Industrial Urban Decay | San Francisco – Central Waterfront, Dogpatch, Bayview, Hunter’s Point

A few images from a recent jaunt and scouting trip in San Francisco’s Central Waterfront, Dogpatch, Bayview, and Hunter’s Point neighborhoods. I love the industrial feel of these places and definitely expect to use every little nook and cranny at some point for some really cool gritty photoshoot locations. Broken down rusty truck trailers, decommissioned factories, rotting buildings and shipyards abound. It’s a treat for the urban/industrial decay connoisseur.

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See the full gallery here.

The Great Highway Panoramas | Ocean Beach, San Francisco

I was on a recent real estate shoot in the Outer Sunset of SF and part of the assignment was to capture some of the surrounding area, landscape, city scenes, Golden Gate Park, etc. for the listing. Just in time to finish the exterior shots of the home, in typical not in the forecast but it happens out of nowhere San Francisco weather, it starts to rain. And not just a foggy drizzle, a full on big drop shower. Still determined to capture something to pull this one off, I hid under trees while I made a few neighborhood snaps and headed down to Ocean Beach to make some panos of the beach and the city from the top of the dunes. I came away with two pretty cool panoramic shots and confirmation of the desire to continue to incorporate this type of photography into every shoot going forward. Where there’s a expansive view, there’s a panorama to be made!

Click images for larger views.

Full gallery here.

Instagram :: April 2011

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April had 27 images.

You can find me on Instagram as nialldavid.

A great way to keep up on Instagram images is Webstagram.

See the full gallery from April here.

Time Lapse Photography of Foggy San Francisco Bay from the Top of Nob Hill

Click the play button above to watch embedded video, or for an high res experience, follow this link to watch the 16:9 HD version on Vimeo.

1400 images over 5 hours, 10 seconds apart, compressed to a minute and a half 🙂

I decided to play a role in this one, alongside a glass of our favorite Husch Sauvignon Blanc and a Rolling Stone magazine. It was WINDY & COLD up there, and a misty drizzly rain started falling when I decided to leave my post, as evidenced by the mist on the lens filter in the video about mid-way through. Instead of bail on the project, I cleaned the filter, tightly plastic bagged the camera and let ‘er roll! Was a fun way to capture the afternoon and early part of the night.

What I’ve learned about time lapse photography over the past few years:

  • Prepare everything in advance. When you’re going to do it, how you’re going to set it up, your composition, etc. Otherwise you end up moving the camera or making other changes on the fly. Follow up point: be willing to adapt. Nothing sucks worse than planning for a 5 hour exposure and then realizing that when you used the lens hood to attach a plastic bag to protect your camera from drizzly rain falling upon it, you left it partially in the frame for 30 minutes of exposures…
  • Use a solid tripod. I never use a tripod in my professional work, so the one I have sucks, it’s one I got as a gift from someone in college like 10 years ago… and in the borderline hurricane force winds on our roof above the Bay, a weak tripod will wiggle and shake as you expose the camera over a long period of time. You can argue that artistically it adds to the experience… but if I had $400 in my photography budget for a nice tripod, I’d have lugged that puppy up there with a big fat sandbag and saved myself some shakin’.
  • There’s no way you’re going to sit there clicking the shutter for each exposure, so use an intervalometer. This gives you time to enjoy the view, run downstairs to fill up your glass of wine, have dinner with your girlfriend, watch an episode of Law & Order SVU, and still have 878 frames left in your sequence… I’m blessed with a sometimes annoying to set up, but conveniently built in intervalometer with my camera. Many new DSLRs have this option built in. On my camera (and possibly yours) the option is placed under the “shooting menu” accurately titled “interval timer shooting.” They all setup a little differently, so poke around your menus or your camera manual until you figure it out. For example, the Nikon D700 has you choose 1) the interval, then 2) # of shots, so you have to do some math depending on how long you want your time lapse to be… (for reference, when you create your image sequence, you’ll want anywhere from at least 15 frames per second to 30 frames per second, so plan accordingly).
  • When possible (and it wasn’t really in this video), use slower shutter speeds for your individual exposures. This will make the “video” you’re creating come together in a smoother fashion as each frame will drag easier into the next, much like, wait for it… a motion picture.
  • When shooting faster moving objects (windy days with clouds moving quickly overhead, sports, etc.) use a smaller interval. You can use a longer one with more static, slower changing elements, or when studying glacial movement over a number of years like these guys: Extreme Ice Survey.
  • Shoot in JPEG. Unless you feel like converting thousands of RAW images into a format your time lapse program can read (and if that’s your idea of a good time, good on ya mate), keep it simple. I chose a 10 second interval here, and ended up with 1400 image files to put together, but if I had used a 1 second interval for the same time period, I would have had 14,000… I’ll get there, just not right now.
  • Unless you’re making a career in it, you can use free software on the web, or give Apple another $30 of your hard earned money and purchase Quicktime 7 Pro. I used QT 7 Pro for both of the time lapse vids on my site. It’s easy to put all of the images in one folder, open the image sequence, and make the magic happen.

