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Photography Travel

The 10 Best Seattle Activities for Your Vacation

Pike Place Market

Tracy and I operate a tour business in Seattle called Shutter Tours, and we are in the city most everyday sharing Seattle with our customers. We always ask for feedback on what are customers have seen and enjoyed within the city, so I thought I would compile a list of activities you don’t want to miss on your visit to Seattle based on feedback from our customers.

Snoqualmie Falls and City Tour

Snoqualmie Falls with Rainbow

Of course, I think our Snoqualmie Falls and City Tour is one of the best tours in the city and so do almost 600 people on Trip Advisor who gave us 5-star reviews. The tour starts at the Pike Place Market at 10 AM, just late enough where you can grab some breakfast at Biscuit Bitch and a cup of coffee at the original Starbucks. About 45 minutes later we arrive at Snoqualmie Falls, which drops 268 feet to the bottom, over 100 feet higher than Niagara Falls. This is an impressive sight and summer, or winter trips here are equally spectacular. The one other thing that makes our tour a lot of fun is we give our customers simple photo tips on composition and will also take your photos in case you forgot your selfie stick.

Other stops on tour include the infamous Fremont Troll seen in the movie “Ten Things I Hate About You” and the Hiram Chittenden Locks, where you may see migrating salmon during the summertime as they navigate the fish ladder. During the springtime, the locks are homes to the nesting Great Blue Herons, with over 50 nests each year as they raise their young.  We often see Sea Lions and Harbor Seals getting a free meal of salmon during the summertime in addition to many boats going through the locks. An engineering wonder that opened up in 1916 is the busiest lock system in the world based on the number of boats that go through it.

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A Day in Seattle

Gasworks Park Seattle

Seattle Kerry Park with Mt. Rainier

There is probably no better view than Kerry park in Seattle. It’s not often Mt. Rainier will be out and on this particular day it was picture perfect.

Seattle Locks with Kayaks

Hiram Chittenden Locks are always busy on nice sunny days and this day was no different. With boaters and kayakers each sharing the lock to get into Lake Union.
Seattle Center FountainThe fountain at the Seattle Center is always a great place to people watch. This shot was edited with Alien Skin Exposure 6 with color saturation muted and cool.
Seattle Space NeedleBack in the film days I used to use a star filter to create this effect of the starburst at the Space Needle. I’m sure there is a way to do this in Photoshop, but I shot this at f/22 to achieve the effect in camera.

Deadliest Catch Wizard in Seattle

At Fisherman’s Terminal in Seattle, I was lucky enough to see the Wizard of Deadliest Catch fame, pulling out of the dock. I was surprised how much bigger the boat was than I expected.

Gasworks Park in Seattle with Kites

I waited to set this shot up at Gasworks Park as I wanted someone walking the pathway in addition to the kite flyers. The other thing I have learned throughout the years is to have a leading line start from the very corner of the frame as this pathway does in the lower right.

Seattle Gasworks Park Pano

A Panoramic view of Gasworks Park in Seattle with Lake Union and the Space Needle in the Background.

South Lake UnionThis is looking south at the southern end of Lake Union. The buildings in the background is where the world headquarters for is located.


Sequim Lavender Weekend

Sequim Washington Lavender

For the past three years I have been bringing guests to the Lavender Weekend in Sequim (I can’t say festival due to copyright owners of the SLF getting upset for using that description on a website). Every year it is such a great place to go and enjoy the outdoors and the wonderful city of Sequim. The real treat this year was the ferry ride back with Mt. Rainier in its full glory.
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Autumn in the Skagit Valley

Barn in the fall

Springtime in the Skagit Valley gets all the credit for being the best time of year due to the Tulip Festival. But Fall brings more Snow Geese than tourists and the Autumn colors can light up the valley and allow the children to run to Schuh Farms and grab a pumpkin or two.


Snow Geese in Skagit Val;ley

Never caught a Snow Geese in mid-flight like this. Now I know why they fly in formation




Tagged Snow Goose on Fir Island

For tracking purposes the Snow Geese are often tagged. Recently satellite tracking has been added and these birds can be back to their breeding grounds in Siberia in about a week.


Schuh Farms in Mt. Vernon Washington

Snow Geese with clouds in background

Snow Geese coming in from Wrangle Island

Hundreds of Snow Geese work they way into the Skagit Valley as them come from Wrangle Island off of Siberia. Over the winter there are between 80-100,000 Snow Geese who make the valley their home.

