Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays

Willie and I have been wanting to take the (now popular) San Francisco skyline photo from under the Bay Bridge for a while now. The photo is much much nicer during the holiday time when 17,000 lights outlining the Embarcadero Center buildings are turned on and a bright white light (called The Beacon) is turned on at the Transamerica Building (the triangular building). Willie had been checking the SF webcams and it looked like The Beacon was being lit each night. Last year it had been lit by this time of year so we thought we should be pretty safe in making sure The Beacon would be lit.

We left work early and headed out to Treasure Island with plenty of time to find parking, hike up the hill, find the spot and then get setup. Unfortunately when US-101 and I-280 merged we hit a HUGE Friday afternoon holiday traffic. We arrived at Treasure Island much much later than planned (almost an hour later), and had to high tail it up the hill and over the Bay Bridge (we were both sweating pretty badly). After hopping the guard rail we actually found the spot pretty easily (just as we were walking over the Bridge a CalTrans truck drove by and screamed over the loud speaker No photographs from this side of the bridge. We kept walking). We scouted out the area for a while, found our spots and then waited for the light to get nice.

When I originally composed this image I wanted to make the SF Cityscape as large as possible, which meant that I clipped off some of the lights on the Bay Bridge. Once it got dark enough I realized that I really did want to include the extra light on the Bridge and I had zoom out and recomposed to get this final composition.

Luckily for us there was an absolutely BEAUTIFUL sunset that night, which makes the photo much more interesting. Unfortunately though, as the sun began to set we noticed that the Transamerica Beacon was NOT going to turn on :(. The city lights started to come on, then the 17,000 Embarcadero Center lights were visible but The Beacon stayed a flashing red light. No luck for us. This meant that Willie and I would have to come back at another time, hoping the Beacon would be lit. Our second attempt was made 6 days later, after we both confirmed that The Beacon was lit at 5pm the previous couple of nights. The Beacon was the first light we could see on our 2nd attempt Unfortunately on the 2nd night the sky was extremely boring and the photo didnt turn out as well as the previous week. I decided to composite the 2 trips and put the lit Beacon on top of the original photo. I hope you enjoy.

Nikon D700 w/Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S:
42mm, f/16, 30 sec, ISO 125
No filters, NOT an HDR

Aaron M Written by:

Aaron Meyers is a landscape and wedding photographer living in Silicon Valley, CA. His love of the outdoors makes for frequent forays into the Californian wilds, where he delights in the stunning vistas of Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Big Sur, and the Pacific Coast.