Manny Photo Ideas: Downtown Seattle

Seattle is very scenic with it’s downtown core and the beautiful surrounding nature.  I recently spent a few days downtown Seattle and would like to share some of my favorite photography spots.  I should mention that I have been somewhat lucky with the Pacific North West spring weather as I managed to stay out of the rain for the most part!  Some spots I visited would be great for sunset or night photographs but unfortunately the rain made it impossible for me.  In any case I will give you destinations with visual reference.  Here are my favorite spots.

Dr. Jose Rival Park

This Park gives you a great view of the Seattle Downtown core.  You can access the area by bus route 36.  Take the bus 36 from 3rd Ave. and get off at 14th and Judkins St.  Once you are there, walk next to the top of the edge of the hill and you’ll have a great view.  After you take some shots walk down to the bridge.  There is a spacious sidewalk where you could setup with your tripod.  Be aware that the bridge moves a little with traffic.

Smith Tower Observatory

This historical building was Seattle’s first skyscraper.  You can buy a $17 US pass which includes a self guided tour of the tower and access to the 35th floor bar and observatory.  From there you can enjoy food and prohibition inspired drinks.  Then you can go outside and take photos from the balcony.  There are safety bars, but they are spacious enough to fit a DSLR lens through.  The bar and the observatory is open until midnight on most nights.  The museum closes at 1800.  I would recommend bringing a wide angle, 11-16/10-20mm as you are close and at lower level than the other skyscrapers around.  I would definitely recommend coming back at night time.

Sky View Observatory

This is the highest point where you can photograph Seattle from land.  The Sky View Observatory is currently Seattle’s highest building and for $14.75 US you have access to the 73th floor.  There isn’t much to the viewing area at the moment when you get up there but the views are astonishing.  You will find yourself above everything!  It is a perfect place to capture the Seattle downtown and beyond in the same shot.  Depending on the season, it closes at 1600 or 2000, so you need to be there at the right time to capture a sunset photo.  It was closed too early for me to get a sunset photo but I can only imagine what type of shots I could capture from up there.  I captured several good close ups of some interesting buildings with my 24-70mm and lots of great all around shots with my 11-16mm.

The Public Market

The market is super busy during day time.  There is lots to explore in and around from food, the very first Starbucks, craft breweries and more.  This is a great place to stop for a snack and snap a few shots.  Things quiet down around 1700 and it becomes a great area to explore and take photos of the neon signs or the Seattle Great Wheel at Pier 57 which is just a few steps away.  Also make sure to take a look at the famous gum wall…  I would recommend walking around with your camera and a tripod.

Walk Around 5th and 6th


There are some very interesting buildings downtown worth photographing.  The Amazon area on 6th has the Spheres and make sure to photograph the Public Library as well.

Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum


Now I am not a big museum photographer but when it is pouring rain outside…  In all fairness this is an amazing display of art.  I am glad I spent the $24 US because every penny was worth it.  You can take photos of the exhibition as long as you don’t touch anything.  The light is perfect and the black glossy surfaces make every images amazing.  I am glad I took images just so I can look at the Chihuly blowing glass art later on!


Kerry Park

I don’t have any images to show you as the weather didn’t cooperate and my stay was too short.  I saw some great images online of the downtown core that includes the Space Needle and Mount Baker.  This is a must see place if you have decent weather.  You can access the park on bus 13 from downtown on 3rd and Bell Street, and get off at Queen Anne Ave. N And Highland Drive.

Space Needle

The Space Needle was under renovation during my stay.  I can only imagine that the view is great from up there.  Plus you can save money by purchasin a combined ticket for Chihuly and the Space Needle which works well because they are located next to each other.

The Final Word

I am sure that there are other amazing places to photograph on the outskirts of Seattle, I only just scratched the surface.  There are a numbers of ferry, boat, helicopter, and sea plane tours available.  All in all, it was a blast and I hope to explore for a longer period of time next time I visit.

Manny Photo Ideas: Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is located inland in northern Thailand.  It’s a very touristic city that has a lot to offer from adventure tours, a National Park, culinary courses, markets, culture, and beautiful temples.  You’ll find different parks and destinations to explore within a day’s range.  Here are some of my favorite destinations for photography.

Chiang Mai Old City Temples

There are many spectacular temples to visit in the old city.  You can walk around in any direction inside the old city walls and find a temple to visit.  Make sure to bring long pants and cover your shoulders so you don’t have to spend extra money to meet the proper dress code.  You should definitely visit the Wat Chedi Luang.  It’s the old temple known for it’s ruined chedi.

Chiang Mai Saturday Night and Sunday Market

The Saturday night market is south of the old city wall on Wua Lai road.  It covers several blocks and you’ll be able to find a wide range of things to buy including delicious food.  The Sunday market is situated in the middle of the old city and also covers a few blocks.  I recommend visiting at least one or both if you have time.  There is so much to look at and you’ll find some great deals on unique pieces of art.  I loved the food and enjoyed capturing the food stands and the market in general.

