Golden Gateway to California {Northern California Photographer}

San Francisco: City by the Bay

There are many beautiful cities in this wonderful world of ours that I have never seen and would love to see.  But, there is something a bit magical about the City by the Bay:  San Francisco.

I’m a Northern California girl, born and bred.  My family has been in Northern California for 5 generations.  Many people say they are natives of California when they have only been here 20 years.  I scoff at their silliness.  I have deep roots here and it would be difficult for me to leave this state even though it is not so Golden anymore.  But, I do not want to dwell on the negatives today.  Today I want to talk about our visit to the Beautiful City last weekend

My Photographer Buddies: The Photograteers

I have spoken about my photog buddies in prior posts.  I call us the Photograteers (ala Muskateers:  All For One and One For All!).  The rest of them call us The Flashers. (I secretly think they use that term because they can’t pronounce Photograteers.)  Anyway, we get together every year in February and go on a photography adventure for a day.  Last year we went to Bodega Bay and the year before we went to Napa.  We get together other times to shoot together, but our February trip is something we look forward to all year.

This year we headed to San Fran and concentrated mostly on The Golden Gate Bridge:  a true icon of the United States.

The first place we hit was Baker Beach, which is the ocean side of of the Golden Gate rather than the Bay side.  I had never been to Baker Beach before, even though I have lived in San Francisco before.  I must say that our nickname, The Flashers, came to mind as we drove up to the beach and one of the Photograteers said, “Karen, you know what Baker Beach is famous for, don’t you?”  I naively said, “An iconic view of the Golden Gate Bridge that many portrait, family and wedding photographers have used for years?”

They all laughed.

“No.  It’s a nude friendly beach.”

Uh, oh.  I am a modest person, by nature, and I didn’t want to see a bunch of nude people, but my sense of adventure overcame my desire not to see nude men propelled me to grab my tripod and trudge down the beach with the rest of the “Teers”.  All for one and all that.


The view from Baker Beach

Wide Angle view of Baker Beach with dog and no nudes

It is a beautiful beach and a great view, as soon as the tripods went down, the nude men came out and parading their naked bodies in the surf in front of the rocks so it was impossible to take a picture without at least one nudie-not-so-cutie in the shot.  Luckily, it was February, so there weren’t many of these guys.  But, two of them were quite insistent.  Even when the family with little children showed up, they were trying to be in every single picture that this family took.  I was able to photoshop out these “charming” men without too much trouble.

After this adventure, we headed over to another place on the South/East side of the bridge.  I had also, never been to this location.

The Photograteers checking out the view

View from the South Tower

It was the middle of the day, so the light was not the best, but it was still a beautiful view.


Under the Bridge

After that, we crossed the bridge and headed over to Sausalito, a charming little Marin County town.  It was a three day weekend and the weather was beautiful, so the crowds were out.  We wandered around there for a while and then we went down to Fort Baker to shoot the bridge and The City from Bay level.


Now you know what’s under the bridge

As it was starting to get a little late and the sun was settling down to provide some great light, we headed over to the Marin Headlands to shoot the bridge as the sun went down.

There were lots and lots of tourists trying to do the same thing we were trying to do and so finding a parking place was a challenge. We got lucky several times and tried several different places.

Pacific Ocean view of The GG Bridge and San Francisco

Another spot, another view

We finally got to the place that we wanted and because the sun was beginning to get lower in the sky, it was a bit chilly and many of the tourists were not so interested in seeing the view.  We waited for a parking place and we were rewarded!  We hiked up to the peak of the viewing area, planted our tripods and waited for the “good” light.

And we were rewarded.

The fog rolls in

Zoom in on The City thru the Bridge Cables

The Bay and a tanker

As the afternoon stretched toward evening the light on the bridge and on the city just got better and better.  We were all glad that we brought jackets and gloves, though.

Color begins to appear in the sky

And when the sun set, the lights came on.

We decided to finish up our adventure back at Fort Baker where we could get some night shots.

Farewell to the Bridge.  I’m sure we will return to see more of what San Francisco has to offer the Photograteers.


You can find some of these prints for sale here:  Prints for Sale






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  • February 24, 2013 - 8:35 pm

    photowannabe - Beautiful series and the copy is so well written.
    I am getting antsy to make a trip there myself.

  • February 25, 2013 - 9:05 am

    Karen Schmautz - Thank you. I am ready to go back.

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