brief snapshots in time. memories and thoughts. disorganized and random.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

pictures by the bay

I'm a bit of a photo nut. I love taking pictures.

I took a black and white photography class a few years ago. during the class, I had a trip planned out to San Francisco to visit a few of my good friends. what better excuse to tote my huge camera out there and snap some shots?

here's the tale of that trip to SF and a few of my favorites.

Golden Gate Bridgeso, the day before I left for San Fran my friend D called me to tell me he was in New York... um, but I was flying out the next day and was planning to stay with him. no problem, he said I could still stay at his place, he'd be in town by Saturday so we could hang out, and his friend (whom I'd met earlier that year) wasn't working that week, had lived in SF for years and would play tour guide.


TourGuide met me on my way into town from the airport. he was very enthusiastic about showing me around and was excited to take me to all kinds of places that he envisioned being good subject matter for pictures for my class.

first thing, we headed to the top of Twin Peaks* to look out over the city and get proper perspective on things. as we wound our way around, we stopped in Golden Gate park to look at the red structure spanning the bay.

Golden Gate Bridgebeing an engineer, I can actually stand and look at bridges for long periods of time. as such, TourGuide suggested we go to an area underneath the bridge where I could get an unusual perspective of the bridge.

I stood there trying to get the best angle, heavy camera in hand, when *BAM* I'm on the ground. I had side-stepped into a huge chain that was strung between cement posts. of course I had.

TourGuide inquired if I was ok, then helped me up with the help of the military policeman that was nearby, gun in hand. (this was not too long after 9/11 and the security was heightened at things such as the enormous base structure of a large bridge.)

after TourGuide and mr. policeman determined that I was indeed ok, they laughed. and although my knee was in pain and I was completely embarrassed at having to be helped up by a gun-toting policemen, I could appreciate the humor in the scene, despite being bummed that I had cracked my camera lens in the fall.

being the good guy that he is, TourGuide stopped by a drugstore and got me an instant ice patch, some advil and an ace bandage, and laughed with me as I lamented my luck in the first few hours of my four-day trip. D had apparently told a few stories of my klutziness and unfortunate luck, so although TourGuide was not surprised by this turn of events, he was very nice about it.

Sunset - San Franciscoafter taking measures to reduce the swelling in my knee, we headed to the beach to watch a beautiful sunset over the Pacific.
as we sat on the wall and watched the sun sink into the ocean, we saw some crazy disappearing vapor trail that looked as if it might be a jet heading out to be lost at sea. we later found out it was some missile being tested, but it was a very strange site that mesmerized us.

after the sun had sunk below the horizon, we headed back to the city.

Moon over San Franciscobefore meeting D & TourGuide's friends for dinner, we headed back up Twin Peaks to get a view of the city at night, the moon was out, but I'd forgotten my tripod and the shots came out a little blurry. at dinner I got to meet R's girlfriend, who was extremely nice to me, despite my monopolizing her boyfriend as my tour guide.

we had a fantastic meal, drank and told stories. I was automatically taken in as part of the group, cool by association, based solely on the fact that I was D's friend.

after dinner we drove to D's place on the far side of the Golden Gate Bridge and I settled into the amazing accommodations, happy to have such a fabulous place all to myself.

turns out, TourGuide had a friend with a speed boat, so the next morning we took it out on the bay, cruising around a bit, chatting and taking in some great views of the city, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.

Fisherman's WharfTourGuide had a meeting in the afternoon, so I was set free to do the tourist thing alone. I went to Fisherman's Wharf to walk around a bit before I caught the boat over to Alcatraz. (I'd been to San Francisco a few times before, but never actually done the Alcatraz tour.)

wandering around Fisherman's Wharf I saw Robin Williams, it was kind of strange, because at first I wasn't sure it was him. there was no one around. so I stood there and observed as he interacted with the few people he was with. he seems much more sane in real life, although his humor is not far from the surface.

then other people started noticing who he was, too. so, I continued on my way, looking out over the water where the sailboats are moored.

then it was time to board the boat to Alcatraz.

