Photography: San Francisco

200812110317485922976121 Photography: San Francisco

So, I decided to take a photographic trip to San Francisco along with the family. As I’ve heard from other photographers, November is the best time to photograph the city. They were right, instead of eating turkey at my Uncle’s house, we drove for 6 hrs on turkey day. Damn, that was a long drive. On our way to SF, we encountered many different weather conditions, which was great for photography, but not so great for driving. The fog was so thick at one point that all the cars had to slow down. After we passed through the fog, the lighting was beautiful because the sun was already setting. My brother was driving, so I took pictures of the farmlands and the empty spaces that we passed. It’s difficult to photograph from inside a moving vehicle. I made sure that my shutter was at least on 1/450th of a second so that nothing blurred.

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Heavy fog on the freeway.

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It was already dark when we got to SF, so I was a little disappointed. I was hoping to photograph the Golden Gate bridge during sunset. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow for that. But that night, we decided to photograph the bridge using a tripod. We drove across the bridge and found a spot with a lot of tourists wandering around. It’s a pretty crappy angle of the bridge, so I wasn’t too happy but didn’t have a choice. So, I set up my tripod, and opened up the shutter for 30 seconds to capture the picture below.

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This turned out better than I thought.

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This was taken using the 200mm lens.

The next day, we ventured the city and ended up in a lot of different places. The first stop was Chinatown. The hotel manager recommended a Dim Sum restaurant to try. So we did, and it was good. The best dish was the pork spare rib. I had that before but never with the garlic flavor that they had. After Chinatown, we headed towards the Coit Tower. On the way there, we got lost as usual. But it’s cool because I enjoyed sightseeing. But, my brother was stressed out because the GPS wasn’t very accurate. Eventually, we found the tower, it was sitting on top of a hill overseeing the bay. I saw Alcatraz from the parking lot. We went up the tower, and was disappointed that there were glasses on the windows. I guess it kept people from throwing things over, but this was bad for photography because of  the reflectons. Oh well, I thought I’d make the most out of the visit since we were already there and took some pictures. I only found one picture that I really liked, the rest looked very generic and boring.

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Dim Sum restaurant. I was talking about that pork spare ribs on the left.

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The only photo that I liked. That white car on the right is our rental. That’s Alcatraz up top.

After Coit Tower, we headed towards the presidio. It’s an old naval base built by the Spaniards. The Golden Gate bridge was very visible from that area. I got excited when I saw the view the moment we drove up. It’s nice little area where people jog and ride bikes, it’s almost like a beachside park. There’s a mini-pier straight ahead where people fished for mostly crabs. I also noticed a seal swiming around. I wanted to take a picture of the seal but it was too quick. It came up for a split-second and goes back down. At this point, the lighting was very nice. It was soft due to the fog that was hovering around the bridge.

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The bridge looks faded due to the fog.

After the Presidio, we left for the hills. The hotel manager told us that there was a secret spot up the hill where one can take great photographs, and most tourists don’t know about the spot. Perfect! Less people, with a unique angle of the bridge. But, before we got to the hill, we got stock on the bridge for probably 45 minutes. Traffic! I thought “great, the sun is setting, we’re going to miss our shots.” Luckily, we managed to find our way around another exit and still found the secret spot. There were a few people there, but nothing to worry about, there were enough spaces for everybody. We got to the first spot, but didn’t think that the view was high enough, so we kept on driving higher and higher until we got all the way to the top. That was the spot! The city and the bridge looked amazing from up there. I was more amazed at the view away from the bridge than I was with bridge. The bridge looked….like the bridge. Nothing new there, but the bay, the trees, the rocks, and the fog looked more interesting. The sun was still setting, so it was perfect.

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This was taken at the first spot on the hill.

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The bridge can disappear at anytime.

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The first spot wasn’t high enough, so we went higher.

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My brother took this shot. It’s one of my favorites.

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The water looks misty because I opened the shutter for about 20 seconds here.

