Saturday, December 19, 2009

Carnelian Room Blues, San Francisco

After seeing Bats and mrperry's photos from the Carnelian Room in San Francisco, I couldn't pass up the chance to shoot from it before it closes for good on New Year's Day. The bar was packed when I arrived just before sunset, but luckily a view table opened up within a few minutes. While I got the impression that tripods weren't exactly welcome, I set it up on its smallest, least-intrusive position and attached a cable release so I could shoot while sipping a martini and acting casual. :)

The view really is incredible. Looking down 52 floors to the street below instantly induces vertigo (if the stiff drinks don't already!) and looking straight across to the tippy-top of the Transamerica Pyramid is a pretty inspiring view. I wasn't as lucky with the epic fog show that Bats and mrperry had, but I did have a nice clear evening with some high clouds and an interesting sunset. The twilight blues cooled as the warm lights came on in the city and big freighters and little ferries came and went. Unforgettable.

I hope you enjoy one of the last views from the Carnelian Room!

Canon 5D, Canon 24-70L, f/11 @25s, ISO 50. No filters.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mount Tamalpais Dreamscape

There seemed to be a lid on San Francisco yesterday. The sky was a dull gray, and a near-constant light drizzle dampened the city. I had all but given up on an interesting shoot for sunset, but I thought that despite the high fog layer, that maybe the fog would top out below 2000 feet. So I headed to the "roof" of the Bay Area: Mt. Tamalpais.

The fog was so thick on the way up windy highway one that it was pretty harrowing with all the hairpin turns. Finally, as I headed up Pantoll Road, I broke through the fog, and was treated to an incredible view: a broken sea of fog out over the Pacific, and fog pouring over the hillsides from the inland side, like a giant ladling cream.

Since I arrived right at sunset, I didn't have much time to scout out a location so I headed directly for a location I'd picked out on an earlier visit. I was in luck: that particular ridge wasn't being bathed in fog.

I used a moderately long exposure (13 seconds) to show the movement in the fog. I also used GNDs to balance out the bright sky. I only saw one other car on the top of Mount Tam. Here's the sunset that everyone else in the Bay Area missed!

Canon 5D, Canon 24-70L, f/22 @ 13s, ISO 50. 2-stop soft and 3-stop hard Lee GND filters.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Liquid Gold: San Francisco Bay

The sun finally came out this afternoon and cast some incredible light on the bay. The tide was coming in and the rippling current caught the light, like a river of gold.

I loved the patterns in the water, kind of like moire.

Canon 5D, Canon 100-400L, Canon 2x extender (680mm), f/11 @ 1/320, ISO 50. No filters.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday View on the Embarcadero, San Francisco

This shot has been on my list for some time, but I've been waiting for the holiday lights on the Embarcadero.

I got here a little later than I wanted to because I got distracted by the beautiful alpenglow sunset reflecting on the bay. By the time I walked over to Pier 7, it was nearly dark. I'd like to try this shot again this season when there are some clouds in the sky.

I wanted to use a small aperture for the starring effect on the lamps, but found that most of my shots had weird flares (like the one in this shot), no matter what lens I used. Anyone know why that is? I haven't run into this before.

Canon 5D, Canon 24-70L, f/16 @ 80s, ISO 50. No filters.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas Gift

Christmas Gift, originally uploaded by Della Huff Photography.

[click on the image to view larger.]

Usually I don't go for Photoshop tricks like this, but a client requested a San Francisco panorama with only the Golden Gate in color. I have to admit that I kinda like how it came out! :)

This panorama was taken during the holiday season last year.

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's Christmastime in the City...

I love Christmastime in San Francisco. The holiday lights are on on the Embarcadero and Pyramid, there are festive trees and decorations everywhere, and best of all, there's no slushy snow to contend with.

...except for today. It snowed on the mountains around the Bay Area, and for a brief time, it even sleeted in downtown San Francisco!

Unfortunately I couldn't go out and photograph it until the light was almost gone tonight. Maybe I'll get lucky and it'll snow again in San Francisco... sometime in my lifetime!

