A Fascinating Look at the Life of Edward Curtis

Short Nights Shadow Catcher

At Shutter Tours, we read a lot of books. One can say that Half Price Books gets a lot of our money each year as we do frequent research on Seattle to continually improve our tours.

I recently came across a book about Photographer Edward Curtis that I was unable to put down, “Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher” by Timothy Egan.

Princess Angeline

Edward Curtis was a photographer that got his start in downtown Seattle in the late 1800’s and his photo of Chief Seattle’s daughter; Princess Angeline started him on a journey and an obsession to capture the Native American’s on film before they disappeared.

Edward S. Curtis self portrait 1899

Curtis spent the next three decades traveling throughout the west to document the stories and rituals of more than eighty North American tribes. Not only did he take over 200,000 photographs and copper gravure plates during this time. He painstakingly wrote down vocabularies and pronunciation guides for 75 languages and transcribed an enormous amount of myths, rituals and religious stories from oral history in his 20 volume set of books simply titled, “The North American Indian.”

This book takes you from the very beginning of his journey from becoming friends with Theodore Roosevelt to his meetings with J.P. Morgan who helped finance his expenses to travel the equivalent of over 27 times around the world.

edward curtis Canon de Chelly 1904

The book is very well researched using many many documents, letters, and photos from the Allen Library at the University of Washington as well as the Library of Congress Curtis Collection and many other sources including the Pierpont Morgan Library.

Chief Joseph of Nez Perce

A fascinating read that will often have you shaking your head at how Edward Curtis persevered to see this project to completion after 32 years. He endured sickness, financial hardship, divorce and the struggle to keep everyone on his team moving in the same direction.

Northwestern University has a digital copy of “The North American Indian,” with all 20 volumes scanned. For this project, the full twenty volumes of close to 5000 pages of narrative text were electronically scanned. With over 2200 scans of the photogravure plates, which in the original Curtis work include 1500 images bound in the volumes and the remainder as loose plates in twenty accompanying portfolios.

I will say this, read the book first and then check out the above electronic version of his work as you’ll appreciate it much more after finishing the book.

If you enjoy Native American history and photography as we do, this is a book not to be missed.



How We Spent a Day Touring Seattle

Being tour guides in Seattle requires us to not only know a lot about the city but also keep up with all the changes that happen throughout the city from month to month. Amanda and I decided that we needed a day taking tours and seeing some of the recently added attractions in Seattle.

Our first stop was to take advantage of the 10-hour early bird parking special at the garage on Third and Stewart. This is only a few block from the Pike Place Market and as of this writing, it was $18.00 for up to ten hours if we arrived before 9:30.

Biscuit Bitch in Seattle

Heading to the Pike Place Market, we knew that we had to head over to Biscuit Bitch for some breakfast. This place can be hectic, and on the weekends there are probably 40-50 out the door waiting to get served. Featured on the Travel Channel, New York Times and Wall Street Journal, you know this is a place not to be missed.

I ordered the Smokin’ Hot Bitch with Biscuits and Gravy, (both Gluten free), cheese, spicy hot sausage and had them hold the jalapenos. It was really too much food for me, but it was a great way to start the morning.

Next Amanda and I wanted to explore the Pike Place Market and see if much had changed and it really hadn’t.


9 Fun Things to Do in Seattle

Shutter Tours PikePlaceMarket

There are many options of things to do in Seattle from sightseeing tours such as our Snoqualmie Falls and City Tour, to exploring Seattle waterfront and local neighborhoods like Fremont, how of the famous Fremont Troll.

We thought we would put together ideas for you to help make your travel plans to Seattle.

Snoqualmie Falls and City Tour

Snoqualmie Falls

Of course, we think our Snoqualmie Falls and City Tour is the best value in Seattle and so do over 600 people on Trip Advisor who gave us 5-star reviews. Our tour begins at Pike Place Market at 10 AM, just late enough where you can grab some breakfast at Cafe Lieto, known for their biscuits and perhaps a cup of coffee at the original Starbucks or one of our favorite coffee shops, Storyville Coffee.

Seattle Kerry Park Shutter Tours

You’ve probably searched for how to get to the location where the famous viewpoint is in Seattle with the Space Needle in the foreground, that is Kerry Park, our last stop on our tour. This is the view made famous in the show Frasier, and we often see Mt. Rainier towering 14,410 feet in the distance. By taking our tour you can check this off your bucket list, but better than that, you’ll have the perfect viewpoint to get some fantastic photos of the city to remember your trip to Seattle.

Tour price $69.00

 Chihuly Garden and Glass


Dale Chihuly is a world famous glass artist known for his large-scale “Glass Sculptures” and was born and raised in the Seattle area. You may not know this, but Seattle is #2 in the world for glass studios next to Murano, Italy thanks to the local influence of Dale. Dale Chihuly’s  work has been featured all over the world and is included in more than 200 museum collections worldwide. On your visit to Seattle, you don’t want to miss this impressive Chihuly Gardens to see the work of this master artist that has brought a whole new appreciation of glass art.


Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market in Seattle

The Pike Place Market is the heart and soul of the city. Starting in 1907 on the corner of First and Pike Place, the market has been continuously running ever since. With over 10 million visitors per year, tourists and locals love this place.

Between the summers of 1906 and 1907, food prices rose sharply in Seattle. Onions that had been ten cents a pound were now a $1 (keep in mind John Nordstrom sold a pair of new shoes for $2 a pair). The boom in prices followed the increase in lumber prices following the San Francisco earthquake and fire in April of 1906. But also because the middlemen were gouging the consumer. Due to this frustration, the Seattle City Council passed an ordinance for Pike Place as a site for a farmer’s market and the Pike Place Market was born.

The first day only seven farmers showed up to sell their produce. Rumors from threatening boycotts by middlemen to death threats made its way around the city. This didn’t stop over 10,000 people from showing up that day. The first day was such a success that the next Saturday, over 70 farmers made their way to the market with just as many waiting customers.


Steve and Jess and Their Great Tour Video

Flying The Nest

Stephen and Jess of Flying The Nest joined our Snoqualmie Falls and City tour and shot this great video. They were great to have on the tour and full of wonderful travel stories that you can read about on their website.

Top 10 Places To Take Photos In The Seattle Area.

Seattle's Top Photo Spots

Book a tour with Shutter Tours, we are one of the top things to do in Seattle. You’ll see many of the most scenic and interesting locations in Seattle.

10. Pu Pu Point in Issaquah

Pu Pu Point in Issaquah WA Photo Credit Terry Divyak via Shuttertours.com

This is one of the locations that many Seattle natives may not even know about. Located about 10 minutes east of Issaquah, Pu Pu Point is the jumping off location for paragliders. With it’s breathtaking view of Lake Sammamish and surrounding areas, makes for a great backdrop with the colorful paragliders as your subject matter. This is one of those locations you’ll have to work for, however. It’s is about a 45 minute hike up to the point from the parking lot and has a pretty good elevation gain, so bring water to keep yourself hydrated. Once you arrive, you will want to spend some time sitting and watching the almost delicate ballet of the paragliders as they float on the updrafts. It is not unusual to see 20 or more floating above the point on a beautiful day.

Location to shoot from:

First and foremost, you want to stay out of the way of the para gliders. This is a dangerous sport and the less distractions, the better for those that are trying to get airborne. You can get a great shot, standing directly behind the launching point. This gives you a terrific background, especially in the mid morning hours. I also like to stand on either side of the launch pad and use both a wide angle and telephoto lens to capture the action. You’ll need a telephoto lens once they are airborne to get some good closeups.

9. Snoqualmie Falls


Snoqualmie Falls Tours

Snoqualmie Falls is one of the most popular attractions in Washington State next to Mt. Ranier and Seattle’s Pike Place market.  About 45 minutes from Seattle, this is the farthest location from Seattle on our list. Rising 268′ from the bottom of the basin, the falls can be captured from the observation deck with a perfect view as the above image by KM Photography illustrates. This was not listed further up the list as it is quite a drive from Seattle, but is worth the effort to get there.

Location to shoot from:

The observation deck, about 100 yards from the parking lot is the most popular place to shoot. Setting up a tripod can be a bit of a problem when there are weekend crowds, so go later in the day or on a weekday. As you look at the falls, you are looking East, so the sun will be behind the falls in the morning and illuminating the falls in afternoon and evening. You can also take a trail to the bottom of the falls. There is a wooden boardwalk that will give you a good vantage point from below. At the bottom of the trail is also the 1910 powerhouse, closed off behind fences, and the river itself. Visitors can leave the boardwalk and  walk on the river rocks to get a better view from the bottom. Be advised that this area floods during heavy rains.


10 Interesting Facts You May Not Know About Seattle

Pioneer Square Seattle

1. It doesn’t rain in Seattle as much as you think it does or does it?

Well this is a two part answer. No it doesn’t rain as much as people are led to believe.  It does if you are measuring the days of rainfall Seattle gets per year.

At 38 inches of rain per year, we are not even in the top 50 list for annual rainfall in major U.S. Cities.

We are in the top 5 cities for the number of days of precipitation at 151 days per year.

We also average 226 cloudy days a year with only 58 days of clear skies. It’s no wonder people who move to Seattle suffer from S.A.D or Seasonal Affected Disorder.

It doesn’t rain almost 90% of the time. If you add up all the hours in a year, Seattle only gets rain 11% of the time.

Source: National Climatic Data Center, NOAA

2. Seattle is the largest city in America named after a Native American

For a time other cities like Olympia, Port Townsend and Port Gamble had been named, but the settlement now known as Seattle was nameless until a clerk in Olympia called it Duwamps to the dismay of the residents. At the insistence of Doc Maynard, the settlers quickly put together a less repulsive name.

