With new visitors staying, we were back at the Chihuly Museum in Seattle. Since I had photographed there a few times already, I thought I would take in a different lens and just use that to try and get something different to that which I had shot before. I took the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens with me. First, the big aperture would be good in the dim conditions. Second, that wide aperture would allow me to play with some shallow depth of field (the longer reach of the lens helping to enhance that effect) and lastly, that longer focal length would mean I could experiment with tight crops or longer views across galleries.
I have had a recent post about blowing glass from the hot shop at Tacoma. Prior to that visit, though, we made a trip to the Chihuly Museum in Seattle. Out in the garden, they have a small hot shop set up based around an Airstream trailer. They were demonstrating some glass blowing techniques to the visitors and I wandered around looking to get some shots. It was already pretty dark by the time we were watching so it was a bit tricky getting some shots. Moreover, the intense contrast between the glow from the ovens and the dim external lighting made things harder to balance. I just played around to see what I could get.
The hot shop at the Tacoma Glass Museum proved to be a lot of fun. We went in there as soon as we arrived because we had been watching them at work on a monitor while we were in line to buy our tickets. We also knew they would have a break later in our visit so wanted to make sure we saw the work underway. The shop is laid out to provide a lot of options for the visitors.
There is a seating gallery area built up at the back of the studio so people can sit and watch what is going on. A camera operator moves around the shop providing close up shots of the work which are shown on monitors to give a more detailed view of the work. Meanwhile, a guy was providing commentary on what was happening and answering questions from the crowd. There was also a walkway that went above and behind the work space so it was possible to look down on exactly what they were doing from quite close in.
The team were working on a candelabra in glass which appeared to be a new idea that they had. They got quite well through the work when it shattered. They went back to the beginning and edited the design the second time around. The simplified some elements and reinforced others and this time everything worked out well. We were fascinated by the whole thing and watched them all the way to completion of the work. Even if the rest of the museum hadn’t been there, this would have been worthwhile for a visit on its own.
This previous post included many shots from a visit to the Chihuly Museum in Seattle. In that post I mentioned how it closed around the time it was getting dark and that a return trip during the winter would be in order. With my mum visiting at Christmas, that’s exactly what we did. We timed our visit to be later in the day so we would be there once the sun set.
The transition from light to dark brought a lot of options in the gardens. Not everything was illuminated so some elements were okay while there was some light remaining but then were gone while others were only gently illuminated and only really showed the effects well once dark was fully upon us. The view back to the museum was also interesting as it changed and I did go back inside often to see how the move from external to internal lighting affected the glass works on display in there. Hopefully these shots give you a sense of how things look as darkness descends.
I do like to experiment with alternative printing options and, when I heard an ad on the radio for FractureMe, a company that prints on glass, I was curious as to how it would look. I decided to make a print with them and to see how it came out. Their approach is pretty much how it sounds. A print is created on glass with a what backing sheet to provide the base and that is it. Nothing tricky about preparing the files so I uploaded an eclipse shot I had and placed the order. I did this just before Christmas and the lead time was three weeks, probably as a result of a bunch of holiday orders.
I sort of forgot about it for a while. When I got the shipping notification, I was quite excited until I realized it would be a week for the package to make its way across the country. When it did arrive, I was quite impressed with the way it had been packed. The image was recessed into a cardboard mount that was supported by a thick sheet of corrugated card. All of this was wrapped together and then slotted into mounts on the edge of a far larger box. It was stable and well away from potential dings. It arrived in great shape along with a mounting screw for the wall.
The image looks great. The eclipse shot is not a standard type of image so I haven’t tested color reproduction with this but it does look nice and the darkness of the shot seems to work with the glass well. The first thing I had to do was clean it. It seemed to have acquired a lot of dust – presumably in the packaging phase. Now it is time to find a spot to keep it long term. For now it is sitting on the mantelpiece.
For the longest time I wasn’t interested in visiting the Chihuly Museum in Seattle. I had seen some glass installations outdoors and the rather bright and garish look of them put me off the idea of seeing the collection. It just didn’t look like my thing. Then, when we had visitors that were interested in going, a trip was inevitable. I have to admit, I was very wrong. What I had seen a glimpse off was in no way representative of the collection as a whole and I was most impressed by what I saw.
First, there was a lot of variety in the art. Some of it was more to my taste than others which is only to be expected. However, all of it was interesting. The layout of the exhibits gave you plenty of space to enjoy them and, while the place was popular, I rarely felt overcrowded. Much of the work was much more subtle than I had anticipated and the forms and coloring were most impressive. Other parts were a bit more dramatic but still very cool.
While much of the work was indoors, there was a selection outside and these were nicely integrated into the gardens. The blend of the colors and the reflections of the surrounding structures in the surfaces were interesting for some while others were just interesting shapes. The potential of lighting them is something that was apparent but closing time was around sundown, so we only got a hint of the illumination. We shall return in winter to see how the lighting looks.
With some visitors in town recently, I made another trip up the Space Needle. They have finally finished to refurbishment of the area at the top of the tower and it is a pretty cool job that they have done. The glazing around the balcony area is finished as is the floor area inside. There is also now a stairwell to take you down to the next level. This has been refurbished to create a glass floor for a ring around the whole floor. This glass floor rotates. I imagine this is where the restaurant was when the Space Needle first opened. It gradually cranks around and it gives you a fantastic view downwards.
Apparently there will be a refurbished restaurant next year which, I assume, will be in the section a third of the way up the tower (since I can’t see where else it would go). The new floor is really cool though. Having been up a couple of times recently, I thought I wouldn’t have much new to see, but the addition of this element really gave me lots of new things to look at.
After our lunch in Tacoma, we took a quick stroll around the area before heading home. There is a glass museum which looks like something that will be a source for another day trip. To get to the museum, we walked across a bridge of glass. There were glass sculptures at one end of the bridge and, on the bridge itself, there was a roof structure that incorporated multiple glass pieces.
Mounting the glass in the roof meant that light could be let in from above and the glass was illuminated from behind. As the daylight was drawing to a close, this meant that some nice soft light was filtering through the colors giving a great effect. We were spot on with our timing. When we walked back, the light was gone.
Located on Mare Island, St Peter’s Chapel was a non-denominational chapel to support the naval facility. It is no longer an active chapel but it is available for use for ceremonies. The structure looks pretty small from the outside but it is surprising how many people it can accommodate without trouble. The wooden structure is very different to everything else on the facility and it looks quite rustic. Many panels inside the chapel reflect the naval history of Mare Island and, particularly, the submarine forces.
The striking feature of the chapel is the stained glass windows. Many of them were made by Tiffany and they are considered very valuable. An exact value is not given but, since they cannot be replaced, you could argue they are priceless. Not all of the windows are from Tiffany but most are and some include a signature which makes them even rarer. The windows survived relatively unscathed in the recent earthquake that hit the area so the team is making sure that they are left alone as much as possible to avoid causing more harm than good.
Some of my travels take me to Oakland. There, I visit a building called the Rotunda. It is a quite striking building internally and I have grabbed a number of shots of it and played with 360 panoramas as well. However, this time I was just focused on looking straight up. Too often we put things in the context of our viewpoint so we see the areas leading up to the roof. This time I just looked straight up and cut out everything on the sides. Consequently, I found my eye did not wander but homed in on the glass roof itself. It really is very cool.