This afternoon we decided to go out for the day and headed over to North Seattle to Ballard Locks.  The locks link Lake Union (that also goes to Lake Washington), with Elliott Bay and ultimately the Pacific.  The locks are pretty busy and open and close daily multiple times.  If you want to ride through a lock there’s an Argosy cruise that takes you from Elliott Bay to Lake Union and they you get a bus back to Seattle’s water front.  We did the cruise a few years ago and it’s pretty cool.

But today we were their on the dock side watching the boats go through.  When we got there the main large lock (there are two one massive one and one small one) was empty.  They were just lowering the water level to let boats enter from Lake Union.  The first boat to come along was this massive tug boat called the Western Titan.  The bridge in Ballard had to raise to let the tug boat through (I got a great picture of that as well) and then moored up in the lock ready for the water to rise.

However being first is bad, as it takes around an hour to fill the lock up and raise the water level, so the guys on the boat got comfortable and sat back to wait.  In the interim they had to put up with loads of people with cameras taking their picture.  In the image below you can see the Western Titan at the front and a load of smaller boats in the lock behind.  This lock is HUGE and can hold a lot of vessels, it would have been nice to see them rise up and sail out but Abi was cold so we left before the rear lock gate closed.

These locks are really cool and definitely worth a visit Ballard also seems like a nice place to live – loads of bars and restaurants and trendy shops (Lisa liked it anyway).  They have some botanical gardens there too (photographed them as well) and a fish ladder for Salmon who want to swim up river to spawn.  But more about that in a future posting.

After visiting Ballard Locks we went to Red Mill Burgers across the road and Carter and Master Chief fell in love – with a Double Bacon Cheese Berger.

Sometimes to get ideas of what to shoot I’ll look on the internet.  Putting in the name of a city or region can display images and views you’ve never noticed.  I guess this could be construed as cheating, but I’m not looking to totally plagiarize an image, I’m just looking for locations and things to shoot.

Anyway, I had to go to work today and I was looking for something I could shoot tomorrow.  So I put “Seattle” into Bing and loads of really nice images popped up.  A few times the image of the coffee cup outside Post Alley appeared.  It would seem that this neon cup is kind of a Seattle iconic image.  Anyway I looked at the pictures and thought “I’m sure I captured that”.  So when I got home I looked in my back-log and sure enough I have the picture.

Obviously Seattle is famous for it’s coffee, it is after all that city the gave birth to Starbucks.  So this large neon coffee cup at the entrance of Post Alley in Pike Place Market represents Seattle quite well.

When I took this it was pretty dark and the market was deserted.  This was a long exposure and the dark sky came out blue.  I think the blue sky and neon sign look really cool together.  Anyway I hope you like the image.

The guys wanted to climb something today, so I pointed them to this – well it’s kind of a glass fake flower display thingy – and up they went!

I got home from work tonight and the sun was starting to go down so I thought I’d walk to the end of the road and see if I could get a picture of the water catchment area in our neighborhood.  I don’t go there very often (I should really as Roxie our dog loves running around the trails by the water) but I thought the low sun might make a nice image.

So I grabbed the camera (and Roxie) and Abi and I set off to see what we could shoot.  I should point out here that the other reason we don’t go there is because Lisa doesn’t like frogs.  Those of you who know here know that she can’t even say the word, she call’s them Ya-ya’s.  So we never visit the trails and water.  But as Lisa wasn’t coming with us off we went.

We actually picked a good time to go as the sun was shining on the trees and shrubs and it was really pretty.  The water reflected the tree line and the moon was even out behind one of the trees at the top.  I grabbed a couple of shots and we walked around the pond.  It’s a good job Lisa wasn’t there as there were Ya-ya’s everywhere.

The image I would have liked to capture really needed a wider angle lens, but mine’s in the shop so until that comes back I had to stand back a bit further to get a shot I liked.  The reflection of the trees in the water made this picture and the greens and yellows looked great.

For some reason tonight the guys decided to cook come spaghetti, getting it out of the pot though was a bit of a challenge.

So once again I took my camera out at lunch and went for a walk.  I had no idea what I was looking for but I needed a picture for tonight’s posting.  I didn’t take the car so this really was a photo-walk and I should point out I work on Microsoft’s west campus, so it’s pretty much all office buildings and gardens.

We have a few (really) nice cafeteria’s (they’re full on restaurants really I guess) and I thought maybe I could photograph some food.  But in truth I didn’t really want to walk into a restaurant and pull out my camera and have a hundred people stare at me.

Outside the restaurants were groups of people sitting around at tables having lunch and again I thought of a street photography type of shot, imagine the outside of a small bistro in a city.  But again I didn’t think that would go down well – some of those Microsofties can be a little difficult.

So it was back to the gardens.  There were a few flower beds, and a large number of grasses.  I tried photographing the grasses from inside the bushes but it looked terrible (well you gotta try).  Then I found these yellow flowers.  I thought they looked daisy-ish (again like yesterday’s purple flowers), but I looked up daisy’s on the internet and these aren’t daisy’s.

I took loads of pictures of these flowers, from all angles.  Because the petals were so yellow I found that pictures from above just came across as a sea of yellow.  I tried shooting the flowers from below so I had yellow petals against a blue sky, but the underside of the flowers just didn’t look that good so that didn’t work either.  In the end I found the composition below, one flower standing tall above the others against a green backdrop.

I really liked the shallow depth of field I got in this picture, the way some of the petals on the primary subject are out of focus and the center of the flower is sharp worked really well.  Hope you like it too.

Today the Halo dudes decided to volunteer at the local elementary school, I’m not sure what they plan to do but they seemed very excited.

I don’t know about you but I’m not really a fan of insect pictures.  Why is that I hear you ask?  Well firstly they are really hard to get, those little dudes don’t stand still and getting them in focus is a total bitch.  You stand there like an idiot, the “bug” moves to the right point and you focus, and he’s gone!  And there is nothing worse than an out of focus insect – horrible.

Then there is the subject matter, have you seen insects blown up big in a picture?  They are major disgusting, all hair and eyes <insert you own great joke here about hot girls walking into a Hell’s Angels bar…>.  Bottom line is there is nothing worse than an in focus insect – horrible.

So what the heck did I post my bee picture below for?

Well here’s the thing.  I don’t have any pictures in my back log that I like.  Work right now is very very busy – I can’t tell you why as it’s all top secret and I’d have to kill you etc., so when I do get some time off I’m too exhausted to actually go out with the camera.

So I had this idea.  If I walk around with my camera everywhere I go, I’m bound to see something interesting that I can shoot.  Guess what?  I don’t see anything!  Either all the fun stuff is happening around the corner or I live in the most boring city in North America (quite possible by the way).

Anyway (I’m starting to ramble), I walked over to one of our big cafeteria’s this afternoon to get some lunch and walked past these – I’m gonna call them flowers as there was no sign telling me what they are (they look daisy’ish to me), and I thought, ooooh purple flowers.  I grabbed the camera and started shooting.

Then along comes this bee and I go, ooooh bee, and start shooting that.  When I get back to my desk I looked at the images and I thought this one looked quite nice (for a dirty great big insect anyway).  The quite nice bit is the purple flower, the ooooh that’s the interesting bit is supposed to be the bee.

Trust me when I say this is a better picture than the 120 I have in my back log hence it gets posted tonight.  Hope you don’t get creeped out by the scary insect.

Master Chief’s sweet tooth got him in trouble today, and Cater wouldn’t help him out!