Twinkling Reflection!

Location: Treasure Island, CA
Time: Twilight
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM | 28mm | f/16 | 79s | ISO 100

Last year when we went to Treasure Island, we basically stood in the parking lot for a couple of hours to shoot the SF Skyline. Even though one of our friends gave specific details for 4 or 5 other locations, we really didn’t experiment. One of the guys had to go back to work so we weren’t planning on trying to find different locations. Moreover, we have heard stories after stories about Photographers getting robbed at Treasure Island. So, we definitely didn’t want to go to places that required a lot of walking or to any sketchy looking spots.

After we came back from that trip, the friend that didn’t make it asked why we didn’t shoot the Bay Bridge reflection. We didn’t know where that location was. Apparently, that location was right across the street from the parking lot 🙂

We decided that we needed to make a trip back to Treasure Island and hit as many spots as we can. We’ve been planning for a while but things didn’t quite line up. Since this was primarily SF Skyline and Bay Bridge, we really didn’t worry about waiting for the perfect weather conditions. We decided to go before Sunrise and shoot during Twilight and Blue Hour. We were hoping that we wouldn’t get mugged during the wee hours of the morning 🙂

So, around 3:15, one of my friend picked me up and we went to another friend’s office so we can all carpool from one location. We got there around 4:15 when it was still pitch black. The first spot we stopped this time was to shoot the Bay Bridge reflection. It was literally right across the street from the parking lot.

I took maybe 3 or 4 shots from this location. I really wish we stayed in this location and not worry about other locations. But, that’s not what we went there for. The goal was to hit as many spots as we could so we can scout what would work in what situations. The first couple of shots, I tried to shoot in Aperture Priority but that required me to stay around f/11 where I couldn’t be able to get crisp starburst. I am a sucker for starburst so I plugged my remote trigger and went to f/16 so I can get starburst.
In terms of post processing, it was pretty straight forward. Other than my normal workflow in Lightroom, all I did in Photoshop was to remove some distracting elements in the foreground.
Hindsight is 20/20! We should have stayed to shoot the reflection in blue hour as well as Sunrise. The other locations didn’t work as well as we hoped.

Golden Streaks!

Location: Battery Spencer, San Francisco
Time: Sunrise
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM | 16mm | f/16 | 10s | ISO 100

Another one of Escaype’s predictions that didn’t quite hold. This is the second time I am getting skunked in San Francisco. The first time was when we went to Fort Point & Fort Baker. We had some colors that day but not so much this time around.

So, Escaype came up with very high numbers for San Francisco; especially looking East. After debating whether or not to go and where to go, we decided to head to Battery Spencer. I have been to Battery Spencer once but Mr. Karl showed up. We woke up at the wee hours of the morning to head to SF but fog completely covered the Golden Gate Bride. We then decided to head to Mt. Tam to shoot the fog. It worked out well as we got some good shots of the fog from Mt. Tam and while coming back, fog cleared enough for us to get some good shots from Hawk Hill.

When the opportunity to go back to Battery Spencer presented itself, I wanted to take advantage. I woke up early in the morning and headed to pick one of my photography buddies from his office. We then drove to Battery Spencer together. When we got there, we realized that the parking lots were closed. Not just the one close to Battery Spencer but pretty much everywhere in that hill. We even went all the way up to Hawk Hill. Our only option was to park at the lot below and hike up. Not something we planned or were looking forward to but you gotta do what you gotta do to get the ‘money’s shot 🙂

We parked at the lot below and there was a trail going up but it didn’t say Battery Spencer. Even though we had a feeling that it will end up at Battery Spencer, we didn’t want to take a chance. So, we walked around on the road to Battery Spencer. On the way up, we did see the trail coming up.

When we got to Battery Spencer, it was the end of Blue Hour. We started shooting and it started drizzling. We had very little hope of seeing any color. We got confirmation from Escaype that it might not happen after all. We still waited for 30 minutes or so and continued shooting in the rain. Absolutely no action. It was grey, grey, and more grey. On one hand, it allowed me to try my new 16-35 f/2.8 lens but on the other hand, I was worried about using my new lens in the rain.

There was enough rain to cause some of the photos to be unusable. After spending about 30 minutes trying to shoot from different spots, we decided that it was time to head back. We hiked back through the trail, which was definitely shorter than the path we took up. We were both disappointed but there isn’t a whole lot you can do. Predictions were high but it didn’t hold. Hopefully, there isn’t too many of these with Escaype. It kinda defeats the purpose of getting Escaype. But, there is only so much a weather forecasting model can do.

When I got back home, as expected, several of the photos were unusable due to rain spots. Many of the spots were right on the Golden Gate Bridge and cleaning it in PS would have taken a long time. So, I found about half a dozen shots that were ‘clean’. I tried my best to bring some color but there wasn’t a whole lot I could do. I liked this shot where the car streaks covered the length of the Golden Gate Bridge. Wish I had a vibrant sky in the background to go with this but it is what it is.

 

Golden Twinkle!

Location: Fort Baker, Saulsalito
Time: Twilight
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 | 17mm | f/11 | 30s | ISO 400

This was shot the same day as my shot from Fort Point (The Reflecting Tower!). As I mentioned in that post, while we got to Fort Point, there were no clouds behind Golden Gate Bridge. After waiting for a few minutes, we realized that clouds were moving in. So we hung around trying different compositions. what we realized was that clouds started clearing. We then debated for a few minutes as to whether we should stick around at Fort Point or if we should head over to the other side of the Bridge to Fort Baker. We were going back & forth. We finally decided that we’ll try our luck at Fort Baker.

We were driving to Fort Baker and a thought came as to whether we should check out Hawk Hill. We decided to stick to our plan and head to Fort Baker. When we got to Fort Baker, we did see a lot of clouds. So we were hopeful that it was going to be a great show in terms of the clouds getting lit up with beautiful colors.

We looked around to see where to setup our tripod and decided that setting it up at the edge of the pier would be the best bet. We were taking shot after shot while hoping for the colors to show up anytime now. Unfortunately, it never happened. Even though Escaype predicted that it would be good, it ended up being a bust. I still got some very good shots during the Sunset time frame that I’ll post soon.

After the lights came on, I decided to try a different vantage point. So, I moved to this location and started experimenting. My goal was to get a good starburst of the Golden Gate lights. It took a couple of failed attempts. I kept changing my settings to get the right exposure. I didn’t have my remote trigger so I wasn’t able to use Bulb mode. I had to stay within 30 seconds exposure so I bumped my ISO to 400. At f/11, I was surprised to see how well the starbursts came out.