Hunter on Fir Island

This hunter had winged a Snow Goose and was then shooting toward the parking lot of the nature reserve with only a small hill between the parking lot and the other people watching the geese.

Crowd of Photographers at Fir Island in Skagit County


A Photo Journey to Edison, Washington

Edison Washington Saloon

Edison, WA

Tucked into the northern part of the Skagit Valley is a small town named after a famous inventor, Thomas Edison. One morning in January we took a trip to the Skagit Valley to check on the Snowgeese population, but instead were surprised by something else all together, the largest population of American Bald Eagles we had ever seen. We lost count after 40 Eagles and every tall tree and field we came across, Eagles were everywhere in the valley.


The tree above, we saw 16 Bald Eagles, most of which were juveniles as their heads had not turned the majestic white color that we are all familiar with.

Edison, WA

This tree was just west of the bridge that has an old sunken wood boat, listing to the side in a slough, with houseboats located along the shores.

Edison, WA


The boat is easily photographed from the bridge on Bayview Edison Road, just to the west of Edison. Parking is to the East of the bridge, though as the sign says above, the driveway is a private road.

Edison, WA

Edison has just a few buildings, but these all have such great character that we had to stop and check out the photo opportunities. My favorite building was probably the Longhorn Saloon above. Who hasn’t heard this name used in old Westerns, but here was right in little ole Skagit Valley. We didn’t stop for food, but web descriptions range from “A Cajun seafood stew to die for and the prettiest waitresses in the Valley” to “ I had to go home and drink liquid Drano to get the grease off the walls of my insides. Place is good for a beer and tiny hot wings.”

Edison, WA

Next up we checked out the “BreadFarm Bakery“, we had heard about this place before and this bakery rivals any top bakery in Washington. Even rates up there with one of our favorite bakeries at the Pike Place Market, La Panier. They are an artisan bakery and  ”Using old fashioned techniques, our loaves are natural leavened to ensure moistness and flavor.  You will find our bread to be light in texture and full of the best ingredients.” They endorse sustainable agricultural practices, and shun products full of  harmful chemicals and pesticides and no additives or preservatives are used in their bread. The bakery alone is worthy the drive out there.

Edison, WA

The town is very small, so we spent about 20 minutes getting our additional photos and were surprised to see a quote by Edward R. Murrow on the side of a building. Seems he grew up in Edison and was immortalized on the side of a store.

Edison, WA

Edison is almost a one horse town with a population of 133 and 52 households and was once the center of a socialistic “Equality Colony”, The Brotherhood of the Co-operative Commonwealth. Founded in Edison in 1897, the colony was meant to serve as a model which would convert the rest of Washington and later the entire United States to socialism.

Edison, WA

The colony flourished for a few years, building two large apartments, a barn, a dining room and kitchen, a school house, a public hall, a store room, a printing office, a saw mill, a root house, a blacksmith and copper shop, an apiary, a bakery, a cereal and coffee house, and a milk house. But by 1903 only less than 100 diehards remained as many of the members moved to found a new community on Whidbey Island called the Free Land Association, or Freeland, Washington.

Edison, WA

Next we just took whatever road felt of interest and with many curves and waterways, there were many times to stop to get photos of more Eagles and the multitude of Great Blue Heron that seem to be everywhere.

Edison, WA

Samish Island is close by and one of our favorite places to stop is Blau Oyster, where you can pick up a sack of fresh oysters to take home. These are some of the best oysters you will find anywhere. Just take Bayview Edison Road, until it meets Samish Island Road and follow the signs to Blau Oyster.

Edison, WA

Technical info on these images: Shot with a Fuji X-E1 mirrorless camera in B&W mode and  post processing done with Alien Skin Exposure 3 B&W plugin, Daguerreotype – Faded mode in Photoshop. 

Don’t forget to book a tour with my Seattle Tour company Shutter Tours.


Fall Colors

Fall Colors

I spend most everyday in the Seattle Japanese Gardens as I take customers there on our tour of Seattle. The colors have been unbelievable this year.. Enjoy!

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Japanese Gardens

Japanese Gardens

Japanese Gardens

My Tour bus.. the Shutter Bus

My Tour bus.. the Shutter Bus


North Cascades

Diablo Lake

A few times this year I was able to make it to Hwy 20 in Washington State, also known as the North Cascades Highway. This highway is rich with photographic opportunities and I hope to make one last trip up there for the fall colors before the highway closes. Continue Reading