United States Seattle

50 spots Public

T. Kirkendall and V. Spring

Seattle is built on hills and divided by rivers, a bay, a ship canal and lakes. Its uniqueness lies in its amazingly scenic location along the shores of Elliott Bay with the island studded Puget Sound to the west and Lake Washington to the East. Beyond the Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains catch the first rays of morning light and the Cascade Mountains, dominated by the massive glacier-covered Mt Rainier, catch the last rays of light at sunset.

Photographing Seattle is a combination of cityscapes with mountains in the background and eye catching architecture. In the recent years, the city has undergone a massive remodel and renewal. As most of the suitable land for building in this very hilly landscape has been developed, smaller buildings are being replaced with sky scraping towers. In 2017, Seattle boasted the largest number of working cranes of any city in the United States. The number was a whopping 62, about 10 more than the next contender. It is therefore expected that some PhotoShop work will be required for any skyline image of Seattle. In the evenings, many of the cranes are lit with colorful lights, making them, almost, an interesting addition to any image. In 2019, the Alaskan Way Viaduct, which runs along the waterfront is scheduled to be removed. The demolition of the two story, elevated, roadway is guaranteed to make a temporary mess, cause massive traffic tangles and change the entire look of the westside of the city.

Parks and outside locations are all tripod friendly. The use of tripods indoors usually brings the building security who will murmur vague words about terrorist threats and 9/11. However, tripod restrictions do not mean that you can not take pictures. Simply, grab your smartphone or set your camera for a high ISO and you will not be hassled. (Photo restrictions are enforced in some museums. When photographing in the city a PC (perspective correction), lens may rapidly become your best friend. If you don't have one, remember to leave plenty of room at the top and bottom of image so that you can correct the odd angles without losing something important when you straighten the buildings.

Seattle is blessed with a maritime climate, which means, with occasional exceptions, the summers are not too hot and the winters are not too cold. The downside of the climate is the rain and endless cloudy days. Winter is a great time to visit, although there is a very short 8 hours of daylight. However, evening views over Elliott Bay from West Seattle are excellent. Spring brings a profusion of colored flowers, starting with the daffodils in late March, tulips in early April and it just gets better from there. Summer weather usually starts in early July and lasts through August or September. Seattle is not known for its fall colors, although some may be found. The rain usually comes back in full force by November. Snow in the city is rare, happening any time from late November through February.

This guide covers the highlights of the sprawling and fast growing city of Seattle. It does not cover the areas outside the city limits, (Snoqualmie Falls to the east, Mt Rainier and Mount St. Helens to the south or the Skagit Valley area to the north. The Puget Sound region is beautiful, but that area is covered in a separate SNAPP Guide.

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