5 Photos I Like IV: Seattle Public Library

The Seattle Public Library is probably my favorite building in Seattle.  The designers went all out on the inside and the outside.  If you are ever in Seattle, I highly recommend a visit (best of all, it’s free!).  The library is a sort-of tourist attraction, so you won’t look too out of place if you whip out your camera.  For today’s edition of “5 Photos I Like”, I’m only including photos of the Seattle Public Library.

Before beginning, I’m curious what you think about the following comment which was posted under one of these photos:

IT SEEMS AS THOUGH MANY OF YOU ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH THIS BUILDING. THE COMPOSITIONS AND COLORS YOU ALL ARE THRILLED ABOUT ARE NOT DONE BY SOME FRUITLESS FILTER IN PHOTOSHOP. THESE ARE ALL CREATED, INTENTIONALLY BY THE ARCHITECT. THERE ARE NO LIGHTING TRICKS, AND THE SKY ON THAT DAY DIDNT HAPPEN TO BE GREEN, BLUE OR RED.
IN FACT ANYONE WITH TWO SENSE ABOUT PHOTOGRAOPHY CAN TAKE THESE PHOTOS, GIVEN THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT. LET US GIVE CREDIT TO THE ARCHITECT WHO HAS BESTOWED UPON US SUCH GREAT ARCHITECTURE AND YOU WITH SPECTACULAR IMAGERY. I IMPLORE YOU TO VISIT THE WEBSITE AND ENLIGHTEN YOURSELVES.
AND YES I AM AN ARCHITECT. – London Brigs (Flickr Name)

Ignoring the all-caps typing and the ignorance of photography, what do you think about his argument?  Architectural photography is a thing and I hope my previous post gave some examples of the many ways a single scene can be interpreted by just one photographer.  I’ve also written about photographing art, but I think photographing architecture is a long way from even being a gray area in terms of ethics.  I hope the photos I’m sharing here will convince people that not just anyone with “two sense about photograophy” can take great photos, even in a location as interesting as the Seattle Public Library.  Of course the architect deserves credit for designing a beautiful building that we photographers can enjoy as our playground.  Credit goes to the photographer, however, for producing a worthwhile image.

The Mixing Chamber
The Mixing Chamber, by Victor Szalvay

This is the shot that inspired me to make this post.  Victor took this photo in a library, but it wouldn’t look out of place in a science fiction film.  The architect did a good job of exposing for the highlights and boosting the contrast so that the people’s faces would be lost in shadow.  Oops, maybe the photographer had something to do with that.

Seattle Public Library
Seattle Public Library, by Jeff Maurone

There are a few shots on Flickr taken from this vantage point, but I thought this one was particularly well-executed.  The little girl playing on the reading-bench-thing is a fantastic detail.

ventilated geometry
Ventilated Geometry, by Victor Szalvay

Here’s another shot from Victor, who likes the blues.  The directions of the ventilation vents make them look like creatures who are curious about the strange blue world they’ve found themselves in.

IMG_3432a
IMG_3432a, by Cassidy Curtis

This portion of the library is eerie to walk around in.  I think this shot captures that feeling pretty well, and the exit sign is a nice touch, too.  Cassidy nailed the exposure here as well.

And Dream Up Some Dreams
And Dream Up Some Dreams, by Thomas Hawk

The first four pictures I chose use color as a significant part of the composition.  However, the bright colors of the library can be distracting for certain photos, so Thomas chose to go with black and white.  A potentially cluttered image like this benefits from the focal point of the walking man and the strong geometrical order.

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6 thoughts on “5 Photos I Like IV: Seattle Public Library

  1. The architecture as well as the photography is brilliant. I wonder if London Brigs feels the photographer is getting too much credit for taking the photo when the real art is the subject? Who knows. But I do know, with the half sense of photography that I do have, not anyone can go snapping willy nilly and do the architecture justice. I also think the sentiment would be more well received had he two sense about caps lock. And for the life of me I can’t find the fruitless filter in Photoshop!

    1. Aleeya,

      The fruitless filter is a plug-in and you have to pay extra for it. I used it on a picture of my house and the fruitless filter made it look like the Taj Mahal.

      Isn’t it funny how immediately the caps-lock key can derail an argument?

      Thanks for reading.

  2. Hi Bryan!
    I’ve been following your blog for months and the truth is it really inspire me. I did tend to comment for you at the first time but too bad my English is not good and I’m not feeling confident to leave any comment on your page. Tonight after seeing these amazing pictures, I decided to give myself a try.
    I don’t know hot to start but I hope you would not mind to hear my story. First impression to me is Seattle such most attractive city in USA, this also is one of my reason I decided to buy a camera – Canon Rebel to discover every little spot around my neighbor hood. I’ve just started to get used to with camera recently, and I feel ashamed every time look at your pictures. I’m curious about how to get better skill day by day, and maybe I’m going to Seattle public library this weekend to practice. I hope you wouldn’t mind if there are any recommend about ISO, f , and shutter speed should I use like the pictures above ?
    Hmm I really like reading your blog, I hope you will keep it up to inspire more people love photograph like me.
    I guess I should stop now and I wish you have a great night with family

    1. Mimi,

      Thanks a lot for reading and for the kind words. Congratulations on buying a camera and starting to learn about photography. As long as you practice taking pictures a lot, you’ll get better every day no matter what. For the technical skills (ISO, f/#, shutter speed, etc.) you can search the web for “photography exposure basics” or something similar or you can buy a book.

      The best way to practice using the technical skills is to start in auto mode and slowly move away from it. After auto, try “P” mode, where you can change the ISO and the camera will set everything else. Then, move on to “Av” mode where you can pick the aperture and the ISO. When you’re comfortable with those, you can try “M” mode. There’s nothing wrong with letting your camera help with exposure, as long as you understand what it’s doing and what you want out of the scene. I almost always stay in “Av” mode unless I’m using an all-manual film camera.

      To find the settings used for photographs on flickr, you can click on the camera name next to a photo where it says “This photo was taken on July 11, 2008 in Capitol One, Seattle, WA, US, using a Canon EOS 5D.” You can do that if you want to see the exact settings for the photos in this post. If you’re a complete beginner, try using “P” mode and setting the ISO to “Auto” and then you can focus on composing the photos the way you’d like. If you want to pick your ISO, you’ll probably have to be at at least 800 or higher for the dim light in the library.

      I hope some of this info helps you. Good luck with your photography and don’t get discouraged. Thanks again for reading.

  3. Thanks Bryan, I really appreciate the information you gave me above. Even though school make me dump among the stresses, I’m trying to take photograph as much as I could. I think Flickr is the best site for photograph but I’m not getting used to it like other professional photographers are using. I’m wondering if you are using Flickr or just only wordpress blog. This might be useful for me to take a look at your pictures on Flickr, even though as I knew, people can’t save any pictures from that page.

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