Magnuson Park

Do you have a little secret spot that you like to go back to over and over again to shoot your Lego mini figures? You know, that one place you enjoy shooting no matter what the weather is like. We’re not all as lucky as Me2 and are able to travel with our little muses on a regular basis. Personally, I’m more home bound than I’d like to admit.  But that doesn’t stop me from taking my little subjects out on frequent excursions to my special place, Magnuson Park. No matter how many times I return, the park reveals new secrets to me.

I have learned that the most important aspect of photography, be it macro, landscape, portrait or still life, is that you’re required to be present in your surroundings. To be a photographer, you’re required to be observant.

I’ve been shooting at Magnuson Park for approximately three years now. It’s only a 15 minute drive from my house so I can easily drop in when the weather is good or my need to photograph gets too great. It was at this park that I first experienced what photographing LEGO could be. It’s here that I have taken just about every toy photographer that I know because it’s that cool. You could say that this park is more my muse than Lego is.


To give you a little history, Magnuson Park is an old United States Naval Air Station. In fact the first aerial circumnavigation of the globe ended at the airstrip on this old base. Most of my early memories around the base are from visiting there with my Grandmother. She was a frequent visitor to the base to play bridge with other Navy wives or to pick up  tax free booze and cigarettes for my Grandfather. I would often wait in the car when she went in to the commissary do her shopping. Coincidentally this is the same parking lot I now park in before wandering the restored wetlands to photograph Lego.


Like I mentioned earlier I’ve been photographing in the wetlands area and at the lake shoreline for about three years now and every time I go back I notice how much the park is changing. The brush has grown up, entire huge logs are there one day and gone the next, the slime mold is getting more amazing, lily pads are appearing in the larger ponds, the beaver family is cutting down trees faster than they can grow, paths are being washed away by over flowing ponds… I could go on, but how do you describe three years of change that has happened moment by moment and captured on a micro scale?

I thought I would share with you a selection of the images I have take there so you can see how one location can reveal so many different moods.

This park has become my happy place; it’s the place I go when I am itching to get a photo, take a walk in nature, hear the birds sing or the dragon flies hum. I never fail to leave rejuvenated and inspired.

If you come to Seattle for the upcoming toy photography meet-up, know that this will be on our short list of places to visit.

~ xxSJC

If you’re an outdoor photographer, do you have a favorite place to photograph? You know the one I mean, the one place you’re continually drawn back too. If you do, what makes it special? 


  1. You’re very lucky to have such a nice spot.
    I think I don’t do a lot of outdoor photography because I can’t find a spot that really pleases me nearby where I live. I’m pretty sure there are some nice places to shoot outdoor but I can’t find them. Everything seems so familiar to me that I only feel photographically appealed when traveling.

    • I realize I’m very lucky with this little gem in my backyard. I will admit I didn’t always appreciate it until I went there enough to see how much it changed with the different seasons. Im not saying you’ll be so lucky, but maybe taking a second or third look at those places near you will tell a different story. But either way, their will be value in continuing your search. 😀

  2. Wow, very cool, Shelly! I love how many different moods you’re able to garner from one location. You’ve really found a great way to make use of blurry green forest backgrounds AND clear blue skies, and finding quite a few ways to shoot using the natural elements (in water, on logs, etc.)

    I don’t yet have one particular spot that I go to again and again, but this definitely inspires me to go out more and leave the comfort of my lightbox more often!

    • Thanks James for checking out the whole range of images I posted. I think its safe to say that almost all of those images would be impossible to reproduce because the landscape has changed so much. It’s been eye opening to see how fast nature will engulf us if we let it go.

      I hope you can find a spot, or two, that will inspire you in the same way!

  3. actiotos

    Find the right position to take photos it’s great.
    In Magnuson Park you have a lot of space and no one can’t disturb you during the shots!
    The time is unlimited and this give you the opportunity to stay there for hours and hours, to take the better shot you want.
    The creativity is unlimited too, and this is what I like of this kind of photography.
    Lego is an art: it’s a big unknown world!
    I’ve just started my work and I hope to find my best place too.
    Good luck for your next shots!

    • Thank you for your comment my friend. I have plenty of company in this park, its pretty popular with all types of folks. Occasionally Im stopped and asked what Im up too and I always take the time to explain our crazy little hobby. Unlimited time! Oh don’t I wish, between work and kids and the blog, I squeeze in the creative time as I can. But I am truly grateful I have such a fun place to explore close by and down the street. I hope you are lucky in finding your own special place to shoot toys!

  4. Ann

    Wow, that park sounds awesome. It must be beautiful in all seasons and sunrise/sunsets. You are indeed lucky. I love your work and often wonder where you get your inspiration from. Now I know. One thing I would like to ask is, how do you keep your boats from tipping over? I’ve tried using lego bricks underneath but they keep wanting to float too!!

    • Shelly Corbett

      Ann, thank you for your comment. Yes the park is a constant source of inspiration. Its great for sunrise, but not so good for sunset. I tend to head to a different part of the city when Im looking for golden hour silhouettes. The trick with boats are rocks. Sometimes I will use twigs strategically placed under the boat, but thats harder since the boats will float away in the current. The trick is to find a body of water shallow enough to balance your boat in, but deep enough to get a reflection. Puddle are great. But when I want the water to move I use surrounding rocks to build up under the boat. I hope this little trick helps you in your own quest for interesting water photos. 🙂

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