Seattle's Space Needle from Kerry Park
David Barnes

Seattle at Its Best: Great Images and How to Take Them

By David Barnes
With its bold architecture and majestic natural beauty, Seattle is a photographer’s paradise. Photographer David Barnes has traveled the world but still says that few places can compete with his native city.

Using images from his new ebook, Seattle Through Your Lens: A Practical Guide to Photographing Seattle, Barnes combines not-to-be-missed locations with tips on how to take great travel photo—starting with Seattle’s icon, the Space Needle.

Kerry Park is, perhaps, the most visited and photographed place in Seattle, and it provides this fantastic view of the tower. Because of this, it gets busy, so if you want to shoot the sunset, make sure you get there early enough to get a good spot.

Seattle Through Your Lens: A Practical Guide to Photographing Seattle is available on iTunes—click here.
Pike Place Public Market, Seattle
David Barnes
Pike Place Public Market
The secondmost photographed place in Seattle is the Public Market. It’s shocking to think the business community once tried to tear it down. Fortunately, a Seattle architect led the charge to save it and now it is the liveliest part of the city. In photos like this, where the light is fading, use a relatively high shutter speed to keep everything sharp.
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The View from the Aurora Bridge, Seattle
David Barnes
The View from the Aurora Bridge
Seattle has many bridges that make for great images—both as subjects and as platforms. This photo is taken from the Aurora Bridge looking down on the Fremont Bridge and Ship Canal. The Fremont Bridge is one of the most active drawbridges in the United States. To catch the sun this far north, come near the summer solstice in June. Season is a crucial consideration if you’re looking to get extraordinary photos.
Gas Works Park, Seattle
David Barnes
Gas Works Park
Seattle has many parks, but Gas Works is one of the most famous because of its great location on Lake Union and the structures that give it its name. To get the works and the sailboat framed well in the shot, a long lens is necessary.
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Akio Takamori sculpture, South Lake Union, Seattle
David Barnes
South Lake Union
Seattle is experiencing growing pains. Corporate towers are going up and a traffic tunnel is going in, causing some confusion on the roads. South Lake Union may not have the natural beauty that can be found in so many of Seattle’s neighborhoods, but the bustle actually makes it a splendid source of material for photographers. In this photo we see some of the public art that has been installed on the modern landscape.

This sculpture by Akio Takamori is beautiful on its own, but by looking for ways to use lighting and shadows to create patterns and by being aware of the ever-changing flow of people, a photographer can add depth and interest. Keep in mind that there’s more to a photo than the main subject.
Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle
David Barnes
Olympic Sculpture Park
Here, art collides with the waterfront and Seattle industry, allowing photographers to capture the pulse of the city. Get close to a subject to give it character. This is a typewriter eraser—an object few people under a certain age recognize nowadays.
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The Great Wheel & The Seattle Waterfront
David Barnes
The Great Wheel & The Seattle Waterfront
The waterfront used to be fascinating because of all the industry, but now it has become a tourist attraction. Recently, this colorful Ferris wheel was added to the skyline. Barnes stood above the street on the pedestrian passageway connecting to Pier 66 in early April to capture this. Both a tripod and a telephoto lens will help you take a similar photo.
Golden Gardens, Ballard, Seattle
David Barnes
Golden Gardens, Ballard
Seattle’s beaches may not be as common or as warm as California’s, but they do exist. Golden Gardens is a great addition to a tour, especially in the summer. On this mid-August day, there was plenty of summertime activity to photograph, with Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains creating a beautiful backdrop. To avoid lens flare when the sun is strong, use a lens hood.
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International District & The Smith Tower, Seattle
David Barnes
International District & The Smith Tower
The International District/Chinatown has a character that is unlike anywhere else in the city. The Smith Tower, which is technically located in Pioneer Square, was built in 1914 and was once the tallest building west of the Mississippi. Explore the whole of the I.D., but if you’re looking for this specific view, go to 5th Ave South and South King Street.
West Seattle
David Barnes
West Seattle
West Seattle is separated from the rest of the city but it’s well worth a visit. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to access from the waterfront. Take a water taxi from the south side of Colman Dock. After a trip of only a few minutes, you can stroll along the West Seattle waterfront and shoot to your heart’s content. This photo shows a ship anchored in Elliott Bay during a not-infrequent squall. Seattle can be quite rainy, but don’t be afraid of that; it can make for some atmospheric photos.
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Seattle Skyline from the Jose P. Rizal Bridge
David Barnes
Seattle Skyline from the Jose P. Rizal Bridge
This view sums Seattle up: a modern city situated in one of America’s most picturesque landscapes. Here you see Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains at sunset in the summer. To get sunset shots like this, it’s best to use a tripod. Also, if you use a high dynamic range (HDR on digital cameras), you can grossly improve backlit sunset photographs like this one.

Seattle Through Your Lens: A Practical Guide to Photographing Seattle is available at iTunes.
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