Gasworks at Night, Seattle Washington

Gasworks at Night, Seattle Washington

This is another photo from Friday evening shooting out at Seattle's Gasworks Park and Aurora Bridge. Gasworks Park was once a facility that converted coal into gas for the city of Seattle and over the years has become a great park oasis in the middle of the city. I've seen a few photographs before and figured that this would be a great place to do a night shoot, particularly under a full (or nearly full) moon as it was this last weekend.

I did a full 360 degree walk around the main facility and settled on this view as one of my favorites, with Lake Union and the Seattle downtown skyline behind me. I shot fairly close to the old plant and didn't worry about the vertical convergence as I thought it helped give it a slihgtly exaggerated sense of scale.

Digitally I've done more manipulation to this photo than I typically do, mostly in the realm of curves and levels. The end result isn't dramatically different than the straight photo but altered in some important ways. First and foremost when shooting at night the white balance is always a bit of a wild card. Shooting as if it was lit by sunlight (what I would consider neutral and most representative of reality) the clouds and everything lit by the tungsten and sodium lights that are still so prominent give the clouds a significant orange cast. When the white balance is set to reduce that orange cast the sky becomes a deep deep blue color. Part of the reason I settled on the black and white conversion is that no matter what I found the color palette unattractive and 'unrealistic' and ultimately distracted from the shot. I settled on a white balance that was quite unnatural but that would provide the most detail and contrast for the black and white conversion, particularly in the upper right cloud which was nearly blown out to full white.

This scene was actually very brightly lit by 3 bright lamps just to the right of the camera, and consequently the foreground was actually the brightest part of the scene. I ended up adding a full black fill layer over the original image and used a gradient mask to apply it only to the bottom of the image, not unlike burning in part of the0 photo in the dark room. I next applied a curves adjustment to the clouds to pull out the bit of contrast that was there (not too much to work with) but not so much as to lose the tallest tower against a black sky. Next, I applied a levels adjustment that was masked to the center of the image to lighten the gasworks plant a little and help it stand out from the surroundings. Finally, I decided to clone out a construction crane (I think that's what it was) poking up above a hill at the bottom left.

If you've bothered to read this far, thanks! I hope you like it. If you'd like to see a more graphic illustration of the editing process you can see it here.

Nikon D90 | Nikon 18-200VR@18mm | f/8 | 30s | ISO200 | Tripod

Tyler Westcott Photography on Facebook