With my upcoming trip to Sydney and the subsequent holiday madness I decided to make a quick run down to the San Francisco Bay Area. Of course I have captured the city on many occasions over the years but there has been one vantage point I have always wanted to capture. I just could never find the time to plan this excursion and I didn’t have the right equipment until several years ago.
To capture the city from the Berkeley hills, here’s what you will need.
- Time – to research and explore the Grizzly Peak area and roads around the campus and hills. There are many great vantage points to choose from.
- Weather – you will need clear skies and good visibility. The bay area is usually hazy or foggy and not ideal for this long of a distance.
- A long lens – you will need a fairly long lens. In this case I used the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L lens. 200mm probably won’t cut it as your subject is just too far.
- Tripod – you will need a very sturdy, heavy duty tripod. I used a full size manfrotto with a gimbal mount. Even with that, I still had to contend with wind shake. Keep the tripod as low to the ground as possible.
- Patience – take your time. Something is bound to test your resolve or patience.
Overall it was a good outing. I got some good shots and will likely be going back again before year end to retake a couple of the shots.
Have you captured the city? What’s your favorite vantage point?
Happy New Year!!!
This year I decided to stop thinking about watching (photographing) the fireworks over the San Francisco Bay and actually get out and do it. One of my good friends and great photographer, Steve was only happy to come along and plan our New Year’s Eve photo excursion. We decided, since we were going to be out in the cold weather we may as well catch the sunset over the city. I had been wanting to revisit my last shoot from the Port of Oakland where I shot my last time lapse of the Bay Bridge lights. This time my focus was to obtain a really good high quality wide panorama shot for large format print and reproduction. I did however capture a time lapse of the sunset and city lights as well. It’s hard not to, as it has become fairly easy for me with my 7D and 17-55mm f/2.8 lens. I’ve shot so many time lapses with that combo, it only takes a few minutes to setup.
Magic hour over the city only lasts for a few minutes, and I found it very challenging to capture a full panoramic set of the city with a long enough exposure at a narrow enough aperture (f/8 or smaller). This was due primarily to the amount of the disturbance on the water from boats, ferries and large cargo ships. While you might see a few minutes of calm, they are punctuated by wakes, shadows of moving vessels and light streaks. My frustrations were only compounded by the fact that I decided to use my EF 2x Extender III on the 70-200mm f/2.8. I chose the wrong time to experiment. Under anything other than perfect lighting conditions you will find it exceedingly difficult to use any lens with the 2X extender III. As a result, I missed easily half of my photo opportunities. Below are some panoramic shots I managed to salvage. The detail is pretty impressive – you can see inside offices and hallways in all those buildings you see. The full res compressed JPEG is just under 200MB and the master GIMP file is 1GB (1000MB).
Canon 5D Mark III + EF 2x Extender + EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II
Canon 5D Mark III + EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II
We shot through the sunset till about 9pm then we packed up and headed out to treasure island to scout for a good angle on the action. I have never seen this many photographers and enthusiasts in one place. The whole island was crawling with people like me. Even in the seemingly remote bushes along back roads. We finally settled on the waterfront as the best vantage point. Fireworks are a challenge to shoot! This was my first time shooting fireworks and nothing could have prepared me for it. Below is a collection of some of the highlights. Overall I think it was a success. There are a few things I would’ve done differently now. Your feedback would be highly appreciated.
I was also able to capture a time lapse of the fireworks. The entire show lasted about 13minutes. It was a spectacular affair. If you missed it, the time lapse compilation below should help you enjoy the experience in a matter of seconds. My new years gift to you. I wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year!
Continuing from: https://bryanallo.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/paris-day-1-eglise-de-la-madeleine/
After my visit at Eglise De La Madeleine, I walked down towards Place de la Concorde [Concorde Square??]. It was undergoing a major renovation and presented little photo opportunity so I ambled through Jardin des Tuileries till I arrived at the Louvre. This was the highlight of my day. I have seen so much about this landmark in various media so it was really nice to finally see it in person.
At this point of my visit, I realized Paris was a really big tourist destination. Everywhere I went there were throngs of tourists. I had packed a 10 stop filter which my good friend Steve was kind enough to let me borrow before I left. I hoped that the 10 stop filter would enable me to take very long bulb exposures that would ultimately erase the crowds of tourists from my shot. I did not even come close. There were that many tourists and that much traffic everywhere I went. 5 minute exposures looked like your typical 15 second exposure. This was even more evident when I shot the Eiffel Tower at sunset several days later.
I realized the only way I could shoot Paris would be to shoot at night only. So I just scouted for a few hours during the day and then started to take my shots after sunset and often went on through the night into the early morning.
Blew through the Louvre and ended up at Pont Neuf on the river. Not sure what it is about it, but I just love this bridge. When I returned later that night I was pleased to find calm waters on the river. This meant I could get some really cool light reflections using extended exposures. I proceeded to retrace my steps from earlier in the day upon arriving at Pont Neuf. Below is a wide shot of the bridge followed by a panoramic shot. This was close to midnight with sparse activity around downtown and much fewer people. It was relaxing and refreshing to be able to just take it all it uninterrupted.