Thursday, October 17, 2013

Scenic in Seattle

By Andy Lopusnak,
October 11-14, 2013

With Seattle essentially being a home game for me (same time zone, short two-hour flight), I flew up to the Pacific Northwest Friday morning and stayed until Monday afternoon to get a lot of shots. I was in Seattle in Week 17 of 2001 for the Seahawks’ last game in the AFC before moving to the NFC in 2002. Since then, this is just my third trip to Seattle in the last 12 seasons (in December 2008 and November 2011). This is the earliest in the football season I’ve been to the Pacific Northwest. You can read my blog from the last time I was here BY CLICKING HERE. Also, don’t forget to check out my newly refreshed Seattle galleries BY CLICKING HERE.
Clouds are a photographer’s dream if they are fluffy and there’s still blue in the sky (so the sky doesn’t look just boring and blank). Seattle is seemingly always cloudy when I come here since it’s in the fall/early winter. Sadly, it’s mostly cloudy when I need it to be partly cloudy. It was either foggy or clear most of the time. Aside from a few hours on Saturday afternoon and during the game on Sunday, perfect cloud coverage was very elusive.

In my last Seattle trip, I focused on skyline shots and got a few oddities/landmarks like the Fremont Troll, the first Starbucks and Bruce Lee’s gravesite. I’m always going to go for the skyline shots since I own and went to the observation deck/levels of three different structures: the Space Needle, Smith Tower and Columbia Center (tallest building in Seattle). Additionally, I went to various points in the city to view the skyline like: Queen Anne’s Hill, Kobe Terrace, Gas Works Park, Hamilton Viewpoint Park, Belvedere Viewpoint and the Seattle Asian Art Museum. As for new landmarks and oddities, I snapped shots of the grave and a statue of Jimi Hendrix; the Chinatown Gate; the EMP Museum, the Chihuly Glass exhibit and toured the Mariners’ baseball stadium.
After landing, I drove 15 minutes from the airport to Greenwood Memorial Park in Renton to visit the grave of rock legend Jimi Hendrix. 
 In the Capitol Hill district of downtown Seattle, next to Blick Art Materials, is a statue of Hendrix on his knees playing the guitar.
In 2008, I went to the observation level of the Space Needle during the day. This time, I went right before sunset to get some “magic hour” views of Seattle from 605 feet above. 
When it was built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle was at the time the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. The sky was nearly clear and they let you bring up a tripod. However, the railings are very high and I ended up brace the tripod up against it.
The Sky View Observatory is 73 floors above the ground (902 feet high). Overall, the Columbia Center building is 76 floors high (932 feet) and was finished in 1985. It’s $12.50 to go to the Sky View, but the views are stunning and once you purchase a ticket its good until closing. 
I went up around 3 PM on Saturday after checking in at the TV trucks and then came back right before closing at 8 PM to get some night shots. Sadly, the windows aren’t made of non-reflective glass. This was very troublesome at night because the green neon EXIT signs are glaring. Luckily, there’s a few spots that I found without the green. The Columbia Center is the 22nd tallest building in the United States and ranks 113th in the world.
Built in 1914, the Smith Tower was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River (489-foot/38-story) until the Space Needle was built almost 50 years later. It’s $7.50 to go to the observation deck on the 35th floor.
New since I was here last is the Chihuly Garden & Glass permanent exhibit right by the Space Needle. I love me some Chihuly glass since it’s so colorful, unique and photogenic. 
You can check out my full galleries of times I’ve shot Chihuly exhibits: 2008 San Francisco, 2009 Phoenix and 2013 Seattle.  

This wasn’t here the last time I was in Seattle as it was completed in June of 2012. The 175-foot Ferris wheel not even close to a world record, which is currently held by the Singapore Flyer (541 foot), which was built in 2008. I didn’t go up because the gondolas are completely covered and am not sure I can get any usable shots shooting through the glass. 
$13 is a lot of money for something that just goes around in a circle. The view doesn’t seem to be stellar for that steep price. It’s no London Eye (443 foot) that provides amazing panoramic views. Anyway, I did create a gallery with shots of the Great Wheel that you can CLICK HERE to view.
In this Frank Gehry-designed structure is a museum dedicated to science fiction and music. It was created in 200 by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who is also the owner of the Seahawks. Originally, it was called the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum & Hall of Fame. 
The music side has a large exhibit of Seattle garage band Nirvana as well as a Jimi Hendrix London exhibit. Inside is the Sci-Fi Hall of Fame and lots of movie & TV props, including Captain Kirk’s chair from the original Star Trek, the Cowardly Lion costume from the Wizard of Oz, the head of the Terminator and other memorabilia. 

Disgusting and amazing. The photos don’t give it justice. It is a few steps from the Pike Place Market, where the first Starbucks is located. CLICK HERE to view more shots. The photos don’t give you the true scale of how thick this wall of gum is.

I’ve photographed the Mariners’ stadium from the outside and with me coming up here early, I decided to do the Safeco Field tour to get some wide-shot interiors. I really wish these tours would just offer an option to go to the top of the stadium and get some shots instead of a nearly two hour tour.
Without QB Jake Locker, the Titans just weren’t the same since the last time I covered them in Week Four. Ryan Fitzpatrick just isn’t that good. He tossed two picks and Tennessee was only in the game because of a Seattle special teams snafu on a field goal attempt that the Titans returned for a touchdown.
Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch posted his seventh career multi-touchdown game and set a career high for receiving yards and longest reception. QB Russell Wilson still hasn’t lost at home in his two-year career (won 11 straight home contests) after 257 via the air and 61 yards on the ground.
This was overall my fifth time in Seattle (third at the Seahawks’ new stadium). In those games, the Seahawks are now 4-1. The lone loss coming in 2008 when New England came-from-behind to win 24-21. I wish the Seahawks didn’t switch from the AFC to the NFC. Seattle made the move because the NFL expanded to Houston making the league 32 teams. The AFC had 17 teams because they put Houston in the AFC, so a team needed to move into the NFC. Sadly, Seattle was the obvious choice because the NFC only had two teams west of the Mississippi (San Francisco & Arizona). 
Actor Will Ferrell was at the Seahawks game and I snapped the shot below of him. Not only that, but when I was at the EMP Museum, there’s a sign that says, “Needs more cowbell.”
Last time here, I set up a time lapse in the end zone (CLICK HERE TO VIEW). It was a very overcast weekend in November of 2011 and by the end of the game it was dark; so this time I did another time lapse in the end zone as well as ones from the two different corner shots and another from the sideline. Here's a combination look at three of the different views. All four can be seen on my YouTube page, as well as the world's largest sports time lapse collection (

UP NEXT: New England at NY Jets
This will be my third Patriots game this year and sadly still haven’t got one of their home games since 2009 (it’s one of the elusive six venues I haven’t done a time lapse at yet). I’m getting into NYC Friday morning and plan on getting shots of two presidential grave sites (Teddy Roosevelt and Ulysses S. Grant) to add to my collection as well as visit the 9/11 Memorial since the Freedom Tower is now complete.

Here’s a collection of my top shots from Seattle.

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