Blue hour at Ghirardelli

Who wants some chocolate?

Ok, now that I have your attention, I have to admit that I don't have any chocolate to share with you today.  Sorry about that!  But, I do have some wonderful photos from Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco, so hopefully you enjoy that just as much.  Well, maybe not as much as some of that tasty goodness, but close.

Anyways, I was in San Francisco a few weeks ago, and had some spare time one evening to get out and shoot.  It's a town that's wonderful just to wander in, but I had a few things in mind that I wanted to shoot.  The problem was, the weather didn't look like it was going to cooperate.  It had been raining most of the day.

I got out at about 6pm, and walked over to the Ferry Building, which is one of my favorite places in San Fran.  It was the ideal place to start, because of the rain, but after a short while the tripod police had other ideas and I was done inside.  Luckily, the rain had stopped.

I crossed my fingers and started walking down the Embarcadero.

I spent the next two hours shooting all the way down the Embarcadero, pointing my camera at this and that and in lots of nooks and crannies, until I reached Ghirardelli Square.  It was fabulous.  Time well spent.  Plus I got some exercise.  :-)

By the time I got to Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf, sunset was waning and the blue hour was coming on strong.  Sometimes you can tell it's just going to be one of those nights.  This one definitely was.  The light was fabulous.

I was in full-on photo-robot mode.  Scan the scene, decide on a shot, set it up, fire the brackets, and move on.  All done in quick succession.  All done with a big smile on my face.

So by the time I got to Ghirardelli Square, it was deep into blue hour and darkness was falling.  I had to hurry.  I fired away and grabbed all the shots you see here today, and then I was done.  Spent.  Exhausted.  And it started to rain again.

I opened my umbrella and strolled casually back over to Boudin Bakery, ate a sourdough bread bowl full of clam chowder, and called it a night.  

Amboise from above

Looking down upon a quaint French village...

I know that may sound a bit like the start of a fairy tale, but it's not.  Somehow the words "quaint French village" conjure up the idea of a story to me, a little fairy tale of sorts.  Maybe it does for you, too.

I must say that when I first arrived in Amboise, and started driving over the bridge which crossed the River Loire, staring at the Chateau d'Amboise towering over the town from the top of it's hill - it sure seemed like a fairy tale village.  It still feels that way, almost a year later.

I always think of myself as a person who would prefer the city.  Yes, I love remote spots and landscapes as much as anyone, but when I think about loving somewhere...well, I lean towards being a city and enjoying all it has to offer.

But after just a few minutes in Amboise, I was ready to throw all that nonsense out the window and live there, just relaxing at the cafes and breathing in the clean French air all day (yes, there were people smoking but come on, that's ruining my visualization!).

One afternoon we clambered up the long, steep walkway to enter the Chateau d'Amboise and see things from a different perspective.  Being the photo-addicted person that I am, I ran around like a ferret on a double espresso and took loads of shots.  

At some point I realized that if I got up to the edge of the retaining wall, I could see down over the town, so that's what you are seeing in the images today.  These are just views that I saw while leaning over the wall at various points around the perimeter.  Such a view!  Isn't this a storybook village?  Don't you want to go now?  I sure do want to return!

Posted on April 21, 2014 and filed under Amboise, Europe, France, HDR, Travel.

Three pubs in Dublin

Warning!  This post might make you thirsty.

I do love me some Irish pub.  Of course I make the requisite visits inside when I can <ahem>, but most of the time I am shooting these from the exterior.  But that's ok, as I find there is a lot of character among Irish pubs.  

One of my favorites to shoot is the Oliver St. John Gogarty, which you see below.  It's a short walk from The Temple Bar, which is the most famous (and most photographed, at least by me!) Irish pub in a town that's bursting with them.  I love all those flags, and have shared many a photo of this place here in the past (and likely will do again).

Isn't this a fun looking Irish pub?

This next one is the Bison Bar, which from the outside is pretty easy to miss.  So easy, in fact, that I have missed it many times though it is next door to my normal hotel there.  But on my last visit we ended up there after some shooting (and while waiting for the light to change).  I'm really glad we did!  I thought this interior was really interesting.

I loved this wooden interior, and that light reflecting across the floor.

And lastly this is The Dame Tavern, which I have never been in (but there's always hope!).  We were wandering around doing the photography thing and when I saw this scene with all the kegs stacked outside, I just really liked here it is.

See?  There's another pub just over there!  LOL

Dublin is really a wonderful town which I immensely enjoy wandering in.  I find there is a lot to aim the camera at, and there's always a pub to rehydrate and rest in.  Good times!

Posted on April 17, 2014 and filed under Dublin, Europe, HDR, Ireland, Travel.

