a short wall. The other side of the sidewalk is separated from the great void below by vertical cabling (the cables are there to prevent people jumping off the bridge to commit suicide. The bridge is nearly 170 feet, or50 meters, above the water). This gives the sidewalk a kind sided cage-like feel – with the roaring traffic in the cage with you. The speed limit on the bridge is 40 miles per hour (64 kph), but in my experience, if you drive 40 mph on it, you will get rammed from behind. I’d guess the average traffic speed is above 50 mph (80 kph). And there are six, narrow lanes of traffic. Not a comfortable place to shoot.

And to make matters worse, whenever you photograph along busy roads, there always seems to be at least one jerk (I’m being kind here; I want to use a word my Mother would not be proud of) who honks their horn while you are studiously looking through the viewfinder. I was on the bridge about 10 to 15 minutes Sunday and was surprised only one person honked. But that honk did nearly scare the pants off me. (So maybe it was a good think the cables were there so I didn’t jump.)

Further, those cables don’t make it easy to take a photograph. Typical DSLR lenses are small enough to stick through the cables, but only when pointed 90 degrees off the axis of the bridge. To take the shot shown above, you need to angle your camera at 30 to 45 degrees off the axis of the bridge. With my camera, that means physically forcing pushing the cables aside with the lens barrel. In some spots, it wasn’t possible. The cables were too tight. But I did find a spot with the gap between cables slightly larger and the cables a bit looser than average. With a bit of strength, I was able to turn the camera and force the cable apart enough to take the shot. With the cables pushing back, I had to use a fast shutter speed – which was probably needed anyway because the whole bridge shakes with the traffic (forget about using a tripod here).

I possibly could have wedged my camera completely through the cables and used the live view function to compose a shot. But with the long drop, I didn’t feel particularly good about that option either. But for shooting with a phone or a small camera, reaching past the cables is viable if you trust yourself to hang on.

Still interested in getting the shot? The access is rather easy. Park on Troll Avenue N between N 35th and 36th Streets near the Troll (the Fremont Troll statue is underneath the Aurora Bridge at the intersection of Troll Avenue and 36th). Take the stairs on the right side of the Troll up to the bridge and walk south until you reach the view you want. Just don’t expect to be too comfortable.


Iconic Photography

Pike Place Market1When traveling, unless you’re a more self-assured photographer than I, there’s a burning desire to capture that iconic shot. You know, the one image of a place that was great the first dozen times it was shot, but now is a cliché after being shot a million+ times. Still, it’s a cliché for a reason – it’s a great shot, and most of us want to have it in our portfolio. Sure it lacks creativity, but it’s such a great shot!

My normal advice is to get that clichéd shot out-of-the-way, then move on to try to capture the subject with a more creative eye: use ultra-wide angle, use telephoto, shoot details, shoot from different viewpoints, shoot in HDR, try different processing methods, etc. Put your own spin on it!. Of course, that is easier said than done when your subject has been shot a million times.

Well this story is a bit of a twist on my standard advice. Last week, Tanya, Nahla and I spent two nights in Seattle, staying a great bed and breakfast at the Pike Place Market (Pensione Nichols, dog friendly and highly recommended). This was not a photo trip, so while I brought my gear, I didn’t take a lot of images. I didn’t mind too much, I’ve shot at the Market several times before, and it was fun just hanging out in Seattle with Tanya and the dog without anything on the agenda. Besides, Nahla was the hit of the Market – strangers asked us probably 100 times if  they could take her picture.

However, even though I’ve shot at the Market before, I’ve never gotten the iconic shot – the neon Market sign at dusk. I’m sure you’ve seen it; if not just to a Google image search for “Pike Place Market Sign”. There are actually two signs, one with the clock set amongst the market buildings and the other with a fish with sky as background. And the classic time to shot the signs is at dusk, when the neon glows, but you still have good color in the sky.Pike Place Market

So, I did haul the camera and tripod out one of our two evenings there and captured my version of the clichéd icons. Then I put the camera away. I felt a bit guilty, taking only the icon shot; but I rationalized my choice because as an expert on Seattle travel photography (having literally written the book on the subject), I absolutely needed these images in my portfolio. Self justification? Perhaps, but also somewhat of a guilty pleasure (being original is hard after all!).

I’m sure I’ll be photographing up at Pike Place Market again before too long. After all, it is a top Seattle travel photography site. But now that I have my icon shots out-of-the-way, I will be able to try to get more creative next time. At least that is my hope.