Whenever I leave San Francisco, I take a redeye home. That gives me time before the flight to head over to Point Lobos for a California sunset.
I’ll take luck where I can get it, and I’ve been fortunate in this area. There’s a lot of scenery around here, so it’s not that hard to get good photos. Even if it’s foggy, there’s a lot of cool stuff to see. I love taking pictures in the fog. In Florida, we only get it briefly a couple of times a year. As I write this, I’m putting San Francisco fog photos on my list.
Speaking of lists, I’m not actually a list person. Maybe I should be, it might be useful. I do make a list when I’m told to go get groceries. That’s so I don’t screw up and forget something critical, like goat milk. But when I go to the store on my own, I don’t use a list. If I screw up then and forget something, nobody ever knows. Life is easy under the radar.
Here’s an early morning shot of the Palace of Fine Arts. I came early because I wanted to see it lit up, and, I was still on eastern time.
Because I was on a different time zone, it felt like mid-morning to me. Disassociation with local time is something I try to take advantage of when traveling. It allows me to get out early or late without much effort. Maybe that makes me sound a little lazy.
A couple of years ago I worked on a panorama of this, but I can’t find it now so I must have deleted it. I vaguely remember not being too happy with it. Nevertheless, I’ve taken another stab at it, and this time I’m satisfied. This is only one frame, but it looks a little like a pano. I didn’t do much other than a bit of color balancing and a crop. I guess I just needed time to forget about it and try try again.
I took this the morning after arriving from the east coast. When I woke up, it was before 4:00 AM, so I went out taking photos, and this was the last place I stopped. I started at the Palace of Fine Arts and ended up here at Embarcadero.
It was early on a weekend so the streets were empty and I could get from place to place in no time. Traveling to the west coast is easy to do, going the other way is another matter entirely. That is unless you like staying up late, but I’m more of a morning person, so going west works better for me. Early to rise…, and all that stuff.
It’s been two years since I took this and looking at it now I thought it was the Golden Gate bridge. But the background doesn’t look right, and the sun doesn’t set or rise this way as far as I know. Something didn’t seem right. Fortunately, this is tagged with GPS coordinates from an app I use; just like iPhone photos, but for Sony. So I looked it up on Google maps and only then did I realized it was the Bay Bridge. Silly me.
A few years ago I took an all-night drive down the Pacific Coast Highway. The only rule was that I had to be back at the San Jose airport by eight in the morning. So I gassed up the rental, picked up a couple of Red Bulls, and started driving.
By day, it’s one of the most scenic highways. By night, it feels like another world. Once you get below Carmel, there is no light pollution, and the stars are big and bright. As it happened, the moon illuminated the road, and my eyes got used to it, was more comfortable than daytime driving. I would stop at pullouts overlooking the coast and take long exposure images like this one at ten seconds.
Also, the lighthouses are fun to look at as they cast their rotating beams in the fog and low clouds. The one in the distance is Point Sur Lightstation. I made it down to San Simeon and turned the car around. It was a long drive back, but the sense of adventure (and Red Bull) kept me going. I made it back in time to grab my bags from the hotel and catch my flight home. And lucky for me, it was the pilot’s turn to drive, so I slept all the way back to Florida.
A few years ago, I was in San Francisco and while walking around I stopped at Grace Cathedral. It’s in an area called Nob Hill which is a nice little hike up from my hotel in Union Square. I was looking for a place to rest and the cathedral seemed like a good option.
Because of the hushed atmosphere, I didn’t feel comfortable just walking around taking photos, although it probably would have been okay. However, my camera has silent shutter mode that allows me to take photos without making a sound. Churches are one place I use that, I used it a lot while visiting cathedrals in Europe. But it’s also useful at weddings during the ceremony.
For an American city, San Francisco has some nice cathedrals. My other favorite in the city is Cathedral Of Saint Mary Of The Assumption which I saw on a subsequent trip. I think the best time to photograph cathedrals is on a weekday when no one is there and the sounds are hushed. I suppose we could say that both sights AND sounds played a role in the making of this image.
