A San Francisco Morning
In continuing this small San Francisco series, it’s about time I posted the shot that isn’t the one I really wanted to get. This is the closest I managed to get to that illusive shot. This particular photo doesn’t impress me since, without the ship, it really isn’t anything other than a photo of San Francisco that everyone has. Instead, the lesson I learned in acquiring this image will stay in my memory longer than the image itself.
To get the shot I really wanted, I planned, spent time in Google Earth picking the location, setting the sun angle and time-of-day, choosing the position on the hill and frame the shot with the 3D buildings turned on. Everything looked wonderful and sounded like a decent plan. The morning was forecast to be a rare sunny one, free of the fog that San Francisco is famous for. Additionally, I did some research on other photos with a similar angle. I saw several from other photographers a the correct location, so yes, it could be done. The idea was to have the bay bridge strongly prominent on the left side of the frame with the southern edge lit up by the sun.
The city would then appear where the last of the main cables joined with the island. The sun would to light the bridge up a nice gold-tone, and the white on the buildings would to catch the same beautiful glow.
That isn’t what happened. I live in San Jose, which is an hour drive away from San Francisco. This meant waking up and being on the road by 5am at the latest to catch the show. Again, this assumes I know exactly where I want to be and what I have to do in order to catch the 6:30am light. Yerba Buena Island is one tough tiny island to navigate on with its windy roads. To top it off, there is no parking. To get the angle, I would have had to hike about a half mile at the very least. Arriving at the island at 6am and then getting lost didn’t help matters.
Alas, I drove over to the Treasure Island portion where parking is plentiful and the angles are not. I settled for this shot which is a good reminder of how to better prepare next time I’m going to drive an hour away and a horrible hour for a 10 minute window of opportunity.
The last bit I learned was that sunrises are not nearly as cool as sunsets. No dust, no glory. I wonder when that volcanic dust from Iceland will reach the Bay Area.
Google Earth still seems like a great tool for planning a shoot. Here is the shot I ended up with as seen by Google Earth.