Trip to Chiang Rai. The Blue and White Temples and Baandam Museum.


I highly recommend booking a tour to go visit the beautiful Blue and White temples near Chiang Rai.  You don’t need to have a tour guide to visit them but booking a tour will bring you there early enough to beat the crowd.  The Blue temple, Wat Rong Suea Ten, distinguished by its vivid blue coloring & elaborate carvings is a small site and it’s an absolutely stunning building.  The visit doesn’t take long as there isn’t much else than the temple to photograph.  Be sure to go around and look at all of the great details.

The White Temple,  Wat Rong Khun, is a contemporary, unconventional, privately-owned art exhibit in the style of a Buddhist temple.  It is absolutely stunning and has lots to offer.  The sad part is that you are not allowed to take photos inside the temple.  There are murals with super heroes painted on the walls making this temple unique.  The rest of the site is also very interesting with the wishing well and wishing trees,  beautiful buildings, and super heroe’s heads hanging from some of the trees.

The Baandam Museum, also known as the Black House, is the former residence of the famous Thai artist Thawan Duchanee.  He liked black because all colours mixed create black.  So you guessed it, this is why every building is black.  Also, there are lots of great artifacts, furniture and carvings to photograph.  Make sure to take your time during your visit. A good tip is to ask how much time you’ll spend at each stop when booking tours.

Doi Inthanon National Park

Doi Inthanon National Park nicknamed “the roof of Thailand” is the tallest peak in the country.  There is a lot to visit including the King’s and Queen’s Pagodas near the summit, great waterfalls, the Karen village, and a varied climatic ecosystem.  Some of the villages are very interesting to visit and you can find some nice handmade scarfs or clothing to buy.  Make sure to take your time when visiting the park.  I booked a tour and was rushed at every stop.  Renting a car/bike or hiring a driver might be a better alternative.  Bring your tripod, telephoto and wide angle lens to the park.

The Elephant Nature Park

There is no better way to responsibly photograph elephants than visiting the Elephant Nature Park.  The park take elephants that were in the tourism industry, logging industry, or were abandoned and or wounded.  Each elephant is paired with a local Mahout, a worker that is assigned to a specific elephant and who remains with them for life in most cases.  I stayed over night at the park and was able to enjoy my time with these magnificent animals.  It was a feel good visit and I left with tons of very great photographs.  There is a number of these types of parks around Chiang Mai- just make sure to do your research before booking a tour to make sure they are truly about conservation and what is best for the animals.


The Final Word

Chiang Mai is a great city surrounded by mountains and rivers.  There is so much to do and for most of us, so little time.  I would suggest making Chiang Mai a hub for day or overnight trips.  It is an affordable place to stay and there is no shortage of tour companies.  You’ll want to take in some Thai cuisine lessons as well.  There is nothing like learning about the exotic ingredients and learning how to cook and get to eat some of the best Thai food you will ever have.  Chiang Mai is one of my favorite cities in the world and I will visit again one day for sure.


Manny Photo Ideas: Bangkok

Bangkok is a very vibrant and intimidating city.  It’s also very beautiful with the Grand Palace, many old temples, skyscrapers, a river, markets, and so much more.  There is lots to photograph and I’ll provide a few suggestions for places to visit depending on how many days you plan to spend in this city that never sleeps.

I’ll start by saying that I only spent 5 days in Bangkok during the rainy season.  The weather was good in the morning.  I usually had 4-6 hours of possible good weather before the heavy afternoon rain showers started.  At that point I had to hide inside my hotel room, a market, or restaurant for a few hours.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to shoot at night as I had other obligations.  I’ll pass on some ideas and notes that I took before I left.  Ok, let’s take a look at some sweet areas to photograph.

The Grand Palace and Wat Pho

The Grand Palace and Wat Pho have to be the busiest places I visited in Bangkok.  The Grand Palace was packed to the point that it was hard to move around the compound. Unfortunately you cannot use DSLR or any other type of cameras other than your phone.  It looked like they were enforcing this policy as well…  So if you can beat the crowd early in the morning and have a decent phone, you can probably photograph the Grand Palace in all of it’s glory.

Wat Pho on the other hand was a hundred times more pleasant.  I was allowed to take images with my Canon camera and there were way less people to dodge.  Wat Pho is a complex of beautiful temples and the home of the Reclining Buddha.  Take your time and enjoy this great place.

Be aware that there are some pick-pocketers around this area of town.  Be careful as you walk outside to and from the place.  I got told to hold my sling bag in front of me…

The Chao Phraya River and Other River System

The Chao Phraya River is the river surrounding the area near the Grand Palace.  There is a ferry system that will take you to a variety of great destinations.  Some of the stops includes the Grand Palace, China Town, and others on both side of the river.  The trip is photogenic in itself.  There are temples, old Thai buildings and many Thai boats to photograph.

