A week in San Francisco with the Fuji X100s

FromMandarinOriental-4 (The quintessential San Francisco view.  The pyramid building, Coit Tower, Alcatraz, and of course Fog)

Three weeks ago today I returned from San Francisco, where I spent 5 days on a photography vacation.  San Francisco is an amazing city, one I have visited many, many times.   Prior to this trip I had been insanely busy with work, family and business and this was an opportunity to be by myself, indulge in my photography, and visit with a close friend who now lives in Silicon Valley. I travelled extremely light, taking only my beloved Fuji X100s and a small travel tripod.  I will be making a blog post about that travel kit, which will be accompanying me from now on when I travel. I actually have many blog posts to make from this trip, but for now I wanted to share 20 of my favourite images I took that week.  These are in no particular order, and some will be the foundation of future blog posts! Click any photo to view larger!

BayBridgePano-13 (The Bay Bridge at Dawn.  4 image pano, stitched together in Photoshop)

 There are some cities you go to that have a soul.   San Francisco is definitely one of those places, and of course one of its most iconic landmarks is the Golden Gate Bridge: DSCF4356-15

DSCF4393-16 (The Golden Gate Bridge from Battery Spencer)

 San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America.  The people are amazing, and when the light wasn’t suitable for sunrise and sunset photography I spent most of my time there doing street photography: DSCF4328-14 DSCF3857-2Here is a full blog post about street photography in San Francisco’s Chinatown. I would estimate I spent 10-12 hours per day wandering with my Fuji X100s, just snapping images of things that caught my eye like this amazing staircase:

DSCF3891-3(The stairs at the Mechanic’s Institute)

I think one of the things I love the most in San Francisco is the wide variety of architecture you see.  This is the Palace of Fine Arts, built for the 1915 Panama Pacific Exhibition:

PalacePano-6(Palace of Fine Arts, 3 picture pano stitched together in Photoshop)

Fall in San Francisco is usually great, but the weather was exceptionally good while I was there.  This was taken at Baker Beach while I was shooting some landscapes of the Golden Gate:

DSCF4035-8(One of 8 frames shot on the Fuji X100s in continuous auto-focus mode)

One cannot go to San Francisco without going to Alcatraz, one of the most iconic places in the US.

CellBLockPano-17(5 picture pano of the prison yard, stitched in Photoshop.  Those steps are where people like Al Capone sat.  Crazy!)

If you do a trip to Alcatraz, be sure to go upstairs if possible and see the hospital ward.  Very creepy.


Here is a full blog post about my visit to photograph Alcatraz.

 I spent a day wandering around the west side of the city.  This is one of a series I made (see here for the full blog post) at the Holocaust Memorial at the Legion of Honor:


I’ve been to Golden Gate Park several times in the past, but this is the first time I have seen the Dutch Windmill:


Finally, I spent time at the ruins at Sutro Bath and shot through blue hour.  It was fogged in, but there were several moments where the small amount of light that broke through was magical:



 The National Cemetery in the Presidio is a military cemetery, and was a very solemn place to visit:


As was Grace Cathedral:


I spent my last evening at Pier 14, shooting a skyline looking back down the pier at the city.

Pier14Pano-19(3 picture pano, stitched in Photoshop)

My last shot of the night was a long exposure shooting across the water at the Ferry Building:


And my final view, the BART station at SFO airport after I got off the train to fly home:


Some people would argue that traveling light with only one small mirrorless camera (and one fixed focal length lens) would be limiting, but I found it liberating.  The lack of gear selection forced me to focus on composition, framing, light, and of course timing.

Much of my time on this trip was inspired by a new series David Hobby has called The Traveling Photographer.  It is available on Lynda.com and I highly recommend it.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post I have several blog posts from this trip to write up.  The one thing that comes to mind as I write this though is to remind everyone about this quote:

“The way to make better photographs is to have better experiences”

I love my family, dog, friends, job, etc…. but spending 5 days by myself let me just be a photographer again.  For those of you who love to create I cannot say enough how important this is to your craft and creativity.

 Until next time!

11 thoughts on “A week in San Francisco with the Fuji X100s

  1. yourweeklymusic says:

    Where’d you take that first skyline photo from? The one with the Transamerica Pyramid Building. Great view, great capture!

  2. flokon says:

    Very nice series. And I totally have to agree on the one-camera-one-lens setup. While I maintain different systems, digital, and analogue alike, I ALWAYS travel with just once camera, and one focal length. Many lament overhow many images they might miss without the proper lenses, and whatnot. I am more the person who laments over missed experiences while traveling because photography took a too prominent place during journeys.

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