San Francisco and the Bay
The position of the hilly and very densely populated city on the end of a peninsula near the Golden Gate makes for a never-ending variety of landscape photography opportunities. The vertical nature of the architecture and streets is a landscape in and of its own. It would take many years to even scratch the surface. It is rare that a city blends in so well into the landscape since most large cities are built on flat ground. On the panoramas page, there are also gigapixel-sized photos of San Francisco that can be printed up to 40 feet wide with fine resolution and larger with medium resolution!
Although Silicon Valley is the world’s technology Center, San Francisco is home to hundreds of high-tech startups and and better known companies such as Twitter, Uber, Instagram, Pintrest, Lyft, AirBnB, SalesForce (cloud computing) Wikimedia (wikipedia), Zynga (80 million users play farmville etc.), UStream, Metacafe, DropBox, RapLeaf, Blurb (photo books), Dolby Labs, Stumbleupon, Digg (THE way to go viral on the internet until Reddit (Also in SF) came along), Craigslist (the biggest want-ad website with local versions around the world), Yelp (recommendations on restaurants and other things, soon worldwide), Autodesk, (the leading computer design software company), Typekit, QuantCast (Web analytics), Twilio, Square(mobile payments), GitHub, Riverbed, Heroku (cloud computing/online customer database systems), Bebo, Chegg, CrowdFlower, Disqus, Fitbit, imgur, Jawbone, LiveJournal, Lyft, ON24, Quantcast, SideCar, Talenthouse, Technorati, Trulia, TwitchTV, Ustream, Open table, BitTorrent, Yammer, and so on. Every day, a new startup springs up.
More than high tech lives here. San Francisco is home to the worlds most valuable bank, Wells Fargo. Possibly the world’s largest construction company, Bechtel. Other companies include, Charles Schwab, Levis, the Gap stores, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Gymboree, Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma, Wired magazine, PC world magazine, WR Hambrecht and Co, Del monte, Anchor Steam, McKesson, and more.
Genentech, Lucasfilm, Industrial light and Magic, and Pixar are also within a few miles of where I made this image.
Alamo Square and the Victorian style ‘Painted Ladies’ are well known photo locations. At least 6 double-decker tour buses drove by in just the 30 minutes I was there. I witnessed hundreds of photos taken as I made mine! So in order to make an image that would stand out, I had to wait for a stormy day where the clouds (behind the camera to the west) would open up right at sunset to produce dramatic light against the clouds and cityscape. You should have seen the awesome sunset happening behind me! It was difficult to ignore it, but I wanted to show the city in a brilliant red light. It made a red stripe in the clouds and painted the cityscape in purples and other soft colors. A 1-minute exposure softened the sky and ensured that none of the people and dogs playing on the grass were visible.
The Municipal Pier, at the end of Van Ness Avenue, is the perfect place to watch the sunset. Behind the camera is a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge, but sometimes it is good to turn the camera away to see this view.
A 30-second exposure softened the water to reflect the mood on this evening. I had to wait for the sea lions to leave because they were making too many chaotic patterns in the water!
The west span of the San Francisco-Oakland bay bridge is an amazing suspension bridge, built in 1935! The east span (behind the island) is being rebuilt right now. 102 million vehicles crossed over the bridge in 2008 which makes it the second-busiest bridge in the world behind the George Washington bridge in New York, which carried 108 million.
This span is 10,304 feet long (3,141 m), nearly as long as the world’s longest suspension bridge, the 12,826 feet (3,909 m) Akashi Kaikyo bridge in Japan. And there is another 10,000ft non-suspension section to the left of the frame but it is not counted, so the Japanese bridge is considered longer.
The San Francisco – Oakland bay bridge is the longest high-level bridge in the world and seems to go on forever. It has 4 suspension sections so it is not in any record book. It is also almost the busiest large traffic bridge in the world with the George Washington in New York City only being 3% busier. I used a 10-stop filter to create a 4-minute exposure after sunrise.
This was actually fairly easy to do. Just make sure to compose the photo before you put on the super-dark filter and make sure everything is sharp. If you go here to try this, make sure it is high tide! I tried 3 minutes first but it was not quite enough, so I went for 4 and this looks good. Guessing is half the fun.
I decided to take in the sights at the ruins of the old Sutro Baths, built in 1896 to be an indoor/outdoor salt-water pool and spa. It was 250×500 ft (80m x 160m) and could hold 3700 spectators and over 1000 swimmers.
I was thinking about some long exposures after I had photographed some big surf so I walked along the haunted concrete walkways crossing over what seem like ancient ruins. I did a couple of long exposures and as I set up for one last shot, a couple decided to plop right down in front. Rather than worry about it, I worked them into the photo by moving to the right far enough to get them separated from the dark background of the offshore rocks.
The Berkeley Marina is a beautiful place to start and end the day. The sun rises and sets over the water. Here, I walked around… actually I ran around… a lot! I tried to arrange the boats into a pleasing pattern to complement the clouds as the first light of day advanced. The problem is that clouds and light like this only last a short while.
However, this was not what I set out to see on this morning. I wanted a nice photo of the Berkeley Pier with the city and Golden Gate Bridge behind it. But that view is a 90-degree angle to the left of this view and the clouds in that direction evaporated. So I ran over here when I saw these clouds forming and then looked around for the best ‘thing’ to put in front of them.
The Old Pier 1 – Berkeley, California
Image #1 of the Berkeley Pier. This wide angle view extends from Angel Island on the right to the Presidio on the left. Alcatraz island is straight ahead. (From WikiPedia:) This pier as constructed extended three and a half miles into the San Francisco Bay from the end of University Avenue, but is today approximately two and a half miles (4.10 km) in length; however, only the first 3000 ft (0.9 km) are maintained and open to the public. It was constructed in 1926 to provide a deep water landing for an auto ferry to the Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco.
The sun beams opened a hole on the clouds! This lasted for only a few glorious moments.
An overpowering sunset shone over the Golden Gate bridge to the left of this view. Although it was tempting to shoot towards the sun, I went for the more unusual view shown in the next two photos! Alcatraz is behind the pier.
I’ve never seen it like this before!
I will be adding other photos of the city to this page in June, 2015