Sunset at the Palace of Fine Arts

Such a beautiful spot in San Francisco!

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently spent some time in San Francisco and got out to shoot a decent amount, considering it was a fairly brief stay in the City by the Bay.  One destination I had in mind was the Palace of Fine Arts, which is the subject of today's post.

I had been there and photographed it way back in 2010 on my first photo outing in San Francisco, but I had arrived at midday and the light was very bright and pretty unforgiving.  I never really liked the shots all that much, and always told myself that if given the chance, I would return under better circumstances and reshoot the whole thing.

I finally got the chance.

On this day I had begun in Haight Ashbury and after a reasonably quick photo tour in that area, I set off on foot for the Marina District, which is where you will find the Palace of Fine Arts, nestled in front of a beautiful lagoon and just a short walk from the San Francisco Marina.  Heck, you're actually not far from the Golden Gate Bridge either.  So much awesomeness there!  

It was late afternoon when I left The Haight and I knew I had enough time to get to The Palace of Fine Arts on foot, assuming I didn't waste any time getting distracted - which is a pretty hard thing to do in San Francisco, actually.  There are a LOT of things to distract a photographer - and I'm easily distracted anyways!

So I hustled along and made good progress, until I got to The Presidio.  While I didn't spend much time chasing photos there, I did end up cutting through a field and clambering down a steep hill (marked with signs that warned me against walking there) and then over a stone wall.  It was not a graceful exit.  Let's call it a shortcut, and I had to take it because I could see the light was getting nice, and I still had a little bit of a walk to go.  You make rash decisions in times of need, right?  And I apologize if I trampled anyones plants!  :-) 

After that, it was a straight shot to my destination.

I arrived a few minutes later and was able to wander a little while I thought about the shots I wanted to take.  I had only taken my Sony 28mm f/2 prime lens on this trip, so it required some thought and planning to capture what I wanted to capture.  I wanted a few shots of the whole scene as well as some of the smaller details.  When you have a prime lens, you zoom in and out with your feet, so I did a lot of that.  It was fun.

I wandered in and around the structure for a bit, shooting this and that, and by the time the light got just right I was across the lagoon staring at the structure while the sun set behind it.  Timing was excellent  - way better than my previous visit in 2010 - and I am rather proud of a couple of these shots.  

The only "issue" per se is that thanks to all the birds that make this lagoon their home, there were about 300 million feathers and other things floating in the water.  While I could sit there in Lightroom and spend hour upon hour working to remove everything, I opted not to do so.  I took out the most distracting ones, but didn't have it in me to do any more.  Call me lazy if you will, but I generally refuse to spend more than 30 minutes on a photo, and even that is pushing it.

Every once in a while, I see a great photo online in which the photographer talks about spending 2-3 hours working on it, with more layers than the movie Inception.  I can completely understand and respect that someone wants to do that, but I can't help feeling like it's a waste of time for me.  I would much rather move on and process 10 other images in that amount of time.  I guess that's a personal thing.  Anyways, I digress.

a view that distracted me for a couple of minutes - can you blame me?  this was right after I scrambled out of the presidio area!

After getting all the shots I wanted here, I walked over to the Marina and got a few sunset shots as I continued my lengthy walk.  I skirted the edge of the water all the way to Fisherman's Wharf, which is where I found myself at blue hour.  I have shot blue hour there many times and absolutely love it, with all the great neon signs and lights on.  I just had to visit again.  Once darkness arrived, I decided I had better eat, so I popped into Boudin Bakery for a clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl and a couple of well-earned beers!  Damn, they were good.  :-)

I will return another time with photos from Fisherman's Wharf, as well as the rest of that evening, because I kept walking and shooting, eventually making it all the way back to my hotel on the other side of town.  And yes, this was the longest walk of my life, I think.  I have been using a Step Counter app on my phone (sort of like FitBit) to keep track of my activity level.  Here's a screenshot of the ground I covered that day.  Pretty impressive, right?  

And yes, the next morning my legs did not want to move!

That's almost 18 miles people!  Someone get me a beer!

So all in all, it was a very successful trip to San Francisco, photographically speaking.  I came away with about 1500 images, which is not a goal in and of itself (the quantity, that is).  While it's a loose sort of yardstick for letting me know if I did get out and shoot much, I am not hung up on quantity to the extent that I was earlier this year.

Am I going to keep firing away?  You bet!  I'm just no longer measuring the success of a photo outing on quantity.  I still take a lot of photos, but have slowed down somewhat in hopes of getting a better focus (no pun intended) on capturing the images that I think will serve the viewer the best.

That's it - thanks for stopping by today!

that is alcatraz island in the distance