A San Francisco Treat: My Weekend Photographic Trip to the City by the Bay

My annual birthday getaway started out with a weekend visit to San Francisco where I spent the weekend enjoying the city and taking a lot of photographs. In fact, many of the photos from this weekend are already some of my all-time favorite photographs that I have taken. My trip started with a noon flight that landed in Oakland. After picking up my car and checking into my hotel in Daly City, I made my way to Treasure Island where I almost immediately witnessed one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen in my life. 

It took me a bit to find the spot I was looking for on Treasure Island as there was a ton of road construction, but once I did I found a wonderful restaurant called Mersea and a view like this:

Mersea Restaurant View of the San Francisco Skyline

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See that palm tree in the middle of the photo up above? I made my way just to the left of that, set up my tripod, and spent the next hour taking photos of the city, the Bay Bridge, and Golden Gate Bridge, and the soon to be delivered sunset. Oh yes, I can't forget the birds, and some of them posed perfectly while they flew around the area, like this one taken right after the colors erupted across the sky:

Golden Gate Bridge Sunset and Seagull Photograph

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After taking that photo, I focused my attention on the City by the Bay as the colorful sky and the cities lights turning on made for some crazy beautiful views.

San Francisco Bay Bridge Sunset Photograph

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Treasure Island Bay Bridge San Francisco Sunset

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After a few more photos of that wonderful sky, I walked over and had dinner at Mersea. What a wonderful little place that is! The concept, the food, and the view are all tough to beat. When dinner was over I went back to the same spot and took a few more photos with the darkened sky. 

Nighttime San Francisco Skyline Photograph

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After taking well over 100 photographs from this location on Treasure Island, I made my way back to my car and headed over to what I was expecting to be a great view of the San Francisco Skyline. However, in the dark evening light I couldn't locate the walking path that would take me from the parking lot to the lookout. But that is ok as I had other ideas in mind. I jumped back into my car and made my way up to Twin Peaks. Now that was such a great view of the city! Among the handful of photos that I took from this vantage point is one that is a close-up of the downtown San Francisco Skyline, and one that is a wide-angle look at the entire city from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Bay Bridge and beyond. See them both below:

Twin Peaks view of Downtown San Francisco Photograph

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Twin Peaks Golden Gate San Francisco Photograph

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On this first evening of this trip, I made one final stop before heading back to my hotel. There was one difficult part of getting this photograph though. Once I arrived in the area that I wanted to take the photograph from, it took me 45-minutes of driving around to find a place to park. The are was all street parking, and street parking in San Fran is a very difficult thing to find. I had actually given up and as I made one final drive past the spot, there was suddenly one parking spot open at the closest possible place to where I wanted to take the photo. So I parked, and within 5-minutes I was able to set up, take the photo, and get back into my car. That photo is the one below featuring the famous Painted Ladies with the San Francisco skyline in the background. 

Painted Ladies in San Francisco Photograph

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The following morning, I woke up and made my way over to the Golden Gate Bridge. My first stop was the Fort Point National Historic Site where I found the classic view that you see below. I spiced up the photograph by using a 4-minute exposure on this one. Using that long of an exposure is what creates the look of the clouds racing by and the very smooth water in the bay. 

Golden Gate Bridge and Fort Point Photograph

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After grabbing that shot, I took a short stroll along the waterfront until I arrived at Torpedo Warf. I again used a 4-minute exposure to capture this image:

Torpedo Warf View of the Golden Gate Bridge Photograph

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I then hit a couple of the Battery's in the area, and while I was at Marcus Miller Battery I again used a 4-minute exposure. This time this technique eliminated all of the traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge, so I ended up with a completely empty bridge in this photograph. 

Empty Golden Gate Bridge Photograph

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The next two things on my list were of vital importance. I continued to make my way along the waterfront towards downtown San Francisco until I hit the first vitally important stop. Which was at the Walt Disney Family Museum. If you have followed me at all, you know about my love of all things Disney. It ended up being a place that I could have spent a couple of hours at, but I only paid for 1 hour of parking as I was already a bit behind my loosely scripted agenda. Once that hour ended I jumped back into my car and even though it was almost noon I made my way to my chosen breakfast spot. And that spot was none other than The Original Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop. Hey, it is my birthday vacation, I can have ice cream for breakfast if I want to. 

After my absolutely delicious breakfast, I drove over to the parking lot for Pier 39. While on top of that parking lot I took this photo of the main three San Francisco towers rising up above one of the seven hills. 

Towering Over San Francisco Photograph

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I made my way over to Pier 39, explored that area for a while and then did the crazy thing of walking all the way down to Pier 7. Once there I walked to the end of the pier, turned around, and took this photo of the TransAmerica Tower.

TransAmerica Pyramid San Francisco Photograph

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The battery in my camera died right after taking this photo, which I expected it to die at some point during the day. Unfortunately at that moment I discovered that I left my backup battery back in the hotel room. I walked all the way back to Pier 39, jumped into the car and went back to the room where I not only grabbed the backup battery, but also took a moment to recharge myself with a nice nap. It was then time to go back out for some nighttime photos. I grabbed a pizza from a place called North Beach Pizza for a late lunch and something I could nibble on over the evening. Let me tell ya, that pizza was fantastic! 

My first stop of the evening was at Battery Godfrey, where I somehow found the walking path that took me down the cliffside to Marshall's Beach. I was very much looking forward to this beach and I'm very glad that I was able to find it. From this beach I found this view of the Golden Gate Bridge:

Golden Gate and Marshall's Beach Photograph

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This was another 4-minute exposure, which is something that I plan on doing more of in pre-nighttime photos going forward. Right after taking this photo, I simply pointed my camera in another direction and captured a sunset and a rock that has been named Helmet Rock. 

Helmet Rock Marshall's Beach Sunset Photograph

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I can fully admit that the climb back up to the top of the cliff kicked my butt. I had knee surgery a handful of weeks before this trip and hadn't done much over that time. My stamina was not where it needs to be, that is for sure. The path itself was pretty easy, it was just a ton of stairs and constant upward slopes. But I made it back up, took a walk over to the Golden Gate Overlook that is at the Battery Godfrey and took this nighttime photo of the Golden Gate Bridge:

Golden Gate Bridge at Night Photograph

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My final photograph from San Francisco was taken a short drive away from this spot, at the Chrissy Field Overlook. I had noticed this location in the morning when I was driving over to the Walt Disney Family Museum and wanted to make sure I got back in the evening. I'm glad that I did as this view is pretty dang cool, don't you think?

Chrissy Field View of Downtown San Francisco Photograph

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And that image concluded my weekend trip to San Francisco. I hope you enjoyed looking through these. I should let you know that even though this is the end of my San Francisco photographs, it is not the end of my trip. I will have more photos from this vacation from another location in California very soon. So keep an eye out for another blog, or sign up for my newsletter to get a first look at the next set of photos before anyone else gets a chance to see them.

Thanks for reading!

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