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.