Going prime-al in San Francisco

Going prime-al in San Francisco

Today I share some thoughts on a new lens - a prime lens, no less.  It's way out of character for me, but it's an awesome little tool to add to the arsenal.  Oh and did I mention it's a Leica?  Well, it is, sort of.  And it takes great photos.   I just show up and it does all the work.  Well, not exactly.  I do a little more than show up.  But hey, showing up is half the fun!  Click on in and check out 22 photos that I have for you today!

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Cupid's Span

Cupid's Span

Cupid's Span is an interesting (and large!) sculpture along the Embarcadero in San Francisco, CA - well worth a visit to this part of a fabulous city!

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Blue hour at Fisherman's Wharf

Blue hour at Fisherman's Wharf

I love San Francisco and find it to be a very beautiful town.  In the blue hour light after a good, solid rain...well, it's beyond beautiful - it's downright amazing!

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Sunset at Pier 39

I love San Francisco, and I love sunset.

It's so hard to predict what is going to happen at sunset on any given day.  I always look at the sky and the clouds (if there are any), and my mind starts wandering, or racing, depending on what I see.  If there are good clouds out, I get all excited thinking that I am going to have a fabulous sunset.  Then many times, it just fizzles and nothing exciting happens.

On the other hand, there have been plenty of times when it looks like a complete crap sunset, and something amazing happens and it gets all awesome on you!  Those are the best ones, since they come as a surprise.  Everyone like a surprise.  Well, a good surprise, anyways.

And that is exactly what happened on my recent trip to San Francisco.

It had rained a lot that day, and after work I got out to shoot, starting at the Ferry Building.  From there, I just wandered down the Embarcadero, taking all sorts of photos along the way.  I ended up at Ghirardeli Square during blue hour, which was great.

But a little while before that happened, I was walking past Pier 39 and the Fisherman's Wharf area.  The sunset was coming together and the flat, gray skies from earlier were just bursting with color.  It was great!

So I did what I always do - I aimed my camera at everything and fired away incessantly.  It was crazy but so much fun.  I was in a hurry since light can be so fleeting, and it seemed like there was something interesting to aim the camera at everywhere I looked.  This was San Francisco, after all, which is a gorgeous city.

Hope you enjoy these shots.  I still have many more to get to from that trip - it was very productive!


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.  



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!

Sunrise at the Ferry terminal

Catching the first ferry of the day in San Francisco!

San Francisco is a wonderfully beautiful town, whether you bring a camera along to document it or not (though I obviously recommend you do).  When I am there I try to shoot as much as possible, which is hard because I am always there on business.  But somehow, I find a way.  :-)

Actually, "the way" is that I normally get up early and wander the streets before I get busy with work.  That's ok with me.  Though I like my sleep as much as the next person, I like photography better, so I make sacrifices.  Isn't that why caffeine was invented anyways??

On the morning of this photo, I was wandering around the Ferry Building area (which in addition to being close to my normal hotel, is also my favorite building in SFO) and shooting away.  It's a great area because in addition to the Ferry Building, just a few steps away is a great spot to shoot the Bay Bridge from.  It's all good.  In fact, that's the Bay Bridge off to the right there.

So I fired away inside the Ferry Building way before anyone else showed up, and then as sunrise was coming together I popped out back for some of that nice morning light that I alway seem to find out West.  I saw this Ferry terminal and decided it would look cool to snap it with the great color and light...and then a guy walked up to buy a ticket.  I decided to take the shot anyways, and am glad that I did.  I feel like having him there gives it a little different feel.  What do you think?

Exploring Chinatown with my iPhone

Do you ever take a trip and use ONLY your iPhone?

I have done that at times, but not because I don't want to lug my full-frame NIkon around.  I've done it when I think there is absolutely no time for me to shoot on a trip, so I leave my big ole boy at home.  It sucks, but it happens.

Last week is a perfect example of this.  I work for a company based in San Francisco, and we had our annual kickoff last week, which is another way of saying that my days and night were all full.  But being who I am (and needing a little break one day!!) I slipped out for a little walk late one afternoon, and since we were in Union Square, I decided to head over to Chinatown for a little while.

If you haven't been, Chinatown is very interesting and a great place to walk around.  I have shot there once before, early one morning a year or so ago, and found it to be quite beautiful and interesting.  I hope to get back with my Nikon on a future trip.  So I wandered around the back streets and alleys, which I highly recommend doing, and also along the main drag, and took quite a few iPhone shots.

These are all single exposure iPhone pics (as opposed to shooting with ProHDR, which takes two exposures and combines them), and all are adjusted with Snapseed.  Snapseed is by far my favorite iPhoneography app, and you can see my quick review of it here.  I plan to write more about that later.  :-)

So, enjoy the pics and let me know if you have any questions!

Baker Beach

I went here for a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge...and saw lots of fog.

Haha, that happens in San Fran.  What can I do about it?  Just shoot away, fog or no fog, right?

My plan when I arrived here was to stick around and get some nice light around sunset, but with the fog dropping in so heavily, it never happened.  So instead I hung out, climbed some rocks, took some photos, and watched some of the tourists walking around...and enjoyed the heck out of it.

It's really a beautiful spot, whether it's foggy or not.  Someday I hope to get back there with the camera and try again, though I must admit the location isn't very convenient for my travels to San Fran, as I am usually stationed on the far other side of town, near the Bay Bridge (that other bridge in SFO).  And of course, that's why I usually end up with a lot of photos of the Bay Bridge.  I shoot what I can get to, in other words.

So, I will cross my fingers that someday I can get back here to Baker Beach and shoot sunset on the Golden Gate Bridge, because this is definitely a great place to be to see it!

Prowling around the Ferry Building

The Ferry Building is my favorite building in San Francisco!  What's yours?

I just love the Ferry Building, and try to visit each time I go to San Francisco (though sadly, I fail in this effort at times).  It's just such a compelling place, architecturally speaking.  The interior hallway (which you see here) is just rich in details, and the exterior has that big red neon sign out back, staring out over the Bay.  It's beautiful.  I wish I was there shooting it right now!

It also has a fabulous Farmer's Market a couple of days each week, filled with artisanal baked goods, cheeses, chocolates...and more!  It's all very yummy.

As far as photography goes, I try and get there in the morning before the crowds show up, since I like my shots essentially devoid of humans (though you can see one way in the distance in this shot).  In addition to the numerous stores in the building, there are also some business offices which are up on the second floor. 

I've been up there to shoot as well, and you get a great view down on this lower hallway.  But note they don't allow tripods on the 2nd floor, and there is a guard there as well.  Down below, I've never had an issue.

So if you visit SFO, be sure and swing by here early one morning and fire away!