For the locals who are interested, here are the recorded dates of snowfall in San Francisco, from

Year Day Amount Remarks

1856 Dec 25 White Christmas!
1868 Jan 12
1882 Dec 31 Snow fell from 11:30am to 4:20pm.
1884 Feb 7 Snow fell off and on. Depths 1 to 2".
1887 Feb 5 Snow fell during the day. Up to 7" on Twin Peaks.
1888 Jan 16
1896 Mar 31 Fell as brief heavy snow at night.
1932 Dec 11
1952 Jan 15
1962 Jan 21 Unofficial 3" in Sunset and Westlake Districts
1976 Feb 5 Up to 5" at top of Twin Peaks.

Canon 5D, Canon 100-400L, f/6.3 @ 30s, ISO 50.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Coit Tower: Rhapsody in Blue

I love how this perspective makes Coit Tower seem organic, growing out of the trees.

Canon 5D, Canon 100-400L

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bay Bridge Alpenglow Reflections II

Since I was already there, I couldn't resist this common composition with the uncommon lighting. Once again, it only took 15 seconds to smooth the water out this much. It was wonderfully still. I just wish the tide had been a little higher to hide the rocks on the right... I'll take it, though :)

Canon 5D, Canon 24-70L, f/20, 15s, ISO 50.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Bay Bridge Alpenglow Reflections

To me this looks like sunrise, but it was actually last night's sunset along the Embarcadero. After the windy day on Saturday, the city was crystal clear and calm on Sunday evening. I had to stop and shoot this when I saw the beautiful pinks and blues in the alpenglow. The nearly-full moon is just out of the shot above the bridge.

Canon 5D, Canon 24-70L, f/22 @15s, ISO 50. 3-stop hard GND.

See more at:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Golden Gate Drama

Golden Gate Drama, originally uploaded by Della Huff Photography.

It was a dramatic day at Marshall's Beach yesterday. The wind was whipping up whitecaps on the bay and ocean, and some pretty serious waves were pounding the boulders along the beach.

It was almost weird taking pictures in the daytime since I've taken so many twilight shots over the past several months. I used a circular polarizer to bring out the blue in the sky and slow down my shutter speed enough to get an interesting wave crash. I wish I could have stayed for sunset -- even slower shutter speed would have been fun with the wave action. The tide was coming in fast and I was starting to get wet atop a big rock, so I hightailed it out of there. Some other time, I guess!

Canon 5D, Canon 24-70L, f/22, 1/6s, ISO 50. Tiffen circular polarizer.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Campanile Sunset #2

Another shot from the Berkeley Hills with the afterglow of an autumn sunset. That's the Campanile, or Sather Tower, in front, with the silhouette of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.

Canon 5D, 100-400L, f/5.6 @ 1/60, ISO 50. No filters.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Twilight Rainbow over San Francisco

It's not a *real* rainbow, but I think it is just as beautiful. Clear conditions in the Bay Area lead to these stunning twilight arches just after sunset. It's an amazing sight to see the colors change and the city lights come on. A long exposure brings the colors out even more.

Canon 5D, Canon 100-400L, f/13, 25s, ISO 50.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Campanile Sunset

Campanile Sunset, originally uploaded by Della Huff Photography.

This one is for the GOLDEN BEARS of the University of California, who beat Stanford at Big Game this weekend 34-28!

The Campanile, or Sather Tower, is the symbol of the University of California, often called the world's best public university. The tower stands 307 feet tall and houses 61 bells which are rung three times daily by a carillon choir. It was originally built in 1914.

This is a shot I've been planning since I moved to Berkeley this summer. The University had been repairing the scaffolded Campanile all fall, and it was finally unveiled last week.

Go Bears! Go Cal!

Canon 5D, Canon 100-400L, f/13, 6s, ISO 50. Two exposure blend to retain the detail in the water and the color in the sky.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

San Francisco Crescent Moon Sunset

I had been waiting for this alignment for some time. I loved the streaky clouds in the sky above San Francisco.