A couple of resources I have found useful:

The first time lapse I did from our roof lives here: http://nialldavid.com/2010/05/golden-gate-time-lapse/ I’ll have to do a sunset one soon. Tonight would have been a good night… Until next time!

Whitney Nichole and Keeley Valentino Rain or Shine Tour Photographs

Two fantastic singer-songwriters ask you to make fun images for their upcoming tour. Schedules are busy and one day when we were hanging out we decide we have 1 hour to plan, find a location, setup, and make 20 images. If you’re lucky you end up with what we have here:

Always a pleasure to photograph Whitney Nichole and Keeley Valentino. Amazing songwriters, performers and great, fun loving people. Catch them on a stop in a city near you in February 2011!

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See the full image gallery here.

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San Francisco Skyline – Nighttime Views from Treasure Island

I don’t often go to Treasure Island, but today I just wanted to get out for a drive, and it seemed like the place to visit. A short jaunt from San Francisco, and dramatically placed right in the middle of the San Francisco Bay is the site of one of the most awe inspiring views of the city in the entire area. Second to only the Berkeley hills, this can’t be beat. Plus, if you’re already in SF, you can get there and back sans toll. I highly recommend this trip, worth it’s weight in unforgettable scenery of the City by the Bay.

I didn’t get out of the house until close to 4pm, but it was just enough time to get out there to catch the last few rays of sunset. I decided I wanted to get there for sunset, but once I arrived, I decided I’d stick around until after dark to catch some nighttime shots of the skyline. It was worth the wait, and the battering winds and extreme windchill… to capture some views on one of the first weekends with the holiday lights on.

I totally froze my butt off, but it was a nice way to spend some time semi-alone just working the long exposures. My tripod is crap and hopefully someday soon I can upgrade. I’d likely need to sandbag  50 pound scaffolding to withstand these winds without blur at 30 seconds +, but for now it’s cheapo Focal tripod to the rescue. Was cool to get out there at night again. This is also one of the few galleries where I include multiple versions of the same capture. I had a little fun with the post-processing on a few of these so included a few versions of a couple of them. Hope you enjoy 🙂

See the full gallery here.

Photographer’s notes: Nikon D700; ISO 100; Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens; F/8; Exposures between 2 seconds and 20 seconds.

Update – 1/5/2011 : A lesson in SEO. Set your filenames, headers/titles, keywords/tags, and categories (in that order of priority) and search engines will find you. Search Google for “best place to see sf skyline by night.” Yesterday I was the top hit. http://www.google.com/search?q=best+place+to+see+san+francisco+skyline+at+night&sourceid=ie7&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox&ie=&oe=. Very cool.

Sunrise View over the San Francisco Bay at NDP

The sun rises over the San Francisco Bay on October 14, 2010. Air moves fast by the coast, and the clouds are often wispy and long. They don’t ever quite get this pillowy and cottonbally, so even though there were still a few hours of bedtime to be had before heading into this day, I just had to jump out of bed, grab my camera and make a few images of the sun rising over the city. I don’t quite expect that we shall see these puffy clouds again any time soon…

Fantastic day to be alive.

The Portable Sun Workshop with Raul Touzon – September 2010

Images from The Portable Sun Workshop with National Geographic photographer Raul Touzon. Had a great 4 days hanging out with Raul and the rest of the students while we sat in on classroom lectures and photographed models by the Sutro Baths and Clarion Alley in the Mission. Thanks Raul, I am a new photographer again! Thanks to Christine Zona for producing the event.

See the full gallery here.