Sunset in Bayeux

Bayeux, France is a nice little town in Normandy - a great base for all the area has to offer!

We came across Bayeux, France by accident when planning our trip over there.  This was last summer (I have mentioned that I am a bit behind, haven't I?) and we were taking a family trip through London (quickly) and then on to France.  There's so much to see in any country really, and France is no different.  When you are planning a trip, it's easy to think "we are going to see EVERYTHING", but reality is often quite different.

Anyways, one thing for sure on our agenda was a weekend in the Normandy area.  Call us tourists if you want to, but we really wanted to see the American Cemetery there (and we did).  But all the guide books offered so many choices in terms of what town to stay in that we ended up just picking Bayeux based on proximity and size.  It looked like it was pretty close, and it was a decent-sized town.  I knew I would be driving, and we wanted to be reasonably close.  Turns out it was a great choice.

One of the quaint little streets by our hotel in Bayeux.  We ate at one of those places.

We arrived on a Friday evening, later than expected.  We had started that morning in London.  We hopped on the Eurostar from St. Pancras International Station, which took us in about 2 hours straight to Paris, after passing through the Chunnel (which is fun).  In Paris we had to take a taxi to a different train station and then get in line and buy tickets for the smaller train that would take us to Caen.  In Caen, we had a rental car waiting.  Well, waiting is not totally accurate.  We ended up having to wait for a couple of hours to get the car, hence the later arrival in Bayeux.

Sometimes the light gets all awesome, and you can't find a good spot.  It happens.

I was tired but undaunted, and after getting settled in and having a meal, I wandered the streets for a few while the rest of the family wisely chose to take it easy.  It's tiring to spend 12 hours traveling by way of two taxis, two trains, and a rental car, but the show must go on.  Or more specifically, there were photos to be taken, so I went to take them.

As you can see, the sunset ended up being pretty stellar, but being unfamiliar with the town I was stuck wandering the streets without a high vantage point to shoot from. Oh well, at least I got some shots, and at least I was in France doing it! 

Posted on April 15, 2014 and filed under Bayeux, Europe, France, HDR, Sunset, Travel.

20 Minutes in the Ferry Building

When in San Francisco, be sure and see the Ferry Building!

The Ferry Building is one of my favorite spots in San Francisco, a town which is full of awesome spots.  But I do just love this thing.  It's a beautiful building, and being a fan of architecture, I just love all the lines.  It's a great subject for us photo-addicted types.

The funny thing is that even though I shoot there on many of my San Francisco trips, I never really tire of it.  It's just one of those places that has captured me in some way.  It's sort of like The Temple Bar in Dublin, Ireland.  I could shoot it every day and never really get bored.

So on my most recent trip to San Francisco, which was a couple of weeks ago, I got out to shoot at about 6pm one day.  The trouble was that it was raining, and raining hard.  So I figured if I could brave the 10 minute walk from my hotel, I would be fine, since I was going to be inside the thing.

So I walked down Market Street and made my way inside.  By the way, the choice of 6pm was on purpose.  I tend to try and shoot places like this when there are likely to be fewer tourists around.  I have shot the Ferry Building at 7am before and found it mostly empty, and I was satisfied with the thin crowds at 6pm on this day as well.

However, I was not satisfied with the Security Guards.  Like I said, I have shot here several times over the years, and never been hassled at all.  That is, on the ground floor I have never been hassled.  I have also ventured upstairs before and was immediately told by Security that I could only shoot handheld there.

But down on the ground floor, I have never once had an issue, until this visit.  Literally as soon as I set up the tripod and started framing my first shot, I was approached by 2 security guards, coming at me from both directions.  I knew how this was going to end.

They informed me that it was "dangerous" to have a tripod there, but it was ok to shoot without one.  I asked if they were concerned about someone tripping over the tripod leg, and they said yes.  I made a show of looking around for people, but only saw them, me, and a couple of folks further away.  Seemed pretty low risk.

I played nice though, and told them I was from out of town, and would really enjoy shooting this place because it is so beautiful.  I guess my charms worked, because they actually said I could take a few photos, as long as I was quick and was careful with the tripod.

So of course I fired that first one, moved on, fired again, moved on and fired again...until I got towards the other end of the grand hallway.  At that point, they both circled back towards me and I knew it was time to leave.  I told them I was packing up (while my last shot fired, LOL) and heading out.

Luckily, it only took that 20 or so minutes to get all the shots I wanted, and when I walked outside the rain had stopped.  I spent the next two hours walking down the Embarcadero, all the way to Ghirardelli, firing away happily the whole time.  And, I got lucky with some great skies and an amazing sunset and blue hour.  I'll share those when they are ready!

Thank you for stopping by today!