Canon 5D, 100-400L, f/5.6, 1/8, ISO 400.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Twilight Reflections, Fort Baker

Another from the other night's sunset at Horseshoe Cove at Fort Baker in Marin County.

My absolute favorite time to photograph is the transition zone from day to night - twilight. While it's often called the "Blue Hour", in my experience the peak window for photography really only lasts a very few minutes, and if you use long exposures to heighten the twilight effects (like I do), that means that you only have 2-5 frames to really get it right. I'm happy with how the light and color came out in this one - I hope you enjoy it too!

See more at:

Canon 5D, Canon 24-70L, f/10, 30sec, ISO 50. No filters.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Campanile: Unveiled!

The Campanile, also called Sather Tower, is the icon of the University of California at Berkeley campus. It's a beautiful Italianate design, completed in 1914. The tower stands 307 feet tall, making it the third tallest bell and clock-tower in the world. Two or three times each day, a carillon choir chimes the 63 bells housed inside.

Since mid-summer the Campanile has been enclosed in scaffolding as part of a major repair to the spire. The scaffolding came down the other day, revealing the new, old Campanile.

You can see the Port of Oakland in the distance.

Go Bears!

Canon 5D, 100-400L

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Silhouette Reflections, Golden Gate Bridge

Another image from the other evening's sunset at Horseshoe Cove, Fort Baker in Marin County, just under the Golden Gate Bridge.

The water was gently rippling, so I used a long exposure to emphasize the reflections.

Does anyone who understands wave properties and optics better than I do know why the vertical reflections come out so strong, but the horizontal reflections don't come out at all? I'm curious.

Canon 5D, Canon 24-70L, f/22, 30s, ISO 50. No filters.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Twilight Reflections, Fort Baker

I had Veteran's Day off yesterday so I spent the day hiking in the Marin Headlands and caught the sunset at Fort Baker, at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County. I loved the colorful reflections and the sailboats in the foreground.

Canon 5D, 24-70L, f/9, 30s, ISO 50. No filters.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Golden Gate Balancing Act II

I'm sure you're getting sick of my Golden Gate Bridge + sunset posts... unfortunately all the time I've had for photography recently has been shots from my roof at sunset ;-)

Fortunately, though, I have some fun shoots planned for Thanksgiving. Fingers crossed that the weather cooperates with me!

Canon 5D, Canon 100-400L, f/9, 1/400, ISO 50. No filters.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Autumn Sunset over San Francisco

Autumn Sunset, originally uploaded by Della Huff Photography.

Tonight's sunset, the end of a beautiful fall day.

Canon 5D, 100-400L

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Smoking Mt. Bromo, Java, Indonesia

Mt. Bromo is the probably the most visited of Indonesia's many active volcanoes. It's a breathtaking sight. Most visitors arrive while it is still pitch black, and as the light grows, this incredible landscape stretches before you. It's an unforgettable view.

I took this photo when it was still pretty dark. It's a 60-second exposure, which is why the plume from Mt. Bromo is blurred to the left.

It was a beautiful clear morning there. On many mornings, low fog fills the valley. I wish I could have stayed there for a week to shoot it in many different conditions, but I only had the one morning before continuing on to Bali.

To read more about my 3-month adventure in Southeast Asia, read my blog at:

Canon 5D, 24-70L, f/11, 60s, ISO 50.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Golden Gate: Green Flash!

I was photographing the sunset behind the Golden Gate Bridge tonight and saw the green flash for the first time in my life!

I love astronomy and meteorology and so was really excited to see it. The flash was only visible for 2-3 seconds and I managed to snap one image during that time.

From Wikipedia on the green flash phenomenon:

Green flashes and green rays are optical phenomena that occur shortly after sunset or before sunrise, when a green spot is visible, usually for no more than a second or two, above the sun, or a green ray shoots up from the sunset point. Green flashes can be observed from any altitude. They are usually seen at an unobstructed horizon, such as over the ocean, but are possible over cloud-tops and mountain-tops as well.

