Category Archives: Photographs: San Francisco

A Photograph Exposed: San Francisco Skyline, Winter Fog and Haze

San Francisco Skyline, Winter Fog and Haze
San Francisco Skyline, Winter Fog and Haze

San Francisco Skyline, Winter Fog and Haze. San Francisco, California. December 18, 2009. © Copyright 2009 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Fog and haze obscure the winter skyline of downtown San Francisco, California.

It is unlikely that any view of San Francisco will be entirely unique, but I haven’t seen many other photographs of the City’s skyline that look quite like this one. It isn’t unusual for people who see the photograph (especially as a print) to ask, “Is that real?” It is as real as a photograph gets, and the conditions actually occurred — the only time I have seen them quite like this, with quite this soft and subtle atmosphere and light. (The post-processing on this photograph was relatively minimal, and a lot of it was about controlling the brightness of that bright cloud high in the sky.)

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I frequently drive north over the Golden Gate Bridge to photograph in the redwoods, along the coast, or at Point Reyes National Seashore. This usually means leaving home well before the sun rises, and depending on where I’m headed, I usually cross the bridge right around dawn. The plan is to pause and look at the scene in the early light and decide if something really interesting might happen — and it that seems probable I’ll photograph here for a while before moving on.

The light and atmosphere on this winter morning were special enough to get me to pause. Continue reading A Photograph Exposed: San Francisco Skyline, Winter Fog and Haze

Warehouse Wall

Warehouse Wall
Warehouse Wall

Warehouse Wall. San Francisco, California. June 13, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Warehouse wall, door, and window on a San Francisco pier

Photographed on one of my morning walks around portions of downtown San Francisco, this is a scene from one of the piers along the San Francisco Bay waterfront. I had made a looping walk from the Caltrain station over around portions of China Basin, eventually making my way to the old waterfront area where I photograph dilapidated piers that are decaying and falling into the Bay. Finishing with that subject, I started back along the waterfront and soon came to the entrance to this very large and active pier, and I decided to wander out onto it since there was a marked pedestrian walkway.

The first section of the pier has a roadway up the center, and it is lined with warehouse structures with loading docks and garage doors. The scene is spare and industrial, and the light was coming across the structures from the side and highlighting details and textures. Here I like the disembodied shapes of the window and roll-up door.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Five Ships, Abandoned Piers

Five Ships, Abandoned Piers
Five Ships, Abandoned Piers

Five Ships, Abandoned Piers. San Francisco, California. June 13, 2013. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Five ships sit at anchor beyond abandoned piers, San Francisco Bay

This will likely be the final in this series of (mostly) black and white photographs featuring this dilapidated pier (piers, actually) along the San Francisco waterfront in the China Basin area. I’ve shared several others recently, but yesterday as I was preparing some prints for a meet-up with some fellow photographers in San Francisco, I took another look at this one and saw that it could work with a more panoramic format.

The ships parked on the horizon probably don’t suggest San Francisco to most people, but it is very common to see them moored out in the San Francisco Bay, where I imagine that they must “park” before or after being offloaded. Quite a few seem to be tankers of some sort. I’ve been intrigued by these ships for some time, and the linear arrangement of five of them on this morning, when fog and backlight made the hills on the other side of the Bay disappear, almost seems a bit mysterious. The piers are also fascinating. They have obviously been there for a long time and just as obviously have been allowed to deteriorate to the point that portions seem to have simply fallen into the water, and it looks like the Bay will ultimately reclaim all of them.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Blue Water, Blue Sky, Boat

Blue Water, Blue Sky, boat
Blue Water, Blue Sky, Boat

Blue Water, Blue Sky, Boat. San Francisco, California. June 13, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Blue light and morning haze over San Francisco Bay

I’m channeling the blue in this photograph, shot along the San Francisco waterfront earlier this month. The facts are straightforward — I was walking along the San Francisco Bay waterfront early in the morning, as I like to do during the summer. There was some morning haze above the bay, left over from the dissipating fog, and it took on a blue coloration from the sky. Across the bay the giant cranes of the Port of Oakland are visible along the East Bay shoreline, nearer a boat passes near the end of breakwater.

I think that some people might wonder at all the city photographs, especially since so much of my photograph is of the natural world — the coast, the Sierra, migratory birds, the desert. I photograph the city for quite a few reasons. For one, it is closer than some of those other subjects, and at a minimum photographing in the city give me a chance to keep my eye “in tune.” In some ways, urban shooting can do more for this than more photography of the natural world, since the urban environment often presents such simplified forms and because I often have to work quickly and rely on (and thereby reinforce) my visual instincts. In addition, I just have to admit that there is a part of me that likes the urban world with its intense and compressed experiences. (Not that this photograph shows that part of it!)

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Walking Man, Columns

Walking Man, Columns
Walking Man, Columns

Walking Man, Columns. San Francisco, California. June 13, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A man walks between architectural columns, San Francisco

This is what I think of as a “compose and wait” shot, something I often do when shooting street photography. I find an interesting composition — here the series of columns, with shadows falling across them, and the mottled foreground light reflected from the windows of nearby downtown buildings — and then I wait for a person to walk into the frame and provide a center of visual interest.

This approach provides an interesting combination of intentional and carefully composed elements (the selection of overall subject and its composition) with elements that are almost completely out of my control — I have no idea who will walk into the frame, exactly where they will be, or what they will be doing. Things tend to happen very quickly, too. Obviously, I could not really track this subject into the frame, as he was behind these large columns, so I have to react quickly. In truth, when I work this way I often end up making quite a few exposures that just don’t quite work… but if I’m lucky it may all fall together in a single frame.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Concrete Landscape

Concrete Landscape
Concrete Landscape

Concrete Landscape. San Francisco, California. June 13, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A curving freeway ramp encircles a downtown building in the urban landscape of San Francisco

Another morning trip to San Francisco, another walk through the City, and another photograph of urban landscapes. This photograph is from a mid-June morning walk that started at the Caltrain station, headed over toward China Basin, and then ambled back toward Market Street before looping back to the trains station.

Several freeways cut through this section of downtown San Francisco: 101 on its north-south route, 280 arriving from the Peninsula, and 80 connecting to the East Bay. Here the freeway is high above the city, which has the advantage of keeping city streets open but the disadvantage of creating a large path of somewhat seeding “beneath the freeway” areas and sometimes forcing the city itself to conform to the contours and paths of the highways. In some cases the result can be interesting, and in this location where this strange landscape of vertical columns and nested curves is the result.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Gated Pier

Gated Pier
Gated Pier

Gated Pier. San Francisco, California. June 13, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A metal gate blocks the entrance to a pier along San Francisco Bay

This is another in the recent series of photographs made along the San Francisco waterfront, walking along various less-visited areas and occasionally poking my head into places that are more industrial than tourism oriented. I’d have to review more closely to remember for certain, but I believe this one was in the China Basin waterfront area.

As I walked slowly along this section of the waterfront I paused frequently to photograph buildings and other features of the area. This is an area in transition, and taken as a whole this part of the waterfront ranges from old and dilapidated, through working piers, and right on up to remodeled and updated areas reoriented towards business or tourism. By comparison to some of the older working piers, this one seems awfully neat and clean, with the exception of some fabric pushed up against the wall at the far left. The stark lines and stark morning light, open to the vast sky above the bay caught my attention.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.