I had less than 24 hours in San Francisco and three shots I wanted to get before I left. For these shots the weather had to be just right too which is the most challenging part of the bay. You either get fog when you don’t want it or you get clear blue skies when you want clouds. I’m one of those people that are usually pretty unlucky when it comes to weather but I think the secret is that you need to visit places more than once to really get the conditions right. Usually my first trip to a location is just scouting and then my brain can dream up the shot I really want to take. My other ideas sometimes come and the perfect location just has to be found later.
What were my three shots you ask?
Cypress Tree Tunnel with light rays
To get those light rays fog is needed and on the morning we shot there was not a cloud in the sky and no fog to be seen. It was really disappointing but I took some fun road shots anyway. I tried to do some other creative stuff with the trees and framing but the sun came up and the shadows were crazy harsh and I wasn’t really liking it anymore so we had to run onto our next stop.
Golden Gate Bridge with low fog
I was so worried that we wouldn’t have the fog at the bridge since there wasn’t any fog at the tree tunnel but boy was I wrong. There was so much fog you couldn’t even see the bridge. It was totally socked in. We sat for several minutes and wandered around and it didn’t look like it would lift at all so we decided to move on to the next stop and hope that the fog had dissipated a bit for the way back and out of town.
Palace of Fine Arts with hat
It was still pretty early when we went to the palace which is great when you want to get a shot without people in it. I did have to wait for awhile to get multiple shots but I walked away with three compositions that I really liked and got out right before two tour buses came in. I call that a win! If the fog hadn’t been so thick maybe it would have been better but the fog always adds a bit of mystery to a photo so I usually don’t mind it.
Back to the bridge we went in hopes to get THE shot. The good news was that the fog had lifted some but not totally. I was able to find the right spot to get the photo about 90% there from what I had in my mind. The only thing I wanted that wasn’t right was the tip of the bridge being a little less hazy from the fog. Other that that I am so happy with what I was able to create with just a little photoshop work on the bottom of the image.
The bonus shots would have been some cool street views with the trolley or lombard street. Instead we did the bridge at sunset and the pier at night which was a great idea that I hadn’t originally thought of. I’m not usually one who thinks of city shots so it was nice to have some direction from friends and a couple hours to meet up with them.
Tips for shooting in San Francisco
- When you are shooting in San Francisco always have a buddy or three. There’s been a lot of stolen gear and it’s not just folks being silly.
- Consider taking out your memory card when you aren’t shooting and carry that in your pocket.
- Never leave your gear in the car. If you have to, don’t leave it uncovered.
- Make sure your gear is insured the right way. If you have sold anything from your photography you are considered a business in the eyes of your insurance agent. Business coverage is different than your home owners or renters insurance.
- Ask locals if the area you want to photograph is safe or if there’s been any break ins or shootings (and I don’t mean with your camera).
- Stop and get a fast pass before you cross any of the bridges with fees. It’s WAY easier than dealing with the tolls. We ended up having the pay the Golden Gate Bridge twice because there’s no one to talk to and show them that you already paid when they send you things in the mail. You could also order the pass online ahead of time.
If you want to learn how to take photos or edit like me, reach out! I’m starting to offer one on one workshops. If you just want to buy a print, that’s ok too!