Dawn at the Golden Gate | A San Fran Morning

I’ve wanted to visit the archives for some time, so I did so for today’s post…which features dawn at the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco.  If you’ve never been to San Francisco or witnessed this beauty in person – put it on your list.  It’s amazing to travel up to the Marin Headlands to take in the rising sun as it illuminates the richly red structure and the city just beyond it on the horizon.  I’ve featured several images from past trips to the west coast destination, all of which I’ve enjoyed shooting.

Golden Gate Sunrise

Once again, I was fortunate to venture out in time to catch a beautiful sunrise.  As you saw earlier in the week – this time it was atop the Marin Headlands on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  The shot above was snapped before the sun rose over the horizon line – and the street lights were still lit on the bridge.  It gives the rich red colors of the bridge an eerie and almost ominous glow.

Contrasting against the strong darker colors of the early dawn light, the shot below was snapped once the sun reached above the horizon to the left of the bridge.  The water vista is to the immediate right of the bridge shots…in an area known as the Marin Headlands.  The softer pastel colors and the rolling coastal hills are such a cool contrast against the massive man made accomplishment of the bridge.

Streets of San Francisco

San Francisco is the hilliest (funny title, right?) city in the United States.  Oddly enough, I grew up next to what is often referred to as the second hilliest place in the US  – Fitchburg, MA.  But nevermind that for now – the shot above captures a typical streetscape in San Fran – ridiculous slopes and cars parked at angles so steep that you can barely believe they don’t roll right over.  This isn’t really quite a case of that, but walking up the hills over and over again will definitely give you some sore legs, and make for fun driving.

Below is an architectural detail that typifies what you might see on any random street in the city.  Richly detailed masonry and fire escapes adorning the sides of a building.  The blue sky and the clouds caught my eye, and the symmetry and the patterns of the buildings made for a great detail shot.

Sunrise at the Golden Gate Bridge

On our last day in San Francisco, I was able to convince my brothers to venture up to the Marin Headlands for sunrise.  I had been hoping for some fog to add some character to the scene….but once we set up camp I was happy that we had clear skies.  The bridge is such an awesome sight, and someone was kind enough to allow some paved roads on the high grounds north of the city so that lazy folks like us can drive up first thing and walk out to see the sun’s first rays over this feat of architecture.

I was also determined to get some good shots with my neutral density (ND) filter….which lead to some serious headaches as I fumbled about and tried to move swiftly with the early morning light coming up over the horizon. The trouble with an ND filter is that the exposures become incredibly long.  The filter I was using is a “10-stop”, which basically lets a magnitude of 10x less light through the lens….so basically you need a much longer amount of time to create the image by letting light reach the camera’s sensor.  While I didn’t come away with any show stoppers from the morning, I was happy that I tried to learn while out on what might be my last Golden Gate sunrise shoot…at least for a long time.  I like this shot for the pastels, the incredible subject and the almost antique look.

More shots to follow, be sure to check back in on Sunday for a couple of my favorite shots from the morning’s bounty.

Transamerica Pyramid | San Francisco

The Transamerica Pyramid is loved and hated pretty intensely.  The building was originally constructed in 1969-1972 and is easily the most recognizable and the tallest skyscraper in San Francisco, and drastically changed the skyline when it was finished.  You can see it from many places throughout the city – as you can see from the evening shot from afar above…and the sheer scale of the building as taken from the base (shown below).  I happen to enjoy the building, but it’s definitely not my favorite of the city.  While I’m featuring shots of San Francisco…it would be a crime to leave this one out.  What are your thoughts?

I’ve got ambitious plans to head out at sunrise to shoot another icon.  Looking forward to the early dawn light.

Coit Tower | Telegraph Hill

Another San Francisco icon – Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill.  The 210 foot tower sits atop the affluent neighborhood – with the land gifted to the city in the early 1900s by a wealthy socialite who enjoyed chasing fires (according to Wikipedia), Lillie Coit.  The tower is a monument to the city’s firefighters, who took on special meaning after the intense fires that followed the 1906 earthquake.

I’ll share this little tidbit of info from wikipedia, mostly because I found it quite entertaining: “Lillie Coit was one of the more eccentric characters in the history of North Beach and Telegraph Hill, smoking cigars and wearing trousers long before it was socially acceptable for women to do so. She was an avid gambler and often dressed like a man in order to gamble in the males-only establishments that dotted North Beach. Coit was reputed to have shaved her head so her wigs would fit better.”  Whatever the history and whatever Lillie’s true habits were, the tower is a gorgeous addition to the SF skyline.

San Francisco Fog / Portsmouth Harbor

Today’s post is a double feature.  The first image is a treat from home base for the next few days….the view of San Francisco Bay.  This is the fog that San Francisco is so renowned for….once it blew over, you could see Alcatraz just about dead center in the frame.  I’ll try to snap a good sunset shot before we hit the road for Yellowstone.

Below is a treat from a Portsmouth Harbor Cruise from the summer….what had been the sunset cruise that set sail at 7pm became more of a city lights cruise as the light had retreated as we made our way under the Memorial Bridge.  I didn’t quite mind though – as there was a beautiful crescent moon and the planet Venus hanging out just to its right.  This shot is one of my recent favorites – as it silhouettes two of Portsmouth’s icons under a summer sky.  The Memorial Bridge and the North Church mark the city’s skyline.

An Evening in Pacifica

As you may have heard – I’ll be spending the following week west of the Mississippi!  I’m in San Francisco for a few days and will be heading to Yellowstone (and driving through Grand Teton National Park).  My brothers and I headed out tonight with every intention of shooting the San Francisco skyline from Treasure Island (across the bay from the Financial District)…however the fog had different plans for us.  After exploring the area and some seriously windy roads, we decided to throw in the towel (thankfully – because my stomach couldn’t take it much longer).  We decided to head to a calmer spot south of the city – Pacifica.  Dave has some awesome shots of the pier at sunset….but we decided oceanfront and waves sounded pretty good….so today’s shots feature a couple night captures.  Above I went for a different black  & white treatment to play around with some different processing.

Below, I loved the evening sky and the stars and the stark contrast against our own planet’s beachfront.  Looking forward to sharing more from the voyage throughout the week.  Stay tuned!

Transamerica Pyramid | The Daily San Francisco Part II

The iconic Transamerica Pyramid is visible from many parts of the city.  The building, which was finished in 1972, faced much opposition throughout its planning stages – probably due to the structure’s stark contrast against the traditional architecture of San Francisco.  I think it looks especially cool with the retreating sun on its peak.

Transamerica Pyramid | The Daily San Francisco Part II

The iconic Transamerica Pyramid is visible from many parts of the city.  The building, which was finished in 1972, faced much opposition throughout its planning stages – probably due to the structure’s stark contrast against the traditional architecture of San Francisco.  I think it looks especially cool with the retreating sun on its peak.