After the sun disappeared, we decided to leave for Sausalito, a small fishing community near the bridge. But, everything was closed, and it was already too dark to take pictures. So, we decided to eat at a Thai restaurant. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t anything special. The best part of the trip to Sausalito was the present that the parking cop gave us. A $50 ticket for parking at the wrong spot. The signs were barely visible because it was dark, and it was posted all the way on the bottom end of the street. Oh well, at that point, there was nothing we can do. After that minor irritation, we drove back to SF, and walked around Union Square which was 2 blocks away from our hotel. Union Square is a high-end shopping district right in the middle of the city. In the middle of the square, they built a skating rink, which reminded me of Central Park. I was thinking of renting some skates and making a fool of myself, but chickened out. Instead, I just took some pictures at 1600 ISO because it was dark. 1600 ISO = grainy shots, but I still prefer grain over flash. I hate using flash.

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One of the expensive stores at Union Square.

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Kids and adults alike were having a blast at the rink.

The next day, we went back to Chinatown and tried out another Dim Sum restaurant. That was also very good, especially their sho-mai (pork dumplings). It was smaller than most, but it was very fresh and juicy.

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The second restaurant we visited.

After a good breakfast, we went to a museum (i forgot the name) with the statue of a lion sitting up front. I had fun taking pictures over there, especially the exteriors. But, the interior of the museum was very small, so it didn’t have that grandeur feeling that you get, like when you go to the Getty.

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The lion guarding the doors.

After the museum, we were off to the Fisherman’s Wharf, so we can catch our boat to Alcatraz. We got there in a rush because parking was hell. The first parking structure that we lined up for was full, so we had to drive 2 blocks east to get to another parking garage. SF is a great city, but parking is ridiculous. It is hard to find, and when you find it, you get raped with the fees. Anyways, got to the boat in time, and lined up for about 15 minutes before they started boarding. This was about 4pm so the sun was setting. Yes, sunset is very improtant to us photographers, it can make or break our photos. So, we head towards “The Rock.”

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The Rock from afar.

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The sun was gone at this point.

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Welcome to The Rock! It’s very dark, but I refuse to use flash.

After Alcatraz, we ate at the Wharf and drove back to the hotel. We were tired, but decided to walk Union Square one last time. Nothing new there, so I didn’t take much pictures. The next day, we were looking for a place to eat and ended up on the East side of the Wharf. As we drove towards the Wharf, I saw the Bay Bridge up close. It looked amazing during sunrise, combine that with a slight fog, then you get an awesome view.

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See what I mean?

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From another perspective.

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This was taken outside the shopping center at the Wharf. The lighting was great.

Everything was still closed when we got there, so we ended up eating at Subways. Damn, I hate that place but had no choice. After stuffing ourselves with meatball sandwiches, my brother wanted to see the houses from the TV show, Full House. I liked that show, but I guess my brother was a hardcore fan. So, off we go. We got to the park, but at first, I was disappointed with what I saw. It looked like a regular park, until we went up the hill, and into the wooded area. Behold, the lighting there was awesome. The rays were coming through the branches and spreaded around the ground like I saw in paintings and movies. It reminded me Gladiator, when Maximus was making a speech to his calvary in the beginning. After snapping a few hundred shots, we walked further until we saw an open grassy area. Hey, this was where Uncle Jessy was playing around with his nieces? If you’re wondering what I mean, go search “Full House Intro” on Youtube. Then, my brother got excited when he saw the houses lined up as they were in the show. He took the camera from me and snapped away.

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The rays make everything look dramatic.

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Looks familiar?

The Full House scenic tour was the last visit of our trip. After that. we headed for the Bay Bridge to go to Reno. There’s nothing in Reno except for empty Casinos, so no pictures there. San Francisco is a great city to visit. I was able to see a little of everything in terms of weather and lighting. It’s a little pricey, but if you like photography you need to stop by. Do it during the winter time, when the fog is low and the sun is out. You get the best of both worlds, soft and hard lighting at the same time.

pixel Photography: San Francisco

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