I’ll admit it… finding the time to write a blog in today’s ever fast-paced, busy world isn’t easy; but I also love teaching and sharing my passion for photography, so I’ll strive to make time! So, welcome to what I hope becomes my weekly blog.
This first installment is about travelling to take photographs. It is not about going to some remote destination and finding shots (that post will come later), but rather travelling across your own city to make photographs.
I live in Seattle. It’s a rich, vibrant, culturally diverse city; and a tourist destination. It is easy to be dismissive of the so-called “tourist traps,” or iconic spots. But knowing when to photograph them, to get clean photographs is the key. So today I’ll share a little local knowledge with you regarding one such location; Kerry Park.
Kerry Park sits about half way up Queen Anne hill, and has an amazing view of the Seattle Center, the waterfront and Seattle Wheel, and Mt. Rainier. To get there, you’ll need to make your way to Queen Anne Avenue and head either up, or down the hill, depending on your route of travel. Then, turn left on Highland Drive if going up the hill, right, if going down. About two long blocks later, you’ll see the park on your right. Queen Anne hill has very stately homes around there area, but you can still find ample free parking if you get there early.
Which then begs the question; “What time would that be?” Both sunrise and sunsets can both produce rewarding images. Personally, I love the early morning there, about an hour prior to sunrise, to get the “blue light;” that period of time when the sky turns a rich, cobalt blue, before sun up. The lights of the Space Needle, and the buildings are fully illuminated, which, against the blue backdrop of the sky, makes for a very pleasing image. And while on the subject time, there’s a seasonal decision to be made as well. A photographic axiom is: bad weather makes for good photographs. I’ve gotten really dramatic images following a storm, so keep your eyes on a weather app, and look for days following a big projected storm, and then head to the park. As the light shifts in the early morning from the cobalt blue to sunrise, the sun will bounce off the clearing storm clouds and “light up.” Fall and spring are best for this type of shot. Keep your eyes on any northbound jets departing SeaTac, as these will produce long white lines in a long exposure. Easy enough to remove in Photoshop or Lightroom, but also easy enough to time your shots between the jets too.
Of course sunsets can be very pleasing as well. Again, weather can be a factor you can put to good use. Mt. Rainier will often have lenticular (lens shaped) clouds that will appear over the top of it. This usually indicates that rain will occur within twenty four to forty eight hours. However, these clouds will also light up as the sunsets, and Mt. Rainier will take on the color as well. As the sun sets, you’ll also get a nice balance between the artificial lights of the city, and the natural light.
Using a polarizing filter on your camera works well here, as you’re essentially 90 degrees to the sun, at either sunrise, or sunset; where the filter’s sweet spot is. It’s a little harder to see the effect before the sun comes up, but if your camera has Live View, and you’re in that mode, you’ll see the image get darker as you rotate the filter. The darker is gets, the more the effect is being applied.
I hope if you’re a native Seattleite, or just visiting our town, you’ll make your way to Kerry Park for this iconic shot.