Monday, March 23, 2009

Destination: San Francisco city-scape photographs

Golden Gate BridgeI'm often asked where are great spots for taking city-scapes (you know, landscapes in cities) at the destinations to which I've traveled. I've recently returned from San Francisco, a favorite destination of mine, and have some suggestions for you.

There are two great spots for taking wonderful skyline shots of San Francisco; Coit Tower and Twin Peaks. In addition, the Presidio is a marvelous location for taking a skyline photograph of San Francisco, or photos of one of the most famous landmarks in the US, the Golden Gate Bridge.

If you're in San Francisco visiting these locations, or anywhere, visiting similar city-scape vantage points, don't loose sight that the trek to the location, or the location itself, may have wonderful photographic opportunities well beyond the city-scape, or landmark shots themselves.

Filbert Street Climb to Coit TowerFor example, for me most of the fun at the Coit Tower was getting there. We purposefully didn't take a tour bus, a cab, or public transportation to get to the Coit Tower, probably the number one location for tourists trying to take photos of San Francisco's "downtown" skyline. We walked, or should I more correctly say, we climbed there.

We took the famous Filbert Street Stairs to the Coit Tower. On the right is a photo of some of the homes and gardens along the Filbert Street Stairs. The stairs aren't for the "faint of heart" but if you take your time climbing them and take periodic rests to turn around and look at the breath-taking views of San Francisco Bay, it's a wonderful walk. Take a look at my Coit Tower gallery which includes photos of homes and gardens from our Filbert Street climb.

Financial DistrictOf course, once you arrive at the "summit" of famous Telegraph Hill, and take the elevator ($5 for adults) to the top of the Tower, the skyline views are wonderful, from the Embarcadero and skyscrapers of the Financial District, to Fisherman's Wharf and Alcatraz, to the Golden Gate Bridge.

I've seen reviews of Coit Tower which relate tourist disappointment with it, once they arrive. They were expecting something far more grandiose, than something which looks like a fire plug on the outside, and with a first floor which is mostly a "gift shop." The murals inside are lovely, but the Tower itself is not the reason to visit this San Francisco icon. It's the climb to the Tower and the views from it which make this attraction so worthwhile.

From Twin PeaksI had never heard of Twin Peaks until a terrific waitress mentioned it to my wife and I at dinner, when we asked her where she recommends travelers visiting San Francisco go, especially for photographs. Twin Peaks are two hills with an elevation of about 922 feet (281 m) situated at the geographic center of San Francisco, California. They form the second highest point in San Francisco, after Mount Davidson.

We got to Twin Peaks via a rental car, but you can get there by tour bus. There is no public transportation which takes you to the summit, but the 37 Corbett Muni line stops near a path that runs up the hills on Crestline Drive. As you can see by the photo, the views are incredible. Check out some of my other Twin Peaks' photographs in my galleries.

Golden Gate BridgeThe Presidio of San Francisco (originally, El Presidio Real de San Francisco or Royal Presidio of San Francisco) is a park on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula in San Francisco, CA, within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It has been a fortified location since 1776 when the Spanish made it the military center of their expansion in the area. It passed to Mexico which in turn passed it to the United States in 1847.

In a past article, Traveler's "must" photos - Shooting Landmarks I talked about the disappointment some feel when they get home and see their photos of famous landmarks, such as the Golden Gate Bridge. One of my suggestions was to scout around for a new vantage point. Take a look at the variety of looks and shots I've taken of the Golden Gate Bridge in my Presidio gallery at NSL Photography. In the gallery, you'll find eleven different and some similar views of the Golden Gate Bridge which I think exemplifies that idea. The photos are from different angles and perspectives. They include photos of the Bridge showing the beach and fort below, and the parkland above. It's almost amazing how different the Bridge can look. We drove to the Presidio, which I recommend as it's a pretty large place and you don't want your visit cut short by the schedule demands of a tour bus.

Coit TowerIf you're traveling in San Francisco go to these wonder sites for your photographs. You'll be glad you did, and don't let the Coit Tower naysayers keep you away, but take the Filbert Street Stairs, enjoy the gardens and the Bay views behind.

Have a great trip. It's a great city.

1 comment:

Harold said...

I just discovered you on a Google search. Your photos are great.

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