Moonrise over the Golden Gate Bridge

•July 29, 2009 • 2 Comments

Not that long ago, I posted about the great views from Conzelman Road, especially at night. Well, to put the proverbial icing on the cake, how about a moonrise over the Golden Gate Bridge with San Francisco in the background?

When I tried this for the first time, it was truly spectacular. What I said in my earlier post about night photography from Conzelman Road applies here, too, especially the part about the gate being closed after sunset. This picture was taken from the stop at Battery Spencer because I wanted it to be dark enough and I had to wait for the moon to be in the perfect spot. By the time the conditions were right, the gate for Hawk Hill was long closed and locked.

You might wonder how I knew that the moon would be rising over the bridge that night. To be honest, I had some help from a photographer who, unlike me, knows what he is doing. Andre Gunther has a great website with lots of resources. If you are interested in photography, you should check out his blog and tutorials as well as his galleries. When I came across his post “Predict the moon for better photos“, I just had to try it. He explains it all in great detail and as you can see, it is working.

By the way, Andre also has another great blog called California Photo Scout where he reveals great photo opportunities in California. Not only that, he also gives you tips on taking photos, how to get to the location and other nearby attractions. You should definitely check it out.

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Predict the moon for better photos


Lands End, San Francisco

•July 22, 2009 • 2 Comments

Lands End trail is a nice trail in San Francisco. It’s great for evening hikes and perfect for watching the sunset. As an added bonus, it offers nice views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The picture above was taken from the viewpoint along the trail and it nicely shows the rugged coastline. It is hard to believe that you can find places like this in a city like San Francisco, but that’s what makes it so special.

This picture was taken from the viewpoint at Mile Rock Beach. There is a clearly marked turnoff from the trail to the beach. Just follow the stairs all the way down to reach the viewpoint. There you will also find the Mile Rock Labyrinth, which is pictured above. From the viewpoint you can also access the beach. It is very rocky and does not offer great views of the bridge, but it is nice for a short break.

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San Francisco and Golden Gate Bridge at Night

•July 14, 2009 • Leave a Comment

This is one of the classic views of San Francisco you shouldn’t miss. If you have limited time in the city, make sure it’s on your list. Driving up Conzelman Road in the Marin Headlands will surely be a highlight of your trip.

The views are truly amazing during the day and in almost any kind of weather. One of my favorite images is of the Golden Gate Bridge at dusk while the city is completely covered by fog.

However, my favorite time to come up here is at night. Seeing the Bridge lit up and reflected in the ocean while the city appears to be an endless sea of lights is really special.

If you want to take pictures at night, you have two options:

To photograph from Hawk Hill, where this picture was taken, you need to come around sunset time before it gets dark. On your way up you will notice a gate and a sign stating that the gate will be closed after sunset. Once it gets dark, park rangers will ask you to leave the area, so you will not have a lot of time to take your pictures. However, if you are prepared and ready to go, you will still be able to take a good number of pictures.

Your second option is to stop at one of the view points outside of the gated area further down the hill. Here you can take your time and no one will ask you to leave.

As the views are very different from each view point, I try to start at Hawk Hill. After the gate is closed, I head back down the hill and usually stop at one or two other points to take more pictures. A popular stop is Battery Spencer, but it is usually also very crowded.

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View from Mount Tamalpais

•July 8, 2009 • 2 Comments

Standing on top of Mount Tamalpais on a clear and sunny day can be a great experience. If you are lucky, you can see San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and even Mount Diablo.

The hikes in the park are great and the trail to the peak is especially rewarding. You feel like you are on top of the world (or at least the Bay Area).

A wide-angle lense is particularly useful for panorama shots but you can still get great results without one.

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Bay Bridge – Reflections

•June 30, 2009 • Leave a Comment

San Francisco’s waterfront along The Embarcadero is very popular for strolls and jogging. It also offers great views of the Bay.

This picture was taken from Rincon Park, located on The Embarcadero at the foot of Folsom Street. You can easily find it by spotting Cupid’s Span, a 60ft tall bow and arrow sculpture.

Should you be in the neighborhood, it’s worth a stop. It’s one of my favorite locations for taking pictures of the Bay Bridge and it also offers a unique view of the San Francisco Skyline.

Next to it is the Ferry Building, a great place to take a break and try out some of the small eateries. On Tuesdays and Saturdays you can also visit the Farmers Market, which offers a great variety of fresh local fair.

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San Francisco Skyline from Treasure Island

•June 23, 2009 • Leave a Comment

One of my favorite views of San Francisco’s skyline is from Treasure Island. As an added bonus you get to include part of the Bay Bridge into your pictures. When the conditions are right, you can take nice pictures during the day, but I really like this view the most at night.

From San Francisco you can get here by taking the Bay Bridge toward Oakland and using the Treasure Island exit. There is a viewing and parking area on the left shortly after you get off the bridge.

A tripod is a must for night photography and a wide-angle lense is really useful so that you can include as much of the skyline and the bridge as possible. I really wished I had one that day.

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Buckingham Fountain, Chicago

•May 19, 2009 • 2 Comments

Grant Park has seen many historical events, the latest being President Obama’s victory speech on election night in November 2008. But even without a grand celebration scheduled, Grant Park has much to offer. One example is Millennium Park, another is Buckingham Fountain.

The design of the fountain is based on one of the fountains in Versailles, but Buckingham Fountain far surpasses it in size. When the water is turned on in April, the fountain comes to life. Every hour, a water display is put on with water shooting high up in the air. When the conditions are right, you can even capture a rainbow over the fountain. (continued below…)

For many, the real show happens at night, when the water display is paired up with a spectacular light and music show. It usually starts around dusk, on the hour, and the last show begins at 10pm. If you want to capture this event, make sure to be there in advance so you can find a nice spot to set up your tripod. Especially during the summer and on weekends, locals and tourists tend to gather to enjoy the show. You either need to set up right in front of the fountain to avoid moving people in your long-exposure images or you can move farther away and include spectators, hoping that they don’t move around too much. I’ve tried both approaches and each yields nice results.

You will also have downtown Chicago as an impressive background. It is always a good idea to move around and try out different angles. For example, you can align different elements of the fountain with similar looking buildings in the background. The show lasts long enough to experiment and you can always stay for another one. Coincidentally, Grant Park is quite nice to just sit on a bench and relax for a change.

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