My assignment was simple. Photograph the Tacoma Museum of Glass.
It’s one of the most recognizable landmarks in the Pacific Northwest. Hundreds of thousands of photos of this beautiful structure already exist. My job was to approach the same old thing and NOT shoot it in the same old way.
So what to do?
I decided early on to avoid including the fountain. Everyone includes the fountain. And while beautiful, I wanted to include something that made more of a statement about the region. Pierce County, Washington is home to Tacoma and quite a bit of rural farming land. It’s also very tied to water and industry. It’s not nearly as sexy or cosmopolitan as Seattle. On the other hand, it’s a modern city with as many museums inside the city limits as there are in some entire states. It’s more progressive than most people realize, and I wanted to balance it’s forward-thinking side with it’s traditional rural and industrial side.
My approach was based on shooting the main “hot shop,” the dome that is, from several different angles, using several different focal lengths.
I also knew that I was going to uncharacteristically rely on some cool post-processing tricks to make my images stand out.
I started with a simple shot that included part of the Hot Shop and a relatively new steel cable bridge. This showed the connection between the transportation, water and the museum.
My next two shots were made with the Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8 lens, standing at the base of the cone. I previsualized these shots as being metalic, showing off the progressive nature of the area. I planned to solarize these pictures and shot them accordingly. Using a combination of Nik Silver Efex Pro and Nik Color Efex Pro, I got the results I was looking for. The fourth shot was also given the same treatment but taken from the other side, using the 24-70 f/2.8 for a different perspective.
The fifth shot was my first attempt at bringing old and new together, along with the notion that there is a great deal of rural land within the city of Tacoma. I juxtaposed a more than hundred-year-old mill (now a converted condo on the waterfront) with some grasses and the cone. I like the story, but it wasn’t quite as dramatic as it needed to be.
So then I got the sixth shot and the one that was selected to go to publication. It’s a simpler composition, blurring the cone in the background and focusing on the grass. Everyone liked it, and I managed to shoot the most photographed landmark in Tacoma in a new way.
Whether or not you agree with my approach, the goal of this post was to get you thinking about how you can shoot an old, familiar subject, in brand new ways.
NOTE: This is our 500th post in 2008!
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