The reason for a green flash lies in refraction of light (as in a prism) in the atmosphere: light moves more slowly in the lower, denser air than in the thinner air above, so sunlight rays follow paths that curve slightly, in the same direction as the curvature of the Earth. Higher frequency light (green/blue) curves more than lower frequency light (red/orange), so green/blue rays from the upper limb of the setting sun remain visible after the red rays are obstructed by the curvature of the earth.

Green flashes are enhanced by mirage, which increase the density gradient in the atmosphere, and therefore increase refraction. A green flash is more likely to be seen in clear air, when more of the light from the setting sun reaches the observer without being scattered. We might expect to see a blue flash, but the blue is preferentially scattered out of our line of sight and remaining light ends up looking green.

Canon 5D, Canon 100-400L, f/10, 1/50, ISO 50.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Giggling Apsaras, Angkor Wat

I caught these sweet apsara dancers giggling together before a dance performance in the ruins at Angkor Thom (part of the Angkor Wat region).

Apsaras, celestial dancing nymphs, are an important part of the Hindu and Buddhist mythology, and can be seen carved in bas relief in great numbers at the temples of Angkor. The traditional Khmer dance is also called "Apsara Dancing" and is a beautiful, elegant dance to watch.

[International] Orange Impression

I think this might be one of my favorite photos that I've taken in awhile. I shot this as the sun sank and illuminated the hazy air with a bright orange glow. You can just make out the Golden Gate Bridge silhouette, Alcatraz, and if you look closely, a container ship passing by the bridge tower.

I'm not much of a minimalist photographer, but this works for me. Oh, and for those not from the Bay Area... "International Orange" is the official name of the Golden Gate's paint color :)

Canon 5D, Canon 100-400L, f/11 @ 1/200, ISO 50.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Autumn at Valley View, Yosemite

Valley View is always spectacular, but I couldn't resist the highlights of fall color along the Merced River. It was a perfect fall day.

Canon 5D, 24-70L, f/14, 1/15, ISO 50. Circular polarizer.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Golden Gate Balancing Act

I've been watching the sun move south over the past couple of weeks. Tonight it set right in the position I'd been waiting for: cradled in the span of the Golden Gate.

Canon 5D, Canon 100-400L, f/11, 1/100, ISO 50.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Leaning Tree over the Merced, Yosemite

Most people were turned the other way at Sentinel Bridge, taking the famous photo of Half Dome reflected in the river. I couldn't resist the opposite view with the magic late afternoon Yosemite light that looks like a Bierstadt painting come to life.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Autumn Reflection, Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite

Yosemite was stunning this weekend: peak fall color and warm, 70-degree days. The waterfalls were even running, thanks to the recent storms in California.

This was taken at Valley View. I used a small aperture (f/22) and a low ISO to lengthen the exposure as much as possible to smooth the reflections.

Canon 5D, Canon 24-70L, f/22, 3.2s, ISO 50.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bay Bridge Blue Hour

Shot between the Fire in the Sky and Slow Burn last Saturday night.

Heading to Yosemite this weekend for fall color... can't wait!

Canon 5D, Canon 100-400L, f/16, 37sec, ISO 50

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Golden Gate Sunset

The sun will be setting behind the North Tower in just a few days! Fingers crossed for a clear evening to shoot it...

Canon 5D, Canon 100-400L @ 400mm

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

San Francisco Stormcloud II

This was taken 20 minutes after my last post:

In that time, the bay became even more calm. Check out the reflections from the Transamerica Pyramid and the B of A Building!

Canon 5D, Canon 100-400L, f/11, 30s, ISO 50.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

San Francisco Storm Cloud

Funny weather in the Bay Area this week. Yesterday a small storm worked its way over the bay in the late afternoon, soaking Berkeley. As it cleared, the moisture in the air created a stunning quality of light as the sun started to go down, casting a golden glow on the bay. Even more amazing, the bay was incredibly still -- so still that the Transamerica Pyramid cast a reflection! I don't think I've ever seen it so still, and it was just after a storm. Amazing.

Canon 5D, Canon 100-400L, f/7.1, 1/13, ISO 50.