This is Ocean Beach from Point Lobos in San Francisco. My wife and I were having dinner at the Cliff House restaurant when the colors started changing and, as usual, I had to excuse myself from the table. There’s no getting around the fact that the spouse of a photographer is long-suffering.
It’s interesting how the people on the beach are evenly distributed. Have you ever notice how crowds of people seem to mimic fluid dynamics? Here they’re evenly dispersed like little water molecules on the sand. You can see this phenomenon when you view crowds from a distance. At a certain level, people follow the laws of physics. We observe the same behavior in traffic patterns which is then used to model highways and ramps.
In a previous post and similar picture from this beach, I compared the grains of sand to stars in the universe. It seems that whenever I look at this scene I’m reminded of the order of things, and how that order repeats regardless of the scale. Food for thought from someone who can’t sit long enough to eat.
This is from a section of the trail known as Lands End Lookout. As the name implies, it’s on the coast and above the ocean at the entrance to San Francisco Bay. I had a wonderful time here one afternoon and evening and took pictures until long after sunset.
For my money, golden hour is the best time to be here but any time of day is good. From this point, you can look down and see whales going by and large ships coming in and out of the bay. Maybe you can see little red and green dots on the ocean, those are navigation buoys marking the entrance to the bay.
If I had to pick one of my all-time favorite places to hang out, this would be it. I’m not alone, a lot of people come here for the same reasons; chill and recharge. Something about that west coast breeze washing over you on a warm night.
This is another HDR photo that I created using AuroraHDR 2018. Actually, this was a little tricky to make because it’s a long exposure using an ND filter shooting directly into the sun. The aperture of F14 is what creates the starburst effect. I combined five photos ranging from one to six seconds in length which gives the water a smooth quality.
Even though I spent hours on this I’m not totally happy with it. That’s because I’m aware of all the technical flaws it has; noise in the shadows, lens flare and lack of detail on the rocks. I’m posting it anyway because I like the overall effect and feel. And also, each time I work with photos I learn a little more. In this case I know what I need to do next time I have a similar scene; each time I get a little better.
In the end, it’s the scene and the mood that are most important to me. The technical aspects are important also, just not as important. I was able to recreate the idea I had in my head at the time, so it’s a win. I’m posting it because on balance, I do like the image. And to tell you the truth, that’s why I do photography in the first place.
I took this along the Pacific Coast Highway in California. It was the beginning of an all-night drive along one of the country’s most scenic highways. I didn’t intend to drive that far, it just kind of happened that way. One thing led to another and I just kept driving late into the night.
The area is so scenic that if you are a photographer you’ll want to stop a lot. I had a morning flight the next day so rather than sleep, I grabbed a Red Bull and headed down the highway. I ended up a couple hundred miles south before turning around. Arriving at my hotel around six I had just enough time to freshen up and head to the airport.
Even at night there was a lot to see; stars overhead, the beacon from a lighthouse, and the moonlit cliffs of the pacific range as it falls into the ocean. The trip wasn’t planned, but sometimes the best things in life are experienced when you just go with the flow.
This is inside the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, aka SFMOMA. The last time I was in California I visited, seeing as many exhibits as I could. This is the central atrium with a skylight at the top. These types of shots are disorienting until you figure it out. That’s the whole point, a little mind puzzle.
I spent a lot of time at the photography exhibits as well as the abstract paintings. The photos were from film and taken over fifty years ago, documenting an era in LA that I found fascinating. The abstract paintings were just as intriguing, some with such extraordinary detail that it was hard to imagine the effort required. But then that’s the reason to go; to see new things and learn.
I visited each floor, finally arriving at the top where I walked across a bridge under the skylight, which is bigger than it appears here. There was a lot of stairs, a lot of walking and a lot of standing and observing. When I finally got to the top I took the elevator down and grabbed this image before leaving with a coffee and a head full of new ideas and inspirations.