The National Parks Traveler has published my January photography article. Click on the photo to check it out.
The National Parks Traveler has just published my latest “Photography In The National Parks” article. Click on the photo to go to my story.
If you read my previous post, then you know I spent my Christmas holiday in eastern Washington. This post photographically details the wedding I photographed in Tacoma, on December 28, while still in Washington.
I took the photographic equivalent of the kitchen sink with me:
Let’s see….did I forget anything here? Probably.
My brother-in-law was the officiator for the wedding, so on December 27, my sister, bro-in-law, and I piled ourselves and our stuff into their SUV and headed west over Snoqualmie Pass in fog, snow, slush, and rain to Tacoma.
Our hotel was the Silver Cloud Inn, Tacoma Waterfront, with great views of Commencement Bay. I was mightily impressed with the hotel and would stay there again in a heartbeat (this reminds me that I need to write a review of the hotel in Trip Advisor, to add to the other reviews I have written over the past couple of years).
The view of Commencement Bay and the full moon from my hotel window.
Sunrise on Commencement Bay the day of the wedding.
The wedding was held at Weyerhaeuser Mansion, in the Old Town portion of Tacoma, atop a hill overlooking Commencement Bay.
Had the bride and groom not been so entranced looking at each other, this is the view they would have seen from where they stood during the ceremony.
Prior to the wedding, Juliana dressed up in this adorable little movie-starlet outfit and with Andrew, welcomed guests to the mansion.
Andrew getting ready. I’m not sure how it happened, but his suit had been left back at their home, some 30 minutes and one ferry ride away. Luckily, the suit arrived and the wedding started on time.
Wedding M&M’s with the date and their names printed on them.
Red suede shoes worn under the wedding gown.
Whenever you are photographing an event such as a wedding, you need to remember to capture images of the little things – the accessories, the decorations, the food/drink served. These help flesh out the event and add atmosphere.
After Juliana was all dressed in her bridal ensemble, I asked her to stand next to the window so I could capture a portrait of her with the side light, which is one of my favorite lighting techniques.
I took some of the photos and duplicated them, then used different special effects either directly from Photoshop CS6, or as one of the presets in OnOne’s Perfect Effects 4 plug in.
Juliana took my breath away as she stood at the top of the staircase, waiting for me to get my photos of her before she headed down to where her father awaited to escort her out to the groom and officiator. Her gown and hat matched the character of the mansion and she truly looked like the Lady of The Manor. In this photo, as well as a number of others, I made use of the vignette effect to focus the eye more on the subject.
Another preset from OnOne’s Perfect Effects 4.
Andrew’s look as he first beheld his bride walking toward him.
As I was earlier scoping out the mansion for possible photo ops for the bride & groom, I noticed this little room down the hallway from the changing room on the third floor of the building. The room’s balcony looked directly over the wedding ceremony site. So, after getting some ground-level images, I RAN up the three steep flights of stairs to get to the balcony so I could capture some overhead photos. Then, I RAN back down the three flights and managed to arrive just as the bride and groom were kissing.
After the kiss, there was a moment of laughter as the groom came away with lovely red lips of his own; the bride’s lipstick color was very bright indeed. I noticed later on a couple of male relatives with red lip marks on their cheeks.
Introducing Team HOCO (made up of the first two letters each of Juliana’s and Andrew’s last names).
And then it was on to the bride & groom photos, the reception, the toasts, and the cake cutting.
At the gazebo, Andrew turned to Juliana and told her he wanted to sweep her off her feet. I told him to go right ahead so I could get a photo of it.
Julian wanted a photo taken without the long black cape she was wearing. It was a bit “nippy” outside and you can tell in this image. Good thing she had Andrew’s warm arms around her.
A cake topper made by one of Juliana’s friends. I’m told she and Andrew first met at Petco.
I’m thinking about doing this same “posterized” special effect to copies of a number of other photos, and then creating a little comic book/graphic novel for Andrew and Juliana. I think any bride that wears red suede shoes with her wedding gown would appreciate something like that – don’t you?
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Photographer’s Note: I used every single one of those lenses at one point in time during the trip, but the three lenses I used most at the wedding were the 16-35mm for the wide-angle shots, and the 50mm prime and the 24-70mm zoom. I can’t say enough wonderful things about these lenses. Canon makes awesome glass in the form of their L-lenses.
While I used the flash occasionally, both with and without the Lastolite softbox, the majority of my images were taken without the flash (I don’t really like using flash much, to be honest, although I know flash has its place and is quite necessary in some instances). Instead, for my interior low-light images, I increased the ISO, and then used a noiseware reduction plug-in with CS6.
If you would like to see more photos from the wedding, please take a moment and go over to my Facebook Photography Page. And if you like what you see there, then please, feel free to Like me and follow me on my continuing photographic journeys.
