Thursday, September 6, 2018

Colors of San Francisco: Photographs of a few Iconic Landmarks in the City by the Bay

In early July, our family enjoyed a week-long vacation in San Francisco, California.  I spent the early mornings (while the rest of the family was catching up on sleep), out photographing some of the iconic landmarks in this beautiful city.  Last month I posted a group of my photographs of the old growth redwood trees in Muir Woods National Monument (just over the Golden Gate Bridge, in Marin County), from this trip. 

As I have lived only on the east coast of the United States, I am certainly not an expert on San Francisco.  That said, I have developed a few favorite photography locations.  I have listed them below, followed by some of my photographs from the trip.  I'm sure this list will expand during future trips.

1.  Fort Point.  This location offers a wonderful view of the Golden Gate Bridge, with the Marin Headlands in the background.  The early morning light brought out the wonderful red tones in the iconic bridge.

2.  Lombard Street.  Known as the "crookedest street in the world", the combination of red bricks, lovely flowers, bends in the road, interesting architecture, and a great view of Telegraph Hill make this a lovely place for photographers.  Beware:  If you are not there very early, you will be surrounded by tourists.  Also, it is very steep, so wear good walking shoes if you intend to walk along the "crookedest" section.  In the early morning, I was able to park near the top without any problem.

3.  Alamo Square Park.  The park is set on a hill, and offers a wonderful view of the city's famous "Painted Ladies" (a group of beautifully painted historic Victorian houses), with the city's skyline in the in background.  I took my photograph below in the evening, as the last light of the day was hitting the skyline, including the Transamerica Pyramid.

4.  The Embarcadero (near the Ferry Building).  This waterfront area has great view of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, the Ferry Building, the "Cupid's Span" statue, and the skyline, among other things.

5.  Fisherman's Wharf.  Much of the day and evening, this area is jam-packed with tourists.  In the early morning, its a great spot to shoot colorful fishing boats, as well as the the sea lions at Pier 39. One word of advice regarding the sea lions - We were there in early July, there were only a couple of sea lions (a fraction of the number we remembered from a prior San Francisco trip).  We learned that the sea lions migrate each year from approximately late June until early August.

6.  Baker Beach.  This is another iconic spot to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge, with a sandy beach and rock formations in the foreground, and the Marin Headlands in the background.  I went there just after sunset, and the bridge was backlit, which contributed to a lovely, peaceful feeling.  My guess is that in the late afternoon, there would be more light on the bridge, making it a bit more dramatic and colorful.

7.  The Palace of Fine Arts - The historic architecture, pond and variety of flowers make this a very interesting spot to photograph. The light was poor during my morning visit, so I did not include any of my shots with the building reflected in the pond.

8.  Battery Spencer***, in the Marin Headlands.  You may notice that I have not included any photographs from this iconic location, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin County side.  I had made an early morning trip there, hoping to photograph a sunrise.  A few things folks should be aware of:  a) While I was at Battery Spencer, it was extremely cold - noticeably colder than it had been in San Francisco moments earlier or in Muir Woods, about an hour later; b) It was extremely windy, and there were frequent, significant gusts of wind - e.g. a gust blew over my sturdy tripod (messing up both my camera and lens) and another gust blew my baseball cap off my head; 3) While there may be other viewing areas from the Marin Headlands that are more accessible, Battery Spencer is a fairly steep walk from the parking area.

Golden Gate Bridge at Sunrise, from Fort Point.

Golden Gate Bridge in early morning light, from Fort Point.

Flowers on Lombard Street - "The Crookedest
Street in the World"
Lombard Street:  Flowers on House.
Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower, from top of Lombard Street.
Painted Ladies, with the San Francisco Skyline
(a.k.a. "Postcard Row" of Victorian Homes, as seen from
Alamo Square Park, just before sunset.
San Francisco City Hall, on the evening of July 4th.
Palace of Fine Arts, with Lily of the Nile flowers.
The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, in early
morning light, as seen from the Embarcadero.
Cupid's Span statue and San Francisco Skyline in early
morning light(near the Embarcadero).
The Ferry Building, in morning light, from Pier 7.
Fishing boats at Fisherman's Wharf, in early morning light.
Italianate-Style House on Dolores Street.
The Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach,
just after sunrise.

Finally, here are a few random restaurant, coffee and entertainment suggestions for fellow-tourists, as well as locals.  Thank you to our older son, Alex, for most all of these food-related suggestions.

Tony's Pizza Napoletana - 1570 Stockton St.  Not only are their regular pizzas delectable, but they make their own gluten-free crusts (one of our sons has celiac), which are excellent.

Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen - 401 Valencia St.  Good arepas are hard to find, and these are really delicious.

Smitten Ice Cream - 587 Hayes St. - Each order is churned in front of you, and frozen using liquid nitrogen!  Don't worry - its not just a gimmick.  The ice cream is really tasty.

Salt & Straw Ice Cream - 432 Octavia St. They have a wonderful and unique variety of delicious flavors.

Philz Coffee - I quickly became a fan of their iced mint mojito.  Each cup is made individually, as a "pour over."

Marrakech Magic Theater, starring Jay Alexander - A super fun evening of "magic, mentalism and comedy."

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