This post features recent photographs in Seattle taken on my iPhone 7 Plus with the usual gear I carry in addition to some work from my last trip. All photos on this blog are my own unless otherwise noted.
Travel and the Trip
While Portland is my home city; Seattle’s towering space needle, glass gardens, art museums and the famous market with flying fish hold many happy childhood memories for me. I have been to Seattle at least 30 times as a Pacific Northwest Native and it is only a short 3 hour road trip away.
As a teenager it was a popular trip to make on a long weekend when we had nothing better to do than sit on the waterfront, ride the ferris wheel and generally run around laughing at nothing too specific.
This past week I had a conference for work in Seattle and found myself dreading the drive for numerous reasons. Traffic, the fact that I was not in a car full of friends with the aroma of coffee and sounds of inside jokes, and that it was for well… work.
I decided to do something I only faintly remember from when I was very young: take the train from Portland to Seattle. I then I arranged to meet a few friends while I was up there in between my conferences and break out sessions. I am so grateful I did.
The train was delightful and I highly recommend it to anyone. Seriously, no stress, no traffic, and you can just bring your carry on with you. Look up ahead of time which side to sit on for the views of the river.
While I was slightly worried about navigating the city without a car (since this is how I had made all of my other trips), it was actually simple and stress free. Plus no parking!! The train station in Seattle was only 2 miles from my hotel and I opted for an Lyft ride to get settled in. You can also take the tram most places in Seattle.
Arranged to meet with a friend within walking distance of the hotel and managed to trek the city by foot all 4 days of the conference.
The food and company were of course superb and lets not forget about the views. I stayed away from the touristy stuff this time and enjoyed other portions of the city. So the images of those things were from past trips to Seattle.
Composing and Contrast: Photo Tips
Photographing in Seattle always brings a stark contrast to what I normally shoot. Composing in nature is my tendency and comfort zone. I can easily frame the bend of a river or edges of a cliff. The forest is living and takes calm flowing breaths to surround me. The curves and turns in nature easily find their way into a well composed image for me since this is where I spend most of my time.
When in the city I have to switch my focus. It is busy and thriving. Breathing heavily from the weight of buildings and cement. I am often looking in linear directions and considering thousands of objects.
I enjoy using my Fish eye lens when shooting in the city and tend to turn many images black and white. I feel this leads to a classic look. I find I am even less drawn towards photographing people in the city and instead choose to focus on the architecture. That which is not alive.
Tips and things to look for when shooting in the city:
- Reflections in the skyscrapers and windows
- Balance in your images (this is important when so much is happening)
- Shoot in Portrait orientation occasionally to allow for the city to look as tall as it needs to.
- Look up (Always)
- Edit and turn Black and White for a classic look
- Go into building and look down or out of the windows
- Focus on architecture and the character of the city- if it is gray let it be gray
- Pay attention to the edges of the frame- do not have weird things flying out of the edges
- Use the creative architecture to inspire you
- Make them your own- avoid the skyline images and touristy shots everyone else has- create your own work.
Recommendations and a To Do List
These are some links to get you started on your own trip planning if you are thinking Seattle is calling your name.
- Easy to Navigate
- Comfortable Travel
- Photo ops
- No Stress of Traffic or Driving
- Depending on where you are coming from the tickets can be more expensive
- Comfortable Stay
- CLEAN Rooms
- Great free breakfast
- Walking distance to major attractions
- If you use Chase Points they work here!
- No free Breakfast at this one (rare for a Hyatt)
- It is a Hotel and not a hostel so a bit more spendy
- Views are not great for photos unless you pay the extra $$$$$
- ALL of it is good.
- Try to food carts – especially La Creperie
- Palomino was fresh and delish
- Juicy Cafe is a healthy on the go lunch option
- Starbucks on EVERY corner
- Pike’s Market has the best donuts
- Dinner is expensive in the city
- Harder to find a grocery store
Don’t forget to check out Trip Advisors Top 10 things to do list before visiting any city. So far these have never steered me wrong. Maybe even do this for your own city to get some great shots of things you normally don’t think about.
My recommendations for this city are the following:
- Pike’s Street Market
- Space Needle
- Chihuly Glass Museum
- Sculpture Park
- Seattle Art Museum
- Original Starbucks
- Ferris Wheel (only if it is nice out)
- Scavenger hunt for the Troll under the bridge
You will get some fantastic shots and be so inspired by the architecture and life of the thriving city of Seattle. Of course, let me know how it goes.