Blast Zone

Mount Saint Helens, WA
Mount Saint Helens, WA
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Proletariat

White Center, WA
White Center, WA

Just for fun, this is what the same spot looks like in Google Street View:

White Center Street ViewSorry, Tattoo & Piercing, you’ve been replaced by Coffee. Also, it looks like Google needs to store high-dynamic range versions of all the Street View imagery and then render it at 8-bits per channel based on the scene being viewed. This would still be a high contrast scene, but at least they could retain some cloud detail. It would be cool if Street View worked more like video games which adjust brightness based on where you are looking (i.e. in a tunnel, indoors vs outdoors, etc.). Get to work, Google!

Nighttime Dancing in Seattle

Just for grins, I brought my manual focus 50mm f/1.7 lens out for a walk in Seattle to get some practice manual focusing on my K-7. Manual focusing on a DSLR is a lot harder than on a film camera with a giant viewfinder and focusing aids (on an unrelated note, spending too much time around photographers puts you at high risk of contracting focusing aids. Beware). You can use live view and zoom in on the focal point, but that’s incredibly klunky.  With practice, I got fairly good at focusing using the viewfinder. The K-7 is already on the small side (however its viewfinder is one of the largest for APS-C cameras) for a DSLR and with the tiny 50mm it was just the right size. Doing without the grinding noise from the autofocus motor was nice too. With no pressure to get results, this was a fun combo.

I wandered around while the light was growing dim and I found some fun stuff going down at Westlake Center.  Some kind of dancing club was occupying the space and they even had live music.  I can’t imagine wanting to dance for fun, but taking pictures of it was fun.

The event attracted participants of all ages. Most of them seemed to switch partners after every song.  As someone with antisocial leanings, I felt like an alien observing and documenting the social behavior of another species.

 The event also attracted a homeless man who seemed a bit inebriated. He had a large bandage on his belly and dog tags around his neck. He fed off of the energy of the event and seemed to be enjoying himself.

A few more photos of the dancing:

After the dancing died down and the sun went down further, I explored a little while longer. Below is a picture of one of the Borders stores right before it closed for good.

Walking around with a camera is one of the best ways to connect with a place and best of all, it’s free. To finish off the set, I processed all the photos with a similar “look” and I’m pretty proud of the results. I’ve been shooting a lot lately, but it’s the uploading and blogging that I need to catch up on. I’m not too upset, though. It’s better than being the other way around.

Skeleton Alley

On my daily walks from work to the bus stop, I would frequently get a glimpse of the alley between 3rd and 2nd avenues and it looked like a treasure chest of fun photographic opportunities.  For months I was too scared to walk back there and I especially didn’t want to bring my big DSLR.  Then one day I sucked it up and brought my Canon S95 along on a journey to what turned out to be a very interesting place.  There were no people around, but I could see that there was a metal shop of some kind where I could hear people working.  A sweet metal skeleton was perched over the door to the metal shop and the light reflecting from the windows across from it was aimed just right.  Skeletons seemed to be a theme because there was a mural painted over one of the doors depicting skeletons on bicycles.  I hung out and took pictures for a few minutes, but I left when I got the stink-eye from someone poking their head out a door.  I’ve included my favorites from the day in the gallery below.

The barrel distortion on the S90 at the wide-end is pretty bad if you don’t use Canon’s raw converter.  I don’t use it because it’s a terrible piece of software just like all camera manufacturer’s raw converters, so I have to correct the distortion myself on the pictures where it shows up.  Since these were mostly architectural shots, the distortion was distracting so I felt the need to correct it.  Thankfully, Lightroom 3 includes distortion correction tools, so fixing the images was a snap compared to what I had to go through using Lightroom 2 and GIMP.