Black & White of SoDo Station as Central Link Train is About to Arrive

My black & white conversion of a Central Link train approaching SoDo Station

I encourage you to please take photos of transit.  That full or almost full bus you’re riding on?  Get a picture – then post to the Seattle Transit Blog Flickr Group.  It helps lobby politicians for more transit service a lot more than just a quick, polite e-mail (which is always good).  I’m certainly not asking for perfect pictures – just a quick iPod or phone picture will do.

When you see something innovative like Swift Bus Rapid Transit, Seattle Streetcar or a transit operator doing a great job?  Get a few pictures, then post to the Seattle Transit Blog Flickr Group what you got please.

When you see something newsworthy or understand the need to build up stock photography for editorial copy?  Post to the Seattle Transit Blog Flickr Group what you have, please.

When you can, please take a helicopter flight (perhaps using this Groupon as I did) and get some aerial photos involving transit.  Then post to the Seattle Transit Blog Flickr Group what you have, with some comments on what you saw.  Perhaps also add a paragraph about how you think the land use is or isn’t compatible with mass transit plans.

Also I moderate a group called Photoshopped Transit.  That’s for folks like I that like to use mass transit as an opportunity to practice post processing techniques such as black & white conversions, selective saturation, photoshopping logos and the like.  Even if you just use an iPad, iPod or iPhone with the VSCO Cam app adding easy color – that’s good enough for my group.  Not asking for epic artwork here, just some artistic effort.

Why?  Ultimately transit photography can be a non-confrontational way to advocate for transit.  I know many of us in the Seattle Transit Blog community wish away election campaigns and shy away from politicking for a litany of reasons.  Transit photography is a way to campaign without having to play the political games we have to play and play to win.

30 Replies to “Please Photograph Transit”

  1. The Port Authority Trans-Hudson has a set of rules:
    including one of the most restrictive photography rules in the transit industry that I know of (about 5/6th of the way down the page). Of course, they had the unique situation of having a station in the basement of the World Trade Center.

    In 2007 the Washington State Steel-Electric ferries were abruptly retired.

    You never know when some event may suddenly make the photographs a recording of something that will never be around again.

    1. I suspect the Port Authority would lose if their rules were challenged in court. Then again NYPD seriously was hassling people taking pictures of the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge for a few years after 9/11.

      Because if you let tourists take pictures of things the terrorists win.

  2. I photograph transit to illustrate Wikipedia articles (examples: SODO Station, Community Transit).

    Thanks to everyone on Flickr who have licensed their photos as CC-BY or CC-BY-SA, which are transferable to the file repository arm of Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons. Make sure to tag and add descriptions/titles so I can find those images!

  3. For advocacy, and especially talks with elected officials, a pictures is worth a lot more than a thousand words.

    Especially because average technical text, even if it’s in PowerPoint, gets mentally filed behind committee-meeting in fifteen minutes and whether cat food was on the grocery list.

    Also true that while image is every agency’s prime directive, Hamacher-Schlemmer and Sharper Image if they’re still around have devices to put PR second to truth.

    My favorite purchase would be the fountain pen that sits in your shirt pocked filming and recording. You can probably write with it too. Caution: concentrating on anything artistic or journalistic in DSTT, just don’t get your head knocked off with a mirror.

    Certain YouTube loving Middle Eastern organization might not appreciate the competition.


  4. I could probably start a whole series of photos of people who were left behind at 6th & Pike because the 522 was too full.

    1. Some video with sound to record body language, comments, and barrages of flying contents of overloaded bus zone trash cans.

      Somebody could mix it in with rap stuff and similar videos, and you might get worldwide flash mobs and also indie contracts. Like Michael Palin said at the end of “A Fish Called Wanda”..”Revenge! Revenge!”


  5. When you see three 48s back to back? Please, take a few photos and post them to the Seattle Transit Blog Flickr Group.

  6. The brilliant, sunny shots of the bus are a great advertisement, but all you see is a clean and shiny bus. A night or dusk shot, where you can see all the people standing inside would be a great advertisement. Trick is to make the bus look inviting and warm, not scary and chaotic

    1. I would encourage you EHS to go out there and take your photos. Also take some photos inside the bus when folks are aboard.

      Just a thought.

      1. I absolutely would, but I’m currently in grad school away from Seattle. Hence my trying to pawn off photo ideas.

  7. I’ll keep my eye out for a photo chance. However, I won’t be flying any helicopters to get photos.

    1. Dan, just do what you can ;-). Not asking for Lyle Jansma-quality effort, but at least start taking a few photos.

  8. I remember back when I was taking photographs while waiting at Auburn Station years ago, and a security guard confronted me about it. Nothing happened, but he still wasn’t happy.

    1. You see all police and security guards know that when you allow photography the terrorists win.

      1. That is seriously, genuinely awesome! Keep it up and maybe if Heritage Flight Museum can get reopened again you can be my fellow Visual Docent!!

      2. Thanks guys! Joe, definitely drop me a line if Visual Docent opportunities arise at HFM — I had a blast shooting planes during Seafair (um… with a Canon, not a cannon…) and from the description on the website their program sounds interesting.

  9. For anyone who wants a higher perspective but can’t afford a helicopter ride just for photos, consider pole aerial photography — hoisting your camera into the air 20-30 feet or more on a simple hand-held pole gets a very different perspective on street scenes.

    I use a telescoping fiberglass kite pole that collapses small enough to carry on a bus or a bicycle, with a small tripod head epoxied to the top of it. Works great with a GoPro or a compact pocket camera.

    Haven’t thought of using it for transit photos before, but it’s great for street projects, architectural photography, etc. For example,

    1. Josh;

      Great idea. Can you please tell us how you do something like that. Pole aerial photography is something that hopefully can catch on!



      1. I use the cheapest, most-manual pole photography techniques.

        Basically, a telescoping fiberglass pole sold for flying kites, with a small tripod head epoxied into the end of it.

        For this technique, you’ll want a small, lightweight camera that has an intervalometer and a fairly wide angle lens.

        Set the camera to take a photo every five seconds for the next five minutes, then run it up the pole and aim it in the general direction you’re trying to capture. Your framing won’t be perfect, so vary the aim slightly while the camera is in the air.

        Your first attempts will be awful. The camera will be aimed too high, or too low, or something. But it doesn’t take many tries to learn the feel for your setup, and then you can reliably get decent framing on the first set of exposures.

        Now, if you decide you really like pole photography and want to spend some money on it, there are sophisticated rigs with remote-controlled camera platforms, remote viewfinders, tripod bases, taller poles, stronger poles for heavier cameras, etc. Really nice 60-foot tripod masts for just under $2,000 at

        But I chose my system for portability, it slings over my back on a shoulder strap so I can carry it on a 20-mile bike ride.

        I’ve also used it for large group photos, event photography, etc.

        Aim the camera straight down to get a starting point for a plan view of wherever you’re standing — handy for landscape planning or documenting a site that’s hard to visualize from the ground, e.g.,

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