There are a lot of other branching waterways to explore from the Chao Phraya but you will need to take another type of boat to get there.  Lots of people are trying to sell you a trip on the river or to the market.  Make sure to choose a good one and don’t settle on the first offer.  Keep in mind that some of the floating markets are only open on certain days of the week.  Be sure to photograph and try the delicious food!

www.manuelmartelphotography.comLumphini Park

The Lumphini Park is one of my favorite parks that I visited in the city.  It is easy to access by either the Silom MRT Sky Train Station or the Lumphini Metro Station.  It is a nice green park with a few trails and an artificial lake.  There are a number of monitor lizards to photograph.  It’s a great place to catch a few images of sky scrapers as well.

Benjakitti Park

Benjakitti Park is designed around an oval lake.  There are a few walking trails going around the lake with sitting areas along the way.  The great thing about this park is that it’s location is near the financial district.  The park closes at 2100, so it is a great destination for anyone looking to shoot sky scrapers at night.  I should also mention the birds, butterflies, and flowers as there are plenty to photograph.  The park is a close walking distance from the Sky Walk BTS and Asoke MRT.

The Multiple Over Passes

There is only one fast way to get around Bangkok and it’s by transiting either under or above ground.  The sky train and metro system are time savers and will bring you close to most destinations.  With that in mind, they designed overpasses for pedestrians who want to safely cross the busy streets to get to their MRT or BTS stations.  It is the perfect location to photograph overhead images of the city streets.  Take advantage of those overpasses at night and capture light trails, illuminated buildings, and shopping malls.

Sky Bars and Roof Tops

There are a lot of sky bars and roof tops to visit.  I had a sky pool and bar at the hotel we stayed in the financial district.  Some of them have specific dress codes so expect to look out of place if you show up with a tripod…  Some establishments are photographer friendly.  Unfortunately I did not have time to explore the roof tops myself but these are some of the famous ones:  The Roof @ 38th Bar, Scarlett Wine Bar & Restaurant at Pullman Hotel G, Vertigo & Moon Bar, Red Sky, Centara Grand at CentralWorld, Baiyok Tower, Char Rooftop Bar.

The Final Word

Bangkok is a very busy city and most people only stay for a few days before heading to other destinations.  I would recommend writing down a few locations to photograph because you’ll more likely run out of time.  There is just too much to photograph…  Try the public sky train and metro, it will save you tons of time.  Be careful for pick-pocketers and expensive boat, touktouk, and cab rides.  Always ask at your hotel for an average rate and directions written in Thai to show your driver.  Other than that, enjoy your stay and I hope you get some great photos!

Manny Photo Ideas – Olympic National Park.

I have been very impressed with the beauty found in the Olympic National Park in Washington state, USA.  The park is very diversify with mountains, lakes, rivers, and the Pacific coast line.  You can visit it the easy way driving your vehicle from campsites to lookouts or pack your backpack and hike the step terrain for days. Either way this is one of my favorite area to photograph in the Pacific North West.

Make sure to pack a wide variety of lenses and a good tripod.  There is great wildlife and landscape opportunities.  I normally pack my Canon 7D with my telephoto 100-400mm L series, wide angle 11-16mm f/2.8, macro 70mm f/2.8, my Manfrotto 055 tripod, Speedlite, ND and polarize filters.  That way I am ready for everything that the park have to offer.

Here are a few areas you should keep in mind if you are visiting the park.

  • Hurricane Ridge.  The step road from Port Angeles will lead you right to the top of the mountain ridge.  From there you can park your vehicle and walk along the ridge.  I highly recomend doing the whole loop during a high visibility day.  The view is stunning and you might encounter some wildlife.
  • Elwha fall.  There is a very nice waterfall just a few minutes from the road.  It’s an easy detour on the way to or from Lake Cresent.
  • Lake Cresent.  This large lake have a few campsites and a lodge to stay at.  You can use the lake or hike the various trails found all around the lake.  I suggest visiting Marymere fall,  just a short walk from the road and hike the step trail to the Pyramid mountain WWII old cabin lookout.
  • Sol Duc area.  You will find the Sol Duc river and a few hiking trails,  hot spring, a campsite and a lodge.  Make sure to hit the hot spring early morning and walk the hiking trails where you will find the famous waterfall.
  • The Coast.  Head west pass Forks.  This little town featured in the Twillight movies.  You might just find one or two photo opp.  You will finally arrive to the coast after a few hours.  You can either go North or South.  I suggest going South and camp on one of the beaches, Ruby beach or Kalaloch.  Either way you should find great pinnacles to photograph during sunsets.

I invite you to click here take a look at my Olympic National Park gallery on my Facebook page.