Thanks Seattle – The Story Behind The Photo (week 6)

I got back over the weekend from my Seattle Lightroom seminar and I thought I’d share a photo I took while there. First off, a big thanks to everyone who came out. Like always, I had a great crowd and met lots of people who follow the blog.

The Backstory and Why I Didn’t Want To Go Shoot
Okay… a little backstory here. I landed in Portland on Monday and shot sunrise and sunset all week. Throw work, emails, meetings, and lots of driving in there and by the time Friday evening came I was pretty tired. I had an early flight home Saturday morning (I knew I’d have to wake up at 4:45am to make it) so I planned on finishing my seminar and just relaxing in my room that evening.

I Had Never Really Seen Mt. Rainier
Now, all I know from Seattle is the weather the past 3 times I’ve been there and it’s been rainy and cloudy. I’m told it’s actually very nice there as well, but I must have bad timing. In fact, some one came up and told me that it’s Seattle secret to tell everyone that it rains a lot when it really doesn’t ;) Anyway, I’d been up to Kerry Park in Seattle several times trying to get a good sunset. Each time I’ve been there, you’d never even know Mt. Rainier was off in the distance because it was covered by clouds. But looking at the weather after my seminar, I could see it was going to be a nice clear sunset so I decided to grab my camera, tripod and give it a go. As soon as I parked my car, I knew it was gonna be good.

Here’s the photo (click to see it larger)

I Waited For A Specific Photo
I set up camp, took a few photos before the sun went down but waited for this one. See, there’s a really narrow window of a few minutes to get the shot I wanted. I wanted the lights on in the city. But I still wanted some color in the sky and some light on Mt. Rainier in the background. If you shoot to early, then you can’t see the lights on in the city even though Rainier is lit. If you shoot too late, then the sky is just a plain blue sky with no color and you lose all the light on Mt Rainier.

Nikon D800 Body
Nikon 28-300mm lens
Gitzo Traveler Tripod
• Really Right Stuff BH-41 ballhead

I also went back to the basics here. I found the D800 has such large files and such great detail, that if you don’t have an absolutely sharp photo you can’t really appreciate it (and you can notice the lack of sharpness more). So I was locked down on the tripod, turned on mirror-lock in camera, and used the built-in camera timer (set at 2 seconds) because I forgot my cable release :)

Post Processing
Not much here. Some white balance adjustment in Lightroom to warm the photo just a bit. Added a vignette, and some dodging and burning in Photoshop to brighten up some of the lights in the skyline. All totalled I think I spent about 5 minutes on it.

What was even cooler is that I ended up meeting a couple people up there who follow the blog. I turned out that one of them was even at the seminar earlier that day, so I had some shooting buddies. Enjoy!

  • Dennis Zito

    Absolutely Gorgeous photograph, Matt! You can always sleep on the Plane … Right? Thanks for the Tip waiting on the lighting! We are head to the UP in Michigan and I’m hoping to get a few sunset and sunrises on the lakes. Also, looking forward to some autumn photos! Heading up there on the 16th of September for a couple of weeks. Any photo suggestions are always appreciated!

    Again, fantastic capture!


  • Stephen Probert

    I also learned from David Hobby that these shots are even better in the winter because the sun sets while people are still at the office, so there are more lights on. Great shot! Love Seattle. As my wife says, living there (I used to) is like being married to a beautiful woman who has a cold 9 months of the year.

  • Mike Bowen

    Matt, that’s a really nice shot of the city and Mt. Rainier. I’m glad the weather was nice. I really enjoyed your class and learned a lot. I especially appreciated the insight about Elements. I’m hoping it has the same ACR version as LR 4.

    During the class you showed off a few pictures from your trip in Oregon. Any chance you could share one or two of them here? I especially liked one of the waterfall pictures you took.

    (BTW, I have the same problem tethering my camera to LR some times, so I wasn’t surprised when it gave you trouble.)

  • johnathanlyman

    I love that perspective of Seattle. I’m planning on heading up there this weekend for an HDR pano sunset shoot. Quite stoked! :D

  • Alton Marsh

    Terrific and very encouraging to the rest of us.

  • Jeff

    Matt, that is a great photo. How did you meter for the shot? I really enjoyed your class in Houston.