Friday, March 7, 2014

The One Holdout

I can't help it. I see a scene now, and my eyes mark a frame around it, imagining it as a photograph. It's part of the plight of the photographer, I suppose. But it's a huge step toward better compositions.

A few weeks back, while cruising around San Francisco with my family and in-laws, I noticed the sky starting to turn all kinds of shades of awesome. I knew what was coming - I'd seen it many times before. Most of the color was in the direction of the Bay Bridge, so I raced that way, looking for a pier along the way to stop at to try to capture the scene. I already had the scene set up in my mind: gorgeous, fluffy, pink and purple clouds, moving quickly to create long swooshes across my long exposure image, with the edge of the pier in the foreground, and the Bay Bridge in the background.

I realized I wasn't going to make it, in fact may have already missed it, so I pulled off at Pier 7 and ran out as fast as I could with my gear (my wife jumped in the driver's seat thankfully so I didn't have to leave the car to get towed from The Embarcadero). It was, as I feared, a bit too late for most of the show in the sky, and so once the color was completely gone, I turned around and started playing with photos of the pier itself.

I had seen photographs of Pier 7 before, but hadn't actually realized which pier it was or where it was located. By a lucky accident, though, there I was, standing on one of the most photogenic piers in San Francisco, with a wonderful backdrop of the Transamerica Building and financial district. I didn't quite catch the scene I had originally imagined, but I found a new one instead.

The One Holdout - Pier 7 in San Francisco
GPS: 37.8000546152, -122.394438386

In my rush, however, I didn't happen to notice the obvious defect in my frame: the first lamp post in a long line of lamp posts leading to the background was burned out. Had I taken about 10 steps forward, I probably could have gotten a much stronger composition, something closer to what I thought I had framed in my mind.

I guess that's how it goes sometimes. The good news, though, is now I know where Pier 7 is, and so next time I'm in San Francisco looking for places to go to take pictures, you know where I'll be standing: 10 steps further up the pier.

Well, that is, unless they change that light bulb.

Take a look at my photo guide with all my favorite San Francisco photo spots, including Pier 7 and many others.