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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lunch and the Municipal Pier at San Francisco's Aquatic Park

I'd heard of Aquatic Park before. I knew it was somewhere in San Francisco. Little did I know that I'd been across the street from it on many, many occasions. I also didn't know that San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park is SF's Aquatic Park. It encompasses more than just the Maritime Museum and water beside it. It includes everything north of Beach Street between Hyde and (the end of) Van Ness Blvd.

So, hubby and I decided to head up to San Francisco a few days ago to take pictures at Aquatic Park.

First came lunch. While we'd planned to eat at McCormick and Kuleto's, where we'd eaten the past two years on trips to the city, after being kind of snubbed by the hostess and totally snubbed by the waitress we left and walked across the way to Lori's Diner at Ghirardelli Square. They were also busy but we were immediately greeted by a waitress from behind the counter who said she'd be with us in just a minute. In less than a minute she was walking us to a table. It was nice to receive great customer service, especially on a busy day.

Lori's is a very cute, quintessential dine. Our waiter appeared promptly after we were seated and took our orders. I had an ALT (avocado, lettuce and tomato) sandwich loaded with so much avocado it was spilling out of the sides.

The restaurant even has a Bay view. Looking out the window reminded me of this photo I took just last month while attending the Fairmont Hotel's open house at Heritage Place, which is part of Ghirardelli Square.

That's Alcatraz at sunset in the center of the picture and what looks like a pirate's ship in the right foreground. Our destination after lunch  was to walk out to the end of the pier you see on the left with the round structure just peeking out from behind the branches. It's San Francisco's Municipal Pier where Van Ness Ave ends and meets McDowell Road.

You reach it by crossing Beach Street in front of Ghirardelli Square and walk westward along  the water following Van Ness Ave.

Soon you'll see this building on stilts along the water's edge.

It's the Sea Scout Base for the Maritime Heritage Learning Center. We stopped and took photos of it, hubby from the lawn at street level and me, climbing down onto a plateaued sea wall.

The pilings, water and shadows were fun to photograph.

As we made our way along Van Ness there were plenty of photo opportunities. The large pirate looking ship is a Balclutha. It was launched in 1886 from Scotland. It's a three-masted, steel-hulled, square-rigged cargo ship. It's very picturesque and you can't help but to notice it when you gaze out towards the Bay from Ghirardellli Square.

Turning my camera the opposite direction I spotted this nice bit of architecture. I wanted to photograph it mostly because it was backlit and since learning how to shoot in manual mode I've been very intrigued to learn more about backlit photography. Especially when combined with a hazy kind of day.

Here's a view of the Municipal Pier at the end of Van Ness from the westward side.

It arcs to the right creating a semi-circle shape.

As you enter the gates to the pier you'll see Alcatraz straight ahead.

I love this shot. The small boats lead the viewer's eye towards Coit Tower in the distance creating a nice compositional flow. I especially loved the way the reflection of the closest white boat looks like a water color painted in the waves.

On the other side of the pier you can see Alcatraz in the distance. Due to atmospheric conditions (stagnant air) combined with a lot of people burning wood in their fireplaces over the holiday the haze from air pollution was very noticeable all the way from San Jose to San Francisco.

Playing with my camera I experimented shooting the light posts along the pier. This was facing northward with the sun hitting the post and light. Pretty, but I wanted to try more backlighting so I came up with two variations.

The first, facing south, is of the light with the sun aligned directly behind the glass cover at the top giving it an intense glow.

The second is a different light post with the sun placed directly behind the middle of the post. I like this one better because it shows the transparency of the glass cover.

I thought I'd like this photo as black and white so I converted it using the Image+Mode+Greyscale to turn it into a black and white picture in Adobe Photoshop. I think it looks rather timeless and all of that air pollution haze with just the tiniest rays of lens flare gives the image an ethereal look I really love.

For the curious: All images were shot RAW in manual mode with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 camera and zoom 14-140mm lens. For the blog they were rendered as .JPG files in Photoshop.

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