The last time I visited the Skagit Valley tulip fields was back in 2005. And I left in a huff after capturing some really cool photos because I (and a number of other people, photographers and non-), were yelled at by what I assume was the foreman of the tulip pickers. We’d parked before they opened and our bodies were in the way of the pickers (they weren’t, I’m here to tell you). We all understood the deal and that obnoxious cretin didn’t have to yell – all he had to do was simply ask us to please move our cars because the parking area was not yet open. That would have done it and none of us (read: me) would have been bent out of shape. I vowed never to return and I wrote a letter of complaint to the organizers of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. There was no sign, no nuthin’ telling us the area was not open. And apparently none of the tulip field owners or the tulip festival organizers were photographers, else they would have known that sunrise and sunset shots of the fields are the best, so there should be at least one field allowing people (who might buy their bulbs or their cut tulip bouquets) to come and set up their tripods.
Fast forward to 2012. I decided – now that I understood most parking areas were not going to be open at sunrise-thirty AM – this year would be a good time to break my promise never to return, and actually go back to the tulip fields.
Although I try to have no expectations, I guess for the tulip fields, I had way too many. I do admit to being tired on the day of my arrival, having driven a little over 3 hours from Mt. Rainier National Park up to the Mt. Vernon area (about 60-70 miles north of Seattle). I did capture some really nice images (I think). But….well….it just wasn’t what I thought it would be. When I lived in Seattle some 17 years ago, I remember there being more than just 3 fields, which is the number of tulip fields I found that day of my arrival (Ok, I didn’t look too hard, I’m sure there must have been more). Only one of those fields was open and available to the public: Tulip Town.
Quite the little enterprise, is Tulip Town. For $5, you can park your car, enter and walk through a huge tent full of cut tulip bouquets, a couple of food stalls, a couple of art gallery-type stalls, a few tables and chairs, and then find yourself out among a couple of small tulip fields. Although walking between the rows was prohibited, people were allowed to get as close as possible to the flowers. They even had a tractor trailer to ferry people around (for a fee, I believe).
It’s been a very cool spring up there (ironic, since it’s been an exceedingly warm spring here in SE Texas), so the majority of the tulips were not in bloom or only just beginning to open up.
The red and yellow tulips were in full bloom, so I have a lot of red and yellow tulip photos.
The day was sort of ho-hum, but I could discern a little bit of detail in the uniformly-spread cloud cover, so with my Lightroom 4 gradient tool, I managed to get that slight detail/drama to show through in some shots.
For these images, I used a 70-200mm lens and my trusty 24-105mm lens (for the close ups). I don’t have a macro (next on my “to buy” list) at this point in time, so no really close close ups.
I left satisfied with my image captures. No dramatic sunrise or sunset with the mountains and foothills in the background. No barns surrounded by tulips. That was ok, though. I got photos of my favorite flowers and I was content.
I’ve been pretty darned prolific with the posts, I readily admit. Probably because next weekend I doubt I will have a chance to post anything at all. I’m photographing a wedding on the 29th and so will be readying myself and my cameras for that awesome event. Hence, the reason for my prolific-ness (is that even a word??)
After publishing an earlier post about my Seattle 2012 stay, I found some more photos I took during that first wonderful afternoon gazing out my hotel window onto the ever-changing scenery of Elliott Bay.
So, here they are.
My previous post was getting a little long – not so much with words as with images. So I knew I needed to break my visit to Seattle into two separate posts.
I am not a lazy person at all, but I must tell you that most of the photos you see of the waterfront in both the previous post and this post, were taken from my hotel room window! I managed to stay in the comfort of my own room, complete with bed, desk, TV, and fridge – and look out the window to capture some wonderful, quintessentially-Seattle images. All I had to do was aim my 70-200mm lens (handheld) either straight ahead, to the right, or to the left (sometimes hanging out of the sill a little bit).
As I mentioned in my previous post, the view window of my room was such that I could open it up and literally drop a line and fish out of it if I wished! No screen and only a very short railing protecting me from the elements. The bellman told me that on occasion, they still had to drag people out of the bay because they’d fallen overboard…..usually, that incident involved alcohol. Big surprise.
Since I had just arrived in Washington the day prior, my body clock still operated on Texas time. Needless to say, I was up at about 3AM Seattle time (5AM according to my body clock – time to get up for work). So I dressed, made coffee (yes, I brought my own coffee and purchased real cream up at Pike Place Market Creamery the afternoon prior), opened the windows to let in the fresh, crisp, salt air, and sat down to my laptop to process photos. Occasionally, I would get up to look out the window. The scenes that greeted me that morning made me realize just how lucky I was to be there right at that moment.
At dark-thirty, when the ferries begin their day.
The blue hour, as the morning progressed.
The Mountain was out on that day.
A low bank of heavy, cottony clouds partially obscured the Olympic Mountains.
Clouds, Elliott Bay, the Olympic Mountains peeking out, and Shilshole Marina.
A quintessential Seattle day.
I’d decided earlier that morning to visit the Seattle Aquarium. I needed more practice taking fish photos and wanted to test my brand new lens. But first, I wanted to take a walk along the waterfront. For this day, I used my own Canon 5D Mark II and 24-105mm lens plus the rented Canon 5D Mark III and the 50mm f1.2 lens. I wanted that 50mm lens for aquarium shots because it’s a fast, sharp prime.
