A movie favorite with my family is 10 Things I Hate About You. The movie supposedly takes place in Seattle. A previous trip to Seattle allowed me to visit the famous Fremont Troll which was used in that movie, but that was a trip without a rental car. So I only went there. The Gas Works Park is nearby to the Fremont Troll and was another location used in the aforementioned movie that featured Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles having a enjoyable paint ballon fight. It was good that I had time and a rental car on this trip to visit this location.
As it turns out, this is a location mentioned in the web blog Your Guide to Iconic Seattle Photo Spots. One of the compositions they mentioned in that blog was about this shot on top of Kite Hill with the cityscape in the background and Lake Union in-between. What is notable about this hill is there this inlaid sundial on top that I felt would make an interesting foreground feature in a composition that would place Lake Union in the middle and the Seattle skylight in the background.
This image was shot using my Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM. Though PhotoPills was planned with a 30mm focal length, I adjusted it to 29 mm after sunset. I knew going in that I wanted to do a long exposure to smooth out the water. I also new that I would need to do multi-exposures to handle the vast lighting difference. What I didn’t expect until I got there was that this is a popular location for people to come and sit on the side of the hill and watch the sunset and see the night skyline of Seattle. While it wouldn’t be so bad if they showed up and sat on the North slope of the hill below the crest of the hill, but there is a asphalt path on the South side of the hill that is the prime trail from the parking lot. So there is a constant procession of visitors walking into the hilltop often electing to stop on top of the hill, which of course interfered with my planned photograph. This was going to create a photographic challenge. I thought that by taking multiple photos I could use Photoshop’s Image Stack Mode to remove the people, so I took a lot of photos. It worked except for a few that really never moved. The remaining individuals whom were mostly stagnant would need to be removed using content aware fill, but with a complex background that the Seattle cityscape presents would require a background replacement. To solve that, I moved forward from the South top of Kite Hill to the North top and positioned the camera in front of the individuals lingering there. Here I took a series of long exposures capturing details of Lake Union and the cityscape from the different illumination ranges needed to render a well exposed image. I made a composite of those exposures, then added it as a layer to the Kite Hill sundial composition. To properly place the background layer I dropped the opacity to match the position of added layer to the primary layer background. I then masked out the foreground of the background layer and concluded by zeroing out the opacity of that layer, which built the image posted.
For this shot, I knew that I would incur dark tones with an illuminated cityscape that should of rendered in a Complementary color theory scheme. At least this is a common scheme associated with twilight shots that Jess Santos discussed in her B&H Optic presentation, Color Theory for Landscape Photography. The upload of the final product in Adobe Color sort of confirmed that. While this was great to find out, but for this image my primary effort centered on exposing the sundial without having to light paint or use a flash and properly expose the cityscape.