San Fran Silhouette

Location: Treasure Island, CA
Time: Sunset
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 | 20mm | f/16 | 2s | ISO 100

A few of us decided to head to Treasure Island to shoot the SF Skyline. I have never been there before and I was looking forward to the trip. Getting anywhere in the Bay Area during peak hours is a challenge due to traffic congestion. Going to SF or through SF is even more challenging as there’s heavy traffic. It took us a while to get to Treasure Island but we got there well ahead of Sunset.

One of our friends who couldn’t make the trip with us gave us several locations to checkout. The first location was on lot of the hill overlooking the Bay Bridge and SF Skyline. We drove to the location and realized the road leading to the spot was closed. So, we came down to the parking lot where there’s clear view of the Bay Bridge and SF Skyline. We had to wait for about 10-15 minutes for parking but we got lucky. I thought no one would leave right at Sunset but someone actually did.

We decided to basically shoot from the parking lot as the view was spectacular. We decided to go to other locations after we were done getting our shots from the parking lot. Sunset was happening as we pulled into the parking lot so we started shooting right away. I started shooting hand-held but the shutter speed was going down rapidly as light was fading.

I setup my tripod and decided to do a long exposure to smooth the water out. I didn’t go for an ultra long exposure; just enough to smooth the water. There were some clouds but not to cover the entire frame. I initially took shots of the Golden Gate Bridge with the setting Sun but it didn’t work out as well as I hoped. Golden Gate Bridge was too far away.

So, what I decided to do was to just focus on the SF Skyline ignoring both the Golden Gate Bridge as well as the Bay Bridge. I did get some shots with the Bay Bridge and SF Skyline but that comp was a bit challenging as there were lot of distracting elements to the left of the Bay Bridge.

Since Sun was already behind the horizon, SF Skyline was silhouetted, which looked attractive to me. I was hoping to see and include a boat in my frame but nothing sailed by.

We stayed for about an hour (well past blue hour) to get the SF Skyline all lit up. After we were done at the Parking Lot, we tried to head to other locations but all that needed us to walk about 15-20 minutes and the areas was very shady so we skipped. One location was on the other side of the parking lot but we didn’t know 😦

From a processing stand-point, it was pretty straight-forward. Apart from my usual workflow in Lightroom, all I did was dodge & burn (primarily burn) a bit.

Week 18 – Urbanscape

The Challenge for Week 18 of my 52 Week Landscape Composition Photo Challenge is Urbanscape/Cityscape. Over the course of last year, I have done some cityscapes. I definitely enjoy shooting cityscapes. Somehow the city lights portrays the hustle and bustle of the city life. Even though I have tired shooting SF Cityscape a couple of times, I’d say I have not been very successful. I did get one shot during a sunrise visit to Embarcedero but my trip to Treasure Island wasn’t very successful.

When I thought about this challenge, the first thought that came to mind was to head to SF to shoot the beautiful skyline. Another thought was to shoot the Boston Skyline.  The challenge was Urbanscape so I decided to do a bit of research on what is a definition of an Urbanscape. What I have realized is that Urbanscape; at least Urbansacpe Photography is a bit difficult to define as it sits between a number of different genres of photography – cityscapes, architecture, street photography, etc.

So, I was looking for a creative way to take on this week’s challenge. When I wen to Sierra Open Preserve in San Jose, I knew that the city lights will come on right after golden hour. I knew I wanted to take a shot of the hustle & bustle of Silicon Valley from the top of the hill. Although, I didn’t know what my comp would be.

For the majority of the time while at Sierra Open Preserve, my goal was to find a good comp for Sunset. After the Sun set behind the horizon, I started looking for comp ideas for the Urbanscape challenge.

I saw this scene where the sky was burning on one side and beautiful colors were happening on the others. The foregound was beautiful greenery and middle-ground was the Silicon Valley citylights. Not a ‘textbook’ definition of Urbanscape but to me, this definitely fits the bill. The busyness of the city can be seen from the hill top, where it was so peaceful and serene. It not only shows the city life but also that calm and serenity is just minutes away. I liked the yin/yang relationship here.

 

Midnight Reflections!

Location: Cambridge,  MA
Time: Midnight
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM | 10mm | f/16 | 120s | ISO 100

I have shot from this location before. Last November, I was in Cambridge for a couple of days for work and decided to take my camera. I have always thought about taking my camera with me when I travel but never did. When I was in Cambridge last November, I went out to the Charles River, which is literally less than 5 minutes walk from my hotel. I took several shots from this location but nothing turned out well. It was all either blurry or only parts of the photo turned out sharp.

I used a tripod that wasn’t quite sturdy so I attribute a lot of the not so sharp photos to bad equipment. To be honest, I don’t think it was all on the tripod. I don’t think I spent time to focus on the areas I wanted to be tack sharp. I didn’t know how to do focus stacking. I used auto focus and let the camera do it’s thing hoping it would get some sharp photos. Didn’t work out.

This time, I decided to take my go-to tripod. It is a full-sized tripod but folds pretty compactly. I wasn’t sure if I’d have any issues taking it on my carry on. Luckily, I didn’t have any issues. When I got to Cambridge, I was pretty tired. After spending some time at the bar, I debated going to the room to sleep or go out a take a few shots. I decided to go out and take a few shots.

I went to this spot where I knew I can get the skyline as well the boats docked in the Charlesgate Yacht Club. I tried a couple of shots trying to see what shutter speed and aperture would work out well. I was trying to stay within 30 seconds for the first few shots. It didn’t come out well. I then remembered that I had the remote trigger with me. So, I decided to do a 2 minute exposure at f/16. I took several shots manually focusing on key areas – one for the boats up front, one for the buildings on the left, and one for the buildings on the right.

The shots looked good on the camera LCD. But I never trust that as it can be deceiving. I wanted to go for a sunrise shoot but didn’t have time. I took a couple of shots from my window and headed to work.

When I came back home, I blended the shots in PS and the result turned out well. I think some areas can be sharper but overall, I like how this turned out.