One Day Tour in San Francisco

When I lived in the bay area, I often hesitated to go to San Francisco. Traffic heading north on the freeways and in the streets are both horrible. In the 6 years’ time, I may only go through the city 5 times. Have never driven through Golden Gate Bridge by myself; Have never taken a picture of the bridge. Have always adored the architecture of the Palace of the Fine Arts Theater, but I only appreciated it from distance. Painted Ladies are one of the tourist spots, but there are so beautiful Victoria houses in San Francisco. 

When they were all readily available, I had all the reasons not to take a close look at this world-famed city. But photography has changed my mind after 20 years. More so than Seattle, it is one place where there are endless photography opportunities: architecture, landscape, street, close-ups, and even wildlife is quite different from the Northwest. 

These chatty and noisy guys are common in California, but not in Oregon.  They are talkative and their behavior makes you ponder the sophistication of their brains. You would think that they are better companions than dogs and cats because they talk back to you, but not many people have them as pets because they are very high maintenance as I found out. It still amazes me how they are created to mimic human language.

Lombard Street is famous for its steep brick street with eight tight turns for vehicles. People who live in this street have already lots of practice, but not the tourists like us. Driving up and down needs extra precaution. There are cars parked in front of all the houses and there is a perpetual traffic flow. The only place where I can take a picture is one street down, but then, the electric wires are in the way.  This street needs an aerial view and our bird buddies have the advantage that we don’t have. Looking into their eyes, I think this is exactly what they are chatting about.

Then, check out the elevation difference between where you are standing and where the end of the street, the waterfront, is.

Anyone else would have a better bridge shot than mine.  It is just like SpaceNeedle in Seattle. Everyone is shooting it, and so am I. There are 5 recommended locations to shoot this bridge from different angles. Sunrise light does not last long and I only tried one of them.  The bridge in Astoria is my first attempt to shoot a bridge and this is the second one. There have been too many good shots taken by countless photographers. I am posting one because Golden Gate Bridge is the most renowned landmark in San Francisco.

In the past, I did not pay much attention to Painted Ladies. Standing in front of them, I was not too impressed by them.  But after the photos were loaded, I found the colors of the houses are really quite beautiful and the architectural details are very classy. Blue sky and modern buildings are the backdrops while the foreground green grass and trees give a natural touch and balance. As a whole, the colors are stunning. I am glad that I take the picture, not just walked by.

When I got to the Palace of Fine Arts Theater, the sun was up high, but I had to shoot something. Honestly, I was a bit overwhelmed shooting in this place. I felt that I could use a whole day, but I had only 1-1/2 hours. The architecture is utterly beautiful and sophisticated. I was attracted to the large formats and also many intricate details. Too many subjects to shoot but too little time to spend. I know I will surely want to come back and spend more time here.

I used my wide-angle lens for this one and the one below. The monster and majestic structure make me feel incapable, but I gave it a shot anyway.

At this point, I am not sure if I am standing on the ground of San Francisco or in the courtyard of Cesar’s Place (I meant the one in ancient Rome, not the one in Las Vegas)…
And, there are two pairs of Swans on the pond. They are so elegant and so beautiful. I must have taken 20 or 30 shots of them. As close as 5 feet, I could not make his black eye stand out next to the black patch on his beak. Swans and Peacocks must be God’s favorite. He certainly spent more time creating them. 

Just a quick browse, I am liking San Francisco more.  If not for anything else, I will definitely come back here for photography. Remember Tony Bennett’s “I left my heart in San Francisco“? Oh, mine, that golden voice.
I left my heart in San Francisco
High on a hill, it calls to me
To be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars
The morning fog may chill the air, I don’t care

My love waits there in San Francisco
Above the blue and windy sea
When I come home to you, San Francisco
Your golden sun will shine for me

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