Last week, while on my way to a Seattle Mariner game at Safeco Field, I was walking through downtown Seattle with a friend who pointed out the tallest building in Washington.  “It use to be the tallest building west of the Mississippi”, he stated.  Moving close to the front facade, I pointed my wide-angle lens up toward the sky and captured this image- we were trying to make the first pitch of the ball game, so I didn’t spend much time trying to find out more about the location, however I knew I could license the image to a publication or two at a later time, or turn it over to my stock agency to do the same.


Off we went and I didn’t think much about the image until it showed up on my computer in Adobe Bridge (Photoshop’s media manager for imagery and RAW digital files).  Opening the graphic shot, I came to like it more and realized I hadn’t gathered enough information for a solid caption.  Off to Google Earth an jammin’ free Mac/PC application that let’s you go anywhere on Earth- one of those scary I-hope-the-terrorists-don’t-get-into-this programs allowing you to fly over mountains, view any landscape at any angle and elevation, and navigate through cities past three-dimensional buildings.  It’s addicting for sure. 

So I typed in Seattle and in a few seconds found my original location of this photo- through links and information on the building I was able to gather all the facts and figures I needed.  

The Columbia Center, the building on the right (along Fourth & Fifth Avenues and Cherry & Columbia Streets) is the tallest skyscraper in the downtown Seattle skyline at 937 feet.  It is also the 19th tallest in the US- constructed in 1982 and completed in 1985. The building on the left is the Seattle Municipal Tower

, 62 stories high, completed in 1990 (designed by Bassetti Architects).

I hadn’t played around enough with the 3D city views in Google Earth and was so amazed by it, I decided to see if I could recreate the view I captured in this virtual globe platform. Sure enough, after a little finageling, I was able to get it pretty close- I’d say close enough.

Wow.  Our world in real-time, available for so many educational functions including a travel photographer gathering caption info for his commercial business.

About the author

I'm a 23-year commercial photographer, author (The Complete Guide to Nature Photography, The BetterPhoto Guide to Exposure, as well as numerous articles), photo expert, industry personality, and all around nice dude based in the San Francisco Bay Area of California.