Fire in the Sky over San Francisco

Here's a panorama of Friday evening's sunset at its brightest from the Port of Oakland. I don't think it's quite as interesting as a photograph as my previous post, but I wanted to share the brilliant sunset for those that missed it.

To see a shot of the skyline with the slow-burning sunset a bit later, click here:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

San Francisco Slow Burn

When I noticed the odd clouds roll in this afternoon I thought there would be a decent shot at a good sunset, so I headed down to the Port of Oakland, a location I've been meaning to check out. The sunset started out mediocre, but just when I had given up on any color the entire sky exploded in pink - it was incredible! Even more photogenic was the lingering color in the sky, visible even after it was almost completely dark. I used a long exposure to bring the colors out even more.

I like to call those kinds of sunsets "slow burn".

It's been a really long couple of weeks for me, but seeing a sunset like this over San Francisco makes all of that stress disappear. I love this city!

Canon 5D, 100-400L, f/10, ISO 50.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Evening Commute, Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An is an incredibly charming and photogenic city. For the better part of an afternoon I simply sat and waited for interesting things to walk by. I love this strategy in travel photography because I absorb more of the feeling of a place when I pause and watch the world go by around me.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

San Francisco Bay Bridge and Skyline at Twilight

I finally took this iconic shot the other night, too (same evening as "San Francisco on Ice").

It was a stunning afternoon in the Bay Area - warm, still, and clear as a bell - and the perfect conditions for this shot. In order to get the bridge lights to "star", I used a small aperture combined with a long exposure (over 2 minutes).

Now that I've gotten these two out of my system, I can concentrate on more creative shots of the Bay. I have a lot of ideas I'm excited to try out.

Canon 5D, 24-70L, f/22, 121s, ISO 50. No filters.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

San Francisco on Ice

So this has become a pretty popular spot for photography along the Embarcadero. I hadn't shot this yet, though, and couldn't pass up the chance... It's a pretty compelling composition, even if it is kinda obvious by now :)

I titled this "San Francisco on Ice" because the silky-smooth water reminds me of ice. I hope it never gets that cold here, though!

Canon 5D, 24-70L, f/6.3, 121s, ISO 50.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Point Bonita

Point Bonita, originally uploaded by Della Huff Photography.

Point Bonita is a wind-whipped, dramatic outcropping just outside the Golden Gate Bridge. I like the long shutter speed in this image, which I think gives it a sense of tranquility.

Canon 5D, 100-400L, f/16, 5s, ISO 50.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wallowing Water Buffalo

I found this guy cooling off on a ridiculously hot day in Hoi An, Vietnam. I so wanted to jump in the water with him!

Boston Panorama

Boston Panorama, originally uploaded by Della Huff Photography.

I was looking through my files for something else and ran across this, a panorama taken in the summer of 2007. I lived in Boston for two years and really love the city. I took this panorama from the observation deck in the Prudential tower - one of my favorite views anywhere!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Blue Hour on Sydney Harbour

I love Sydney. It's similar in a lot of ways to my native San Francisco, not least in its photogenic-ness!

This is one of my favorite views of Sydney's two most recognizable icons: the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This image was taken from Luna Park, on the north side of the city.

Canon 5D, 24-70L, f/14, 91s, ISO 50.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Woman Lighting Butter Lamps, Boudha, Nepal

After the sun set, Tibetan buddhists lit yak butter candles around Bodnath stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal. I loved the beautiful light they gave off.

Canon 5D, 70-200L, f/4, 1/20

See more of my photography at

Monday, September 14, 2009

The McDonald Family - Happy Anniversary!

Our good family friends celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary recently and I took a few portraits at the occasion. They even dressed up in their wedding duds! It's great to see a couple with such a great sense of humor and still so in love 40 years later. Tom and Cathy, I hope you enjoy these photos!

[click images to view larger]

The lovely couple

Members of the original wedding party

The handsome groom

The beautiful bride

With their lovely daughter, Megan

Cathy loves a man in uniform! ;)

Cathy's adorable bonnet-veil

The Golden, Foggy Gate

Low fog flowed through the Golden Gate last Friday evening.

The tech: Canon 5D, 100-400L, ISO 50