Named after Chief Seattle (also known as Sealth, Seathle, Si’ahl, Seathl, Seeathl, or See-ahth) or si?al in his native Lushootseed language. He led the Duwamish and Suquamish Tribes when settlers arrived in the greater Seattle area in the 1850s.


10 Interesting and Fun Seattle Sports Trivia Facts

There is no doubt that Seattle has come into its own in the world of sports. From the Superbowl Champion Seattle Seahawks to a soccer fan base that is passionate about their team, the Seattle Sounders. We thought we would put together some fun trivia about Seattle professional sports teams.

1. Seattle Metropolitans

Seattle Metropolitans 1917

Seattle’s first professional sports championship was brought to the city by the Seattle Metropolitans in 1917 when they became the first American team to win the coveted Stanley Cup by beating the Montréal Canadiens three games to one. Ask most Seattlites and they would probably say it was the Seattle Sonics who won the NBA championships in 1979, being the first to bring a professional sports championship home.

2. Seattle Mariners


The last time the Seattle Mariners won a pennant, Facebook did not exist. Facebook was founded in 2004, and the Seattle Mariners last won an American League West Pennant in 2001.  In the previous three years, Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson and Alex Rodriguez had all left the team. No one was expecting the world out of whoever was left. Instead, what they got was 116 wins, the most in American League history and tied for the most ever with the 1906 Chicago Cubs. 2001 was also the year Ichiro Suzuki debuted for the team, possibly the most beloved Mariner ever after Griffey. He led the league in batting average and won the AL MVP.

Ken Griffey Jr. was recently inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Breaking Tom Seaver’s voting percentage record by receiving 99.32% of the vote.


Hot Air Balloon Rides in Seattle

The most photographed event in the world is the Albuquerque balloon festival. With over 550 balloons launching at once, it is a photographers paradise. With that many balloons, it is almost impossible not to get some amazing shots. In the Northwest, there are a few balloon festivals where two to three dozen hot air balloon pilots show up.

The Winthrop Balloon Roundup is actually coming up in just a few weeks. This can be a rare photographic experience since there will be snow on the ground. Two dozen balloons will launch each morning on the 4th, 5th, and 6th of March. It’s free and a ton of fun.

The other large balloon festival in the NW is the Tigard Balloon Festival. Here is a link to check it out. http://www.tigardballoon.org/#about

Some photographers enjoy just taking photos of balloons from the ground, however taking photos in flight is amazing. No matter when you go, it will be an incredible experience, and you’ll get some great shots. Here are 6 tips to set yourself up for the best photos possible.

1. Fly with other balloons

In Seattle, the best place to fly is in the Snohomish Valley. 3-4 balloons launch at sunrise and sunset each day from May to October. To get the best shots as a photographer, you’ll want to go in a balloon with less passengers. http://www.seattleballooning.com has private flights, that carry a max of 4 passengers at a time. Other balloon companies in Snohomish and Woodinville carry 8-10 passengers in their baskets.


Getting Ready for the Tulip Festival

Schuh Farms

Here at Shutter Tours we try to build relationships with the employees at the various locations we share with our customers. Today I made a couple of stops in the Skagit Valley in Mt. Vernon , Washington to see how the tulip fields were coming along in anticipation of our Tulip Festival Tour.

We have always wanted to stop by Schuh Farms and after doing so, we will be adding it to our tour next year. This is a wonderful stop with so many things to see and do. Of course I had my camera at the ready and spent well over an hour taking some fun photos as the pumpkins were out in anticipation of Halloween.

Steve Schuh of Schuh Farms

Steve Schuh spent some time sharing a little bit of information about the farm and was excited to share with me all the various fields that he owns and the great things his farm has to offer for our customers during the Tulip Festival. As he got on his tractor to give a school children a Hayride, I took a quick photo and was excited to see him again next year during the Tulip Festival.


Take a Day and Shoot in B&W

We spent a day in Seattle simply shooting with my iPhone 5s. The goal for this day was to just shoot in black and white mode, using the Noir filter as my only option for shooting. When I pulled the images into iPhoto to then transfer them to Bridge and ultimately Photoshop, all the photos were in color and not B&W like on my phone which was a bit frustrating. I then used Alien Skin Exposure 6 to bring out a B&W image that matched pretty close to what I was seeing on my iPhone. At the end of the day it was a great exercise in looking at the world a bit differently and realizing that the iPhone has an amazing camera as you can see by the images below.

Produce stand at Pike Place Market

Restroom Sign

Crazy Lady at Pike Place Market

Post Alley in Seattle


Seattle Night Photography

Spent an evening with some great guys from New York shooting some photos at night in Seattle. This is such a great way to see the city as it gives you a whole new perspective and appreciation for where you live.







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