4.20.14 – Bay Bridge Sunrise

by An. 0 Comments

After yesterday’s disappointment, I was adamant about going on a sunrise shoot this morning. Woke up at 5am, checked the webcams (hard to tell really as everything’s dark), and hopped on the N Owl at 5:20am. Got off at Pier 2.


  • First time shooting RAW.
  • Stayed in Aperture Priority, but think I should’ve done manual to keep the aperture at f/22 while decreasing shutter speed.
  • Not having a remote shutter release wasn’t much of an issue.
  • Didn’t feel the need for GND or other filters yet, as much as I wanted to buy one before this.
  • Sunrise was right on time: 6:25 – 6:45. By 7:05, sun was pretty high.
  • Meek sunrise though – just a bit of faint pink and orange.
  • Nearby landmarks: Cupid’s Span statue, Gandhi statue, Ferry Building, Justin Herman Plaza, La Chiffonniere, Embarcadero Center One.
  • Market Street muni/BART stations don’t open until 8am. Take the N Owl back before then.
  • Coffee shops in Embarcadero/Montgomery area are all tiny / not suitable for laptop work.
  • Pier 14 is to the right of Pier 2 – that’s where a lot of the pics I was inspired by were taken. Has slightly better angle of the bridge.

Problems / Questions

  • Since the Mussel Rock shoot, I’ve been suspecting whether there’s something wrong with my camera. My pictures are never sharp! There’s always a bit of blurriness on the subject. It’s most likely because I still don’t really know what I’m doing (hoping that’s the reason), but I did kinda bang it against a rock accidentally so a little worried that it’s damaged.
  • I confused higher f stops with more light again. Can’t wait for the day it’s ingrained and I don’t have to do the mental flip all the time.
  • I don’t understand why sometimes the camera won’t let me press the shutter button, even though the settings aren’t extreme.
  • I stayed mostly at 17mm zoom because I keep reading about how it’s better to move towards the subject rather than zooming in. Seems like it affects quality, but not sure.
  • Didn’t like the angle from Pier 2 much. Too far from the bridge / didn’t find a good section of the bridge to frame.
  • Still wonder if I’m screwing in the camera on the tripod right. Feel silly turning the camera around and around.
  • Using a tripod doesn’t mean you automatically get a straight horizon line – still up to you to lock it in straight.
  • Very aware that I kept violating the Rule of Thirds – but moving the horizon line higher or lower just didn’t look any good. So I continued keeping it right in the middle…
  • Noticing crop factor issue. What I see through the viewfinder is a slightly cropped version of the actual image that gets taken. Time to read up on it for real.

Selected Photos

IMG_6668 IMG_6675  IMG_6679 IMG_6678

I didn’t pay enough attention to what settings I ended up shooting with, so wondered what made the water look so different (Column 1 vs. Column 2). The EXIF data shows that the first set was shot with f/4, second was with f/22. More light = more detail?

IMG_6706 IMG_6756 IMG_6763 IMG_6777 IMG_6778 IMG_6790

Liked the color in these two, but poor composition.

IMG_6796 IMG_6827

Looks like I used f22, 1/500 shutter speed on this dark one.


by An. 0 Comments

Since attending Graham’s workshops and getting a tripod, I’d been meaning to go on another sunrise/sunset shoot. I kept missing the Meetup ones though, so I decided that I was going to go by myself this weekend.

Yesterday, I looked up the time for sunset (7:50pm), grabbed my tripod+camera, and headed off to Twin Peaks. Felt conspicuous with my tripod on the muni.

No buses go to the top, so I called a Lyft to get me there the rest of the way. The driver happened to be an amateur photographer, so we chatted about that. As we started winding up the hill, the fog started rolling in. By the time we were nearly at the peak, the fog had blanketed everything. For some reason it didn’t sink in that my shoot was foiled until my driver said, “Should I keep going…?” Part of me wanted to be stubborn and get some shots no matter what. But there was no way. There was just nothing in view. Reluctantly, I asked him to take me back down.

$15 lesson learned.  I couldn’t believe I hadn’t even thought to consider the fog. Basics of Doing Anything Outdoors 101 – check the weather.

At least I got a tip out of it – the Lyft driver mentioned how he used to use webcams to check out the scene in advance. How brilliant. Would not have thought of that.

I immediately compiled a list for future use:

Bay Bridge / Embarcadero

Golden Gate Bridge

Castro (good for Twin Peaks)

Potreo Hill

Alcatraz / different SF parks

Ocean Beach



4.6.14 Exposure Workshop

by An. 0 Comments

2nd workshop by Graham.

  • Learned about dynamic range.
  • Human vision = 22 stops
  • Digital camera = 14 stops
  • Sunset & sunrise = 18 stops
  • Indoor lighting = 8 stops

nikon – 14 stops
canon – 12 stops
full frame SLR – 22 stops
medium format (like pentax) – 11 stops

Our eye can see sunsets/sunrise, harder for cameras.
Indoor lighting is smaller range, so easier for cameras.

Controlling Dynamic Range
not many pros use HDR

3 ways to control
graduated neutral density filters
polarizer – higher elevation you go, the darker the sky is. Can act as a GND in high elevation.

first image – 13 stops between top and bottom.
example where you don’t need a GND

Q. How do you know what the # of stops is?
I know the camera is 12, I added 6 more stops – if it’s still not balanced, then you know it’s a bit beyond.

canon = 12 stops.

3 stop hard
3 stop soft
2 stop soft

Q. What’s a UV filter?
Q. What other types of filters are there?
Q. What’s live view?
Q. What’s metering?

viewfinder – leaks in light for SLRs, not a problem in mirror-less cameras.
problem is b/c of the pentaprism.
if you’re shooting with your eye there, then it’s ok.

twilight is a great time to shoot

Learning photography – Steps to Mastery

  • getting your bearings
  • understanding equipment
  • understanding fundamentals
  • fascinating with equipment
  • mastering fundamentals
  • mastering exposure
  • mastering composition

composition – 40%
everything else – 35%
aperture – 5%
shutter – 5%
iso – 5%
time – 5%
exposure – 5%


saturation capacity. The range of saturation a camera has at certain ISO levels.

ansel adams – zone system of understanding exposure.

Graham uses

  • center-weighted metering – 95% of time.
  • spot metering – 5%
  • matrix metering – 0%

Answer: where you focus doesn’t affect exposure.

Q. When your object juts out to the sky, AND you’re on high elevation, good for polarizer.

Exposing to the right. ETTR. Overexpose the image to capture more data (can be shown in post processing).
ETTL – underexposing.

3.23.14 Composition Workshop

by An. 0 Comments

– rule of 3rds, s curves
– leveling
– looking at histograms?
– focusing in on a small part if image is too busy
– sunrise/sunset time
– white balance

normal lens
wide angle lens

carbon fiber = lighter, more expensive

graduated neutral density filters – half opaque/half transparent glass to balance a pic
light leaking
lens hood – to block out direct light

Mussel Rock shoot

IMG_6600 copy IMG_6528