49 Mile Scenic Drive - Photography Bucket List

Originally Published February 15, 2013

The 49 Mile Scenic Drive in San Francisco is covered with many popular points of interest for tourists and photographers alike. While I haven't done the drive, over time I have unknowingly stopped at a few choice spots. I intend for this post to be a living document: Updated continually as I photograph new locations around SF.

1. Golden Gate Bridge

This Is My Photo Of The Golden Gate Bridge. There Are Many Like It But This One Is Mine.

Don't Lick The Lens

Nocturnal tourists at the Golden Gate Bridge Visitor Center

Golden Gate Bridge and Fort Point

Surfing at Fort Point

SF Museum of Modern Art

Chinatown

Sea Lions of Pier 39

Inside Coit Tower

Coit Tower seen from the Bay Bridge

Location: 1 Telegraph Hill Blvd

7. Ferry Building

Port of San Francisco, The Ferry Building

More mature post processing done on this photo

Buddha Statue in the Japanese Tea Garden.

Palace of Fine Arts

Crissy Field from Torpedo Wharf

San Francisco Bay Bridge seen from Coit Tower

This concludes the first iteration of the bucket list. Eleven out of ~sixty (~60!) notable places in San Francisco. My goals for my next trip to SF include Twin Peaks and the ruins of Sutro Baths.

New Additions: April 4th, 2014

12. California Academy of Sciences

Main Entrance - California Academy of Sciences

Huge plexiglass wall of the Steinhart Aquarium

The Peace Pagoda in Japantown, SF

One of many colorful shops in Japantown, SF

Japantown is host to the SF Cherry Blossom Festival

Union Square during the Google+ Photowalk

Hearts of San Francisco at Union Square

The San Francisco Skyline at Treasure Island

Bliss Dance and the SF Skyline and Bay Bridge at night

16. North Beach

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Waterfall in Yerba Buena Gardens

St. Patrick's Cathedral across Mission St from Yerba Buena Gardens.

Location: 750 Howard St

Crossing The Bay Bridge

I had the opportunity to go to the California Academy of Sciences this past week (more photos to come), and I didn't have to drive. Yay! Armed with my Lumix GX-1 and a 32GB memory card and three fully charged batteries, I could shoot away on the drive there and still have storage and juice left for the main destination.

Coit Tower atop Telegraph Hill

The first gem among the Bay Bridge photos is of Coit Tower and Telegraph Hill. The foreground is populated by the Piers along the Embarcadero. One can even see the San Francisco Belle, a large paddlewheel ship that functions as a restaurant. In the background is the North Tower of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands, with Sausalito on the right.

Shooting from a moving car is a new experience. I'm usually the driver, so I don't have much opportunity to sightsee, much less operate a camera. I knew I needed a high shutter speed, so I maxed out the GX-1s shutter at 1/4000 of a second. I raised the ISO to 500 and shot with the kit lens at f/5.6. At that distance, practically everything is at infinity, which is what the autofocus locked onto.

Downtown San Francisco

The above photo is of the Ferry Building and the SF skyline. I decided to leave some of the bridge in this crop for two reasons: To show where it was taken and to give space around the bottom of the Ferry Building. It would do no good to have it sitting at the very bottom of the frame.

A bridge under fluffy white clouds

Just leaving Treasure Island, the city skyline is distant. One can make out Sutro Tower on the left and the Golden Gate on the right. In the middle is the Transamerica pyramid. I like the main cable of the suspension bridge dominating the upper left and I like the door mirror included. It adds context. I could have gotten better compositions  of the skyline by walking across the bridge, but getting out wasn't an option at the time.

Making Magic - A Sunset with the Herons

Continuing with the HDR + Digital Blending technique, I went out again in between storms to take some shots.

Nuclear blast? No, just a cloudy sunset.

The MeFOTO tripod performed really well on site as well as in post processing. Even after running 5 exposures through Photomatix and bringing the result into Pixelmator with one of the component photos did not need painstaking alignment. Especially since I didn't use a shutter release, and just held down the shutter button for seven auto bracketed exposures.

A composition with more context

Exploring Lightroom and Selective Black & White

I'm just a few weeks into using Adobe Lightroom and I am impressed by the power and flexibility of its tools. I find I'm getting more dynamic range and contrast from single RAW files, and powerful noise reduction without sacrificing much sharpness.

Selective Black & White, but not the usual way

In the above photo, I took color out of just the flower and left the surrounding vegetation green and yellow. Very often, photographers strip the color out of the periphery, leaving only the flower in color. However, I liked the crisp texture of the petals, their shape and the play of light and shadow.

One color to rule them all

Much of my ease and familiarity with using Lightroom so quickly is to the credit of Serge Ramelli, "a French photographer living in Paris". Serge hosts a biweekly podcast on YouTube for Lightroom, Photoshop and Photomatix.