The Seattle Aquarium opens at 9:30AM. It costs $19 and some-odd cents for a ticket (why they just don’t make it an even $20, I don’t know). On this particular day (the Saturday before Easter), the place was jam-packed with kids and parents. Try battling that combo to get a particular photo.
The first sight to greet the visitor is this scene. The docent (just outside of this view) is chatting with the diver feeding the fish, educating and entertaining the audience at the same time. The really little kids are the most fun to watch.
From there, one passes on through various exhibits including a number of petting tanks, where kids (and grown-ups like moi) can touch the anemones and star fish. After touching wet, soft, squishy sealife, one looks up toward this very cool circular aquarium, a portion of which is hidden beneath the floor. They call that the Moon Jelly exhibit.
Next are the exhibits for the giant Pacific octopus, then a number of other fish that I can’t identify; and the frustrating thing about the gift shop is that it’s geared toward kids – I never saw a decent fish identification guide in the shop….oh well, that’s what Amazon.com is for.
Although I used a fast lens, I kept the ISO pretty high in order to allow for a relatively fast shutter speed to try and get a clear image of the fish, which are constantly on the move. I think I maybe used my 24-105mm lens once or twice. It’s not a fast lens, but I needed the wide angle view for a couple of shots.
After the aquarium visit, I realized I was tired and my shoulder hurt from the cameras and lenses (and souvenirs and food I’d purchased at the Market earlier that morning – no more hotel re$taurant for me).
I was not going to kill myself trying to do everything on this visit to Washington. I simply could not do it all and still enjoy the scene and the moment. So, I took my goodies, camera, and self back to the hotel to process images and photograph more wonderful Elliott Bay water scenes from my room window.
It was definitely a great day to be in Seattle
Note: If you have the opportunity to travel to Washington, by all means, stay in Seattle a night or two. And, if you can afford to splurge a little, stay either at the Inn At The Market (located smack dab in the midst of Pike Place Market), or at the Edgewater Hotel – and get a water view room. Both hotels have discounts during various times of the year. A discount based upon a reservation 7 days ahead of time with no refund was how I snagged my room. Worth every penny to me. Their restaurant is lovely, with wonderful views, outdoor dining, and awesome food. However, it’s on the pricey side. Thankfully there are a bunch of neat places to dine up in Pike Place Market, with prices ranging from $2 to $$$, depending upon your food budget. My room was clean and comfortable, which is all I really ever require of any room in which I stay. I don’t need many amenities, although an in-room fridge and coffee maker are nice (I actually packed a small 4-cup coffee maker and a package of ground coffee in my luggage, since I tend to wake up very early in the morning to review and edit my photos – during this WA trip, I took around 3000).
I love Seattle.
I lived there for about 10 years, and I try to make it back whenever I am visiting Washington. This April, I did exactly that during a 10-day vacation out there.
My first stop after landing at the Sea-Tac Airport was Seattle, where I stayed 2 nights at the Edgewater Hotel. I’ve always wanted to stay at this place, so this year, I decided to splurge and get a room with a view. I could have actually fished from that window, believe it or not, and I took some of my best photos standing right there.
There is so much to do in Seattle, and I never have time to do it all. If I only have a day or two, then I generally stick to the waterfront and Pike Place Market; my two favorite locations.
Seattle is full of public art.
Halfway up the hill climb from the waterfront, one of several Pike Place Market Pigs greets tourists and locals, alike. That red music note marks the spot where a busker may stand or sit while singing, dancing, playing a musical instrument, or otherwise officially entertaining passers by.
An alleyway to the side leading to Western Avenue.
Pike Place Market. Flowers, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, food stalls, fresh cheese, hand-crafted jewelry, toys, scarves, clothing, and many other items. Because there are so many photo ops at this place alone, it would be very easy to simply walk around with the camera almost permanently affixed to the eye.
Purple asparagus. I’d never seen that before until I visited the Market this year.
If I still lived in Seattle, I’d be cooking that purple asparagus, along with all sorts of other fresh veggies, and fresh salmon, as well. Ohhhhh, I do miss this place.
So these are what fresh garbanzo beans look like!
A cute vendor with gorgeous eyes who outrageously flattered me (yeah, I loved it).
After tiring myself out that first afternoon, I returned to my room with fresh fruits, chocolates, and a microbrew or two and settled down to working on photos while periodically looking out the window and capturing some of the awesome scenery. I stopped to splurge – again – for dinner at the hotel’s Six Seven Restaurant for some lobster mac and cheese, asparagus sauteed in butter, a Manny’s Pale Ale, and for dessert: crème brulee and coffee……don’t ask me how much I spent on dinner for one that evening……it’s vacation, ya know.
The view from my window changed with the wind; tug boats, container ships, state ferries, a heavy raincloud, puffy clouds that reminded me of cottonballs, golden sun-edged clouds, the snow-tinged tops of the Olympic Mountains peeking out from the clouds, and ultimately, the deep blue of dusk to be replaced by the black of night with reflections on the water of Seattle and Harbor Island.
Next: A Seattle morning from my hotel window and a visit to the Seattle Aquarium.