Fire Station at Twilight

Fire Station #10 sits at the edge of downtown Seattle. It’s in my neighborhood, so I walk past it regularly and have photographed it a number of times. I’m a fan of the architecture (the building was designed by Weinstein A+U). I like its clean, modern aesthetic, and how it feels solid without being imposing. The bits of red contrast nicely with the mostly black and grey tones of the façade. And the way the wall of glass doors opens out towards the street feels inviting. The fire station connects well with the neighborhood, and provides a nice transition between Pioneer Square to the west and the International District to the east. 

Photographed during the day, the building makes for a crisp and clean subject. But capturing it at twilight brings out something very different. There’s a certain drama that twilight photography lends to a subject. As the daylight fades and the artificial lighting becomes more pronounced, a beautiful effect occurs: The warm, golden glow of the lights begins to contrast dramatically with the darker, distinctly blue tones of the surroundings. It's a compelling look. Sometimes even a little mysterious.

Fire Station #10 is a perfect subject for twilight photography, with its wall of glass that encases the fire truck bays. At twilight, the bays become illuminated by the interior lights, making it possible to see inside the structure and catch a glimpse of the iconic red fire trucks.

It took some waiting to get this shot. Twilight shots always do. You arrive early, find your composition, set up the camera on the tripod. And wait. Mostly, you're waiting for the moment when the light is just right. In this case, I was waiting for the perfect light and for the fire trucks. Because just as I was arriving to take this photo, the doors opened and all of the trucks headed out on a call. And what would a photo of a fire station be without fire trucks? I figured there was a slight chance that they might return before it got too dark to take the photo, so I decided to wait a little while. Then, just as that 'perfect light' moment was about to pass, the trucks returned. Once all of the doors were closed, I quickly took the shot. 

The twilight version isn't necessarily better than the daylight version, but it is different. It conveys things about the structure and its environment that the daylight photo can’t. So whenever I have the chance, I like to shoot a building under both sets of lighting conditions, daylight and twilight.