Photographing San Francisco Digital Field Guide

Sawle, Bruce

Published by Wiley
ISBN 10: 0470586842 / ISBN 13: 9780470586846
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Review: A compact, full-color companion guide to photographing San Francisco!

Whether using a full-featured compact camera or a high-end dSLR, this companion guide provides you with detailed information for taking stunning shots of beautiful San Francisco. Whether you aim to capture breathtaking photos of the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, crooked Lombard Street, infamous Alcatraz, or unique Victorian homes, this portable resource goes where you go and walks you through valuable tips and techniques for taking the best shot possible.

You'll discover suggested locations for taking photos, recommended equipment, what camera settings to use, best times of day to photograph specific attractions, how to handle weather challenges, and more. In addition, lovely images of San Francisco's most breathtaking attractions and recognizable landmarks serve to both inspire and assist you as you embark on an amazing photographic adventure!

  • Elevates your photography skills to a new level with photography secrets from professional photographer Bruce Sawle
  • Presents clear, understandable tips and techniques that span all skill levels, using all types of digital cameras, from compacts to high end DSLRs
  • Features San Fransisco's main attractions in alphabetical order as well as thumb tabs on the pages so you can quickly and easily access the information you are looking for
  • Shares detailed information and insight on critical topics, such as ideal locations to photograph from, the best time of day to shoot, camera equipment to have handy, weather conditions, and optimal camera settings to consider

Whether you're a local familiar with the territory or a visitor seeing San Francisco for the first time, this handy guide will help you capture fantastic photos!

Top Five Must-Photograph Places in San Francisco
Amazon-exclusive content from author Bruce Sawle

1. Lombard Street

Lombard Street is best known for the one-way section on Russian Hill between Hyde and Leavenworth streets. This section of roadway has eight sharp turns that have earned the street the distinction of being ?the crookedest in the world.? The switchback design was created out of necessity to reduce the hill?s natural 30-percent grade, which was too steep for vehicles and pedestrians to climb. The crooked sections are 1/4-mile long and are reserved for one-way traffic traveling downhill. Lombard Street?s curves and turns are world famous, and it has appeared in numerous movies, television shows, and printed materials. Despite all the publicity, you still must see it.

2. Cable Car
The San Francisco cable car system is the last functioning manually operated cable car system in the world. Operated by the San Francisco Municipal Railway, the cars are housed and maintained at the car barn located directly above the Cable Car Museum. The cable car is an icon of San Francisco and a form of transportation from cities past. And it was a San Franciscan, Andrew Smith Hallidie, who patented the first cable car and ultimately spared many horses the excruciating work of moving people over some of the steepest hills in the country. A cable car ride beats any other form of transportation I have ever taken. You are in the open air with the wind blowing on your face, and the movements are all authentic ? bumpy and rickety. Aside from being a great transportation experience, the combination of the old-style cable cars, steep hills, and modern buildings make the cable car a wonderfully unique photo opportunity.

3. Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge, a symbol of San Francisco, spans two of the most beautiful areas in the world: the city of San Francisco and the Sausalito-Marin Headlands. Built in 1937, the bridge is considered one of the most remarkable structures in the world, and the surrounding areas offer many vantage points to photograph. The Golden Gate Bridge?s 4,200-foot long span set a world record, which stood for
about 27 years. The bridge?s two towers rise 746 feet above the water making them 191 feet taller than the Washington Monument. The Golden Gate Bridge has an Art Deco style with wide, vertical ribbing on the horizontal towers that help catch the sun?s light at both sunrise and sunset. This feature alone makes it worth a photograph.

4. Rodeo Beach/Marin Headlands
The Marin Headlands are made up of ridges and valleys, each offering its own distinct character. Many charming beaches and vistas are scattered throughout. Spring is when you can see an explosion of golden poppies and pastel accents of yellow, white, and lavender wildflowers blanketing the hillsides that offer wonderful scents. The Marin Headlands is a photographer?s dream, offering unparalleled views of the Pacific Coast from an untamed Rodeo Beach, to the incredible manmade bunkers left over from the 1960s and the 150-year-old lighthouse that protects ships from the high cliffs, rough seas, and dense fog.

5. Downtown
San Francisco is a unique and breathtaking city, known for its exquisite landscape, steep hills, and bay views. The city takes pride in its many unrivaled attractions, famous museums, and its unique neighborhoods that are like small towns within the city. Each of these small neighborhoods has a variety of sites, shops, and restaurants that reflect the city?s great ethnic and cultural diversity. One of San Francisco?s greatest assets is the combination of old and new architecture. If you have the time, spend an hour or so walking around downtown. Take your time and enjoy what you see; look around take it all in. The city has so much to offer a photographer

Tips for Photographing San Francisco


Panning a Cable Car
Learning to pan is a great way to take your photography skills to the next level. Photographic pan is a technique that is used for objects that are traveling in a straight line. The camera moves from left to right or right to left as it follows the subject, which is moving at the same speed. Panning produces a very interesting effect that causes the subject to stay in focus while the background is blurred, creating a sense of motion that really makes a photo stand out. Your camera will need to be in continuous focus (Nikon) or AI servo (Canon). Each manufacture calls this something different so read your manual for the correct setting. This continuous focus allows you to do is track a moving subject. Your lens adjusts and keeps your subject in focus as long as you have the Shutter button half pressed. To focus on a moving object and use the panning technique, you must use a very slow shutter speed. For example, a good shutter speed for a cable car is 1/20 second. Adjust the shutter speed as necessary for objects that are moving faster or slower.


Leading Lines and Motion

I like to use leading lines to draw the viewer into the scene. A leading line can be almost anything: a road, path, sidewalk, fence, river, hedge, tree line, or shadow. You will not find a strong leading line around every subject, but you should look for them if they are there and take advantage of them. Leading lines in a picture should lead into, not out of, the picture, and they should lead your eye toward the main subject. Sometimes it is a matter of choosing the right angle or point of view to create this leading line effect. Not every composition will have leading lines, but when used correctly it will often improve composition. If you want to try something fun and creative and a bit crazy (okay, dangerous is more like it), this is the location for you. Located in the intersection of Columbus Street and Broadway is a pedestrian sidewalk just big enough for one person and a tripod. Shoot this image during the blue hour, which falls during rush hour in the winter months. A wide-angle lens and slow shutter speed gives you a compelling image complete with leading lines, implied motion, vibrant colors, and. . . danger. This is a must-frame, must-brag-about photo. Just ignore the constant car horns and explicit foul comments you hear while you stand in the middle of the intersection.

Photographing in the Fog
If you have the opportunity to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge in the fog take advantage of a chance to create a photo that is special. Photography is much to do about the perfect light so why would you want to photograph anything in the fog? Fog creates a wonderful mystical atmosphere that can't be replicated by software or filters. What makes this a special time to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge is the protruding towers jutting through the thick blanket of fog. The glowing lights from automobiles and street lights illuminating off the dense white fog. Not only can this be the most beautiful time to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge, it can result in the most dramatic image. When shooting into a thick blanket of fog, you need to apply a little + exposure compensation to account for the amount of underexposure your camera will do when exposing against the thick white fog. Cameras metering systems tend to underexpose when shooting at white and overexpose when shooting at black. If you shoot fog at night, you need to dial in a +2/3 of a stop of exposure compensation to get the correct exposure.

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