Hippies and graffiti and weirdness, oh my!
I've been to San Francisco many times, and absolutely love to go there. It's probably my favorite US city, though there are plenty I still haven't been to. Well I've been to a lot, and nearly all of the big ones, but you know, there's a ton of stuff to see. It's a big country out there! I better get busy, I guess.
And it seems like there's always some place I want to go see. That's the challenge with having wanderlust - you can never really quench that thirst. It just lingers.
A couple of weeks ago, I had two nights in the lovely City by the Bay, and though I had limited time to shoot the city, I made the most of it. Like every trip I take, I had a long list of stuff to shoot while there. I have my favorite haunts in San Fran of course, many of which are on this list, and I love to shoot them, returning again and again (can anyone say The Ferry Building?? I just love that place.). In fact, I returned to several of those spots while I was there, but I also got out to shoot some new stuff.
Because of my work schedule that week, I had to squeeze in my photography in the morning before work and of course in the late afternoons and evenings too, but luckily those are my favorite times to shoot, so it all worked out. Well, except for the super early wake-ups. I always have that problem when I travel West. It's great to get up and go shoot, but I sure get tired after a few days of it. It's just hard to sleep much past 5:30am when I get to California, since my body is still thinking it's 7:30am or something. Anyways, that's why I brew up a big cup of English Breakfast tea. It's a good way to start the morning, in my opinion. Caffeine is my friend, especially at 5:30am!
One particular place I had always wanted to see was the Haight Ashbury district, which is the subject of today's post. It's the center of the hippie counter-culture sort of thing from way back in the Summer of Love in the 1960's. I had heard much about it, and had seen photos online, but being who I am I just had to set my own eyes upon it. There's nothing quite like being somewhere yourself and getting a feel for a place. Haight Ashbury is one of those famous areas in a town that is full of them, and so I set out one afternoon after work to explore it.
Considering I started in the Financial District side of town (which is a LONG way away from The Haight), I took a cab to the corner of Haight and Ashbury Streets, which is sort of like the center of the area that bears its name. Immediately I knew I would like the place. It's funky and weird and full of all sorts of stuff that some would consider strange. There are people playing music on the corners and looking for tips. There are some homeless-looking folks just hanging around and checking things out, with a sign in front of them asking for donations. There are a lot of people sitting in coffee shops or cafes. In many ways, it's like any American city these days, actually.
Coming from Austin, which is proudly "weird", I enjoyed the area a lot. I will admit that it's not a huge destination for photographic purposes, but considering I love to shoot a lot of randomness in my travels (signs, graffiti, etc), this area clearly fit in that category. It was fun and what I would consider an interesting diversion from chasing the "big stuff".
Yes, there are many other spots that you "HAVE TO SHOOT" when in San Francisco - the city is full of them, really (Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge, Ferry Building - to name a few). But if you have some spare time and are interested in spots that are a little different, Haight Ashbury fits the bill perfectly. It seemed like the perfect place to wander with a camera, and I can imagine some would enjoy the shopping there too. Or just fueling up in a cafe and people-watching.
I spent about an hour wandering around here and shooting, and then took off on foot to the Palace of Fine Arts, which was a hell of a walk, honestly. Man, that town is bigger than it looks on Google Maps! Well at least I got in some exercise. I arrived there at about sunset, and have some lovely shots from there coming up next week. See you then!
And as a side note, I shot everything in San Francisco this time with the 28mm f/2 prime lens attached to my lovely Sony A7II. That 28mm prime is really a wonderful lens, capturing great detail and being just wide enough without being too wide. I used it exclusively on both this trip and my recent trip to New York, and am really impressed. It's perfect as a walking-around lens for general purpose use. Small, light and capable - perfect for travel!