San Francisco Skylines
If you listen carefully you can hear it.... Humphrey Bogart in his best film-noir voice-over....
"They call her San Francisco... City by the Bay. She's taken many hearts... Poor saps, they think they left left'm, but they were stolen, every one."
Whether you are wandering around with flowers in your hair or down sitting on the dock of the bay one thing that San Francisco always seems to have at hand is a nice skyline. Let's explore a few of them.
The image at the top is a classic one. It has all of the elements... The bridge, the city inbetween the towers... all it is missing is the fog. This is a great place to see the city andtake a picture you should go and check it out. Here is how you get there. Cross the bridge North, take the second exit, the one that goes to Alexander Ave. but you want to turn left after you get off of the freeway and go under, as if you were headed back to San Francisco. before you get back to the bridge on ra
mp turn right and go up, up and up.
If you stop at the first overlook you will have the opportunity to take your version of this next picture. Go ahead, stop, get out of the car and walk out to the point. Don't be ashamed, get out your camera and take a picture, the bridge isn't shy it's had its picture taken hundreds of billions of times and your's is going to be unique. Heck, take a selfie, even.
At this point, most of the poeple get back into the car and head back across the bridge... On no, but not you... you are going to continue on and go up... all of the way up. But don't forget to stop, get out of the car and look around... the view keeps getting better. Take a quick hike up Slacker's Hill. Hawk Hill is the highest point and there is parking there... Get out hike around, take a bunch of pictures. You can't lose. Even if it is socked in with fog, you get points for exercize and get to experience the sound of the place. When you are done, keep driving forward into the Marin headlands... it is a neat area. There are opportunities for more hiking and a closed loop of a drive so you won't end up stranded in the wilderness.
Another great shot of downtown San Francisco is from Twin Peaks. Personally, I think it is a swell place in all weather, even dense fog... it can get pretty cool & breezy up there so be prepared particularly afterdark. Once you are there, you have quite a few different spots where you can get subtly different views. it's a great place for selfies.
How do you get there? If you are coming from downtown, head down Market Street. The Twin Peaks are right next to Sutro Tower so you can use it to guide you. Market street starts twisting around and changes its name to Portola Drive, which you might not notice. Right about the top there is the aptly named Twin Peaks Boulevard... that's where you turn!
If you are coming up from 280 Take Junipero Serra Blvd right when you get into the city (don't turn on to 19th ave) it will become Portola Drive and you turn left onto Twin Peaks Blvd. If you are coming from accross town then you probably know that Twin Peaks Blvd splits off of Clayton so you can take a 2-block detour and grab a cup of coffee or lunch at one of the nice Cole Valley bistros. Now that sounds like a good idea!
Once you are up there you don't have to point your camera downtown. Here is a shot to the North from the South peak. Early morning sky, with the Marin headlands behind the Golden Gate Bridge. Those twin spires that are just catching the light from the rising sun are St Ignatius Church by the University of San Francisco.
If you point your camera Westward you can not only see the Pacific Ocean but the neighborhood that runs along the the crest between Golden Gate Heights Park & Grand View Park. Twist a little further toward the South you can see this view of Edgehill Park. Each one of the hills has a different set of vistas and lost of opportunities to get pictures that are all your own. You should try to make the effort to get out of the parking lot and climb both of them. It's OK, you can get out of your car.
Weekends are more crowded up there. And if it is a holiday with fine weather... Well, you might be better to park on Marview way and walk over (but that's a secret, don't tell anyone).
You don't have to be there only when it is convenient. If you get there early enough you can have the place nearly all to yourself. If nothing else, the early morning crowd is interesting. Try not to wake people sleeping in their vehicles... It seems people still make out in their cars so you probably don't want to disturb them either. I was up there one morning and had the pleasure of watching a juvenile racoon fetching its breakfast from the trash bin. My, they can be picky eaters. Getting there early has other rewards as well... The picture to the right was taken about 4:00 am in June when I was setting up for a time lapse sequence.
About an hour later the sun had arrived and I was rewarded with this golden view of downtown with a gentle amount of fog gilding the air around the skyscrapers. If you think you want to take a picture with a specific event going on... like a sunrise or a marching band... it's always a good idea to arrive early. There is no "fashionablty late" in photography.
There are so many more locations where you can get an interesting view of shoot San Francisco that I will have to turn this into a series of articles.