Alcatraz Lighthousewalking around the little island with so much history was intriguing. I snapped dozens of pictures, both black & white and color. there is such a stark contrast between the crumbling remains of the concrete structures and the beautiful natural scenery surrounding it.

the history of the island includes not only the infamous federal penitentiary, but an early military fort, a period when Indians used the island perhaps to ostracize others, and the West Coast's first and oldest operating lighthouse.

I remember waiting below the lighthouse for a long time. waiting for the flag to blow out just so.

the walking tour has an interesting tale of the various inhabitants of the island, including information on the more colorful prisoners that inhabited the cells.

Ruins at Alcatrazwalking around the grounds is fascinating. the cellhouse, the old buildings where wardens and their families lived, the dock, the grounds where some prisoners were allowed to exercise.

there are so many interesting buildings in various states of deterioration. concrete eaten away by saltwater and wind.

the structures hanging onto the edge of the rocks, refusing to completely decay. standing as a reminder to those that come to visit of all that have lived and worked there before.

this was one of those times that I was more than happy to be touring alone. I like to stop and take pictures... alot. and often the people I'm with get annoyed at my addiction.

Golden Gate Bridge from Alcatrazthe views from the island are spectacular.

I love the juxtaposition of man-made creations against natural beauty. this was an ideal place for that. there's overgrown ivy on some of the crumbling buildings. trees and bushes growing amid the concrete.

it was time for the boat back.

D got back into town late Friday night. TourGuide and I met up with him after dinner and grabbed a drink. I thanked TourGuide for his services.

Saturday D and I went for a hike in Muir Woods**. and that was about it for my touristy adventures in and around the City by the Bay.

I had some friends from high school and grad school in Fremont. so, I drove to the other side of the bay to visit with friends. we had dinner, then I headed back to D's for a little late night crazy dancing.

before I left Sunday, D and I had a quiet brunch at Sam's. and chatted and caught up, as we hadn't been able to do with so many other people around earlier.

it was a great trip and a great opportunity to take some pictures for class.

San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts this last one is one of my favorite pictures from the trip. TourGuide and I stopped by the side of the road the first night I was in town. I sat on the ground (again without my tripod) and wore out TourGuide's patience while snapping pictures of the rotunda of the Palace of Fine Arts reflected in the lake in the foreground.

* thanks The World Against Me!

** will post some pictures if I find them.


Rainypete said...

I love taking pictures. It's funny how much beauty can be foudn in the everyday.

Jen said...

Gorgeous pictures! Those are truly beautiful. I love taking pictures too, but sometimes I get torn between wanting to document an experience through pictures, or to just enjoy it, without having to stop to take photos.

Anonymous said...

I believe it's the Palace of Fine Arts...great photos! I love SF and the entire area!

GlitterGlamGirl05 said...

Gorgeous pictures, makes me want to visit!

Jeremy said...

The hill may have been from the old Presidio... not sure but anyway,
I envy your talent. I really should take a class or something.

Yoda said...


Great photos...your composition is intriguing and you have an eye for lighting.

I own a fabulous Nikon FM2 with a variety of lenses that I almost never use, because I grew up in a photographer's household and have a ton of memories that involve being just outside wondrous places like Cripple Creek and Garden of the Gods, waiting for the light to be just so.

As I examined your shot of the tower at Alcatraz, My eye was drawn to the flag. That's the part that makes it more than a simple snapshot. And then, when you wrote of waiting for the flag to blow out the way it did, I thought, "Yep. Makes sense."

The stories of how you arrived at each photograph are terrific...I think you and my dad could have hours of conversation about photography. Your shots of decaying structures remind me of some he took of weathered wooden buildings in Maine.

I hope you share more of your photography with us. And I hope that you fill your home with framed prints until there is no room left on the walls...your own personal gallery.


The World Against Me said...

WOW.. nice pictures. And of my home town too =)

The top of the hill that can over see most of San Francisco is probably Twin Peaks.

ramblin' girl said...

Thanks everyone... I will try to post more pictures soon.

Kate said...

I snapped similiar shots....not to the same standards as yours. But you were right, San Fran was beautiful