How to photograph Half Moon Bay

HMB Pumpkin truck
Half Moon Bay is a favorite getaway destination for the stressed-out San Francisco Bay area workforce. The town and its surrounding area offer everything you could possibly want to spend a few cheerful hours between weeks of crushing work. Fine dining, local attractions, organic produce, shopping, surfing, rich colorful nature and spectacular beach scenery are some of the more popular things people come for. Among all this buzzling activity, you will still be able to find solitude on the trails.

Half Moon Bay is also famous for their yearly pumpkin festival and the numerous pumpkin patches all around the town. Street photographers will have a good time as the town drowns in orange and the streets are full of happy people smiling a broad smile into your camera.

Obviously, if you aren’t restricted to weekend short trips, or if you are visiting from further away, you should come here during the week, to enjoy everyhing the town has to offer without interruption and traffic jams.
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How to photograph from Corona Heights Park

Corona Heights

Corona Heights Park is the only place in San Francisco that offers a true 360 degree unobstructed vista. The former quarry does not show up in most guidebooks. Corona Heights is thus, mostly a local hang out spot and a dog’s playground.

The rocks are easy to climb, yet steep enough for superb unobstructed views. Randall Museum is located on the grounds of the park. It too has breathtaking views.

Corona Heights is the ideal place for scenic photography. Its views are less familiar than those of nearby Twin Peaks, yet often more spectacular.
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Taking great pictures on top of the Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate South Tower

Golden Gate South Tower

Take brilliant pictures of San Francisco from the top of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The iconic Golden Gate Bridge that spans the waters where the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean meet, symbolizes the Gold Rush and wealth of the Golden State of California. San Francisco’s most recognizable landmark is also its biggest tourist attraction. Featured in every travel publication, the Golden Gate Bridge is the most photographed attraction in California.

Although it is hardly possible to photograph this icon in a novel way, the hike across the bridge promises some distinct compositions that are harder to find than the most typical overview photographs. Hiking on this majestic bridge also lets you appreciate the marvelous accomplishment that this bridge represents.

Take the walking tour across the windswept bay and enjoy some of the best views the city has to offer!
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How to photograph Fort Mason

Fort Mason roofs and Palace of Fine Arts

Fort Mason roofs and Palace of Fine Arts

Located on a small hilltop overlooking the entrance to San Francisco Bay, Fort Mason was the obvious choice for defensive fortifications. In the age of high tech weaponry, Fort Mason still makes a formidable base for high tech shooters of a different kind, photographers.

Throughout the years, the fort was home to Spanish and American troops and earthquake refugees and served as a port of embarkation for World War II.

Fort Mason is divided into the upper Fort, where attractive white wooden buildings house the Golden Gate National Park Headquarters and a Hostel, and the Fort Mason Center, which encompasses the covered piers and warehouses, now transformed into venues for every imaginable occasion. The pavilions, theaters, and meeting rooms host a number of cultural highlights, tradeshows, and galleries.
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How to photograph Alcatraz

Alcatraz Cellhouse Broadway

Alcatraz Cellhouse Broadway

Alcatraz, the infamous penitentiary, is visible from the hills and beaches of San Francisco. It is San Francisco’s second most famous tourist destination, after the Golden Gate Bridge. Deceptively beautiful from a distance, the sheer cliffs, icy cold water, and treacherous currents made escapes from “The Rock” a futile attempt.

Authorities sent only the hardest criminals to this maximum-security facility. Among its famous residents were former Chicago mobster Al “Scarface” Capone, murderer George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and snitch Theodore “Blackie” Audett. The design of “The Rock” served to intimidate the criminals while it simultaneously reminded them of their lost freedom, due to the close proximity to San Francisco.

Today, Alcatraz still grips morbidly fascinated visitors, while offering unique opportunities for photographers. The dark dungeons of the cellblock let you create spectacular images that set a gloomy tone. The absence of natural predators like coyotes makes the island a preferred breeding ground for sea birds. The colorful wildflowers provide an unexpected foreground for the decaying concrete and steel buildings.
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San Juan Bautista

Flower Pots

The attractive Mission San Juan Bautista and the equally named charming small town surrounding it are easy to miss if you don’t already know its location. San Francisco Bay Area residents therefore consider the town one of their insider secrets, a place to relax, to shop, and to eat.

Art stores, antiquities shops, and restaurants line the narrow streets, each competing for your dollars. Unusual characters and harmless but grim looking bikers mingle at the saloon, just next door to the ice cream parlor filled with the excited noise of children begging their parents for sweet treats. San Juan Bautista’s rich, colorful street scenes seem made for photography.

Most visitors come to see Mission San Juan Bautista, the main attraction of the city. Founded 1797, the mission was the largest of the 21 California Missions. The mission is still active today, continuously serving the parish. Its lush gardens are an oasis of color and its bell tower and St. John statue are well-recognized symbols. The mission and nearby buildings of San Juan Bautista State Park are relics from different periods. An old west hotel, horse stables, Plaza Hall and Castro-Breen Adobe provide a unique insight into the old West and provide a great way to complement your portfolio of photographs.

San Juan Bautista has a lot to offer to the casual visitor. Many of its sights reveal their secrets only at the second glance, providing hours fun for exploration.
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Soledad Mission

Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad

Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad is the thirteenth California Mission. This very small mission does not receive the attention of its more famous sisters. It lies within the Salinas Valley Farmlands that once were dry and inhospitable.

Once a larger mission, the adobe buildings crumbled after its abandonment for over a century, leaving only small piles of rubble and remnants of walls. Some of the original remains are still visible behind the museum, but they are not very photogenic.

Although Soledad Mission is not as attractive as others are, it is only a small detour from Highway 101 and therefore always worth a quick stop. If you are weary of traveling and happen to be in the Salinas area, Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad is the perfect stop.
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Point Reyes Lighthouse and Chimney Rock

red queen fungus

Point Reyes Lighthouse is perched on a steep cliff in the windiest place on the Pacific Coast and the foggiest place in California. Despite the unusual weather, the lighthouse is a favorite destination for visitors. Located on the westernmost outcrop of Point Reyes National Seashore, the lighthouse is also the best location for whale watching from land.

Chimney Rock is a similar outcrop, on the opposite side of the tip of Point Reyes’ peninsula, at Drakes Bay. It is a narrow stretch of land of unbelievable beauty. Surrounded by deep blue and turquoise sea, this small peninsula is vividly colorful during spring, when carpets of wildflowers cover portions of the lush green pastures.

It is not a secret how picturesque this portion of Point Reyes is. Consequently, you will have a lot of competition for your photographs. Despite the large number of visitors, both locations still are exceptional photographic treasures that you shouldn’t miss.
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Mission San Miguel Arcangel

San Miguel Archangel Mission

Despite its convenient location along a well-traveled path, San Miguel Arcangel Mission is an often-overlooked photographic treasure. Due to recent earthquakes, the old mission used to be in a desolate condition. The mission church was long closed with the thread of an immanent collapse looming over it. Today the church has reopened, owing to extensive restoration projects funded through donations.

The decay that threatens the very existence of this mission also makes it one of the most appealing ones to photograph. Crumbling walls, rusting ornaments, and peeling paint give it an authentic old feeling that some other missions lack. While you walk through the old mission remnants, you can feel the age of the buildings.

Simply plan a stop on your next trip along Highway 101, you won’t regret it.
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How to photograph Mission Santa Barbara

Font - Santa Barbara Mission

Known as the “Queen of the Missions”, Santa Barbara Mission is a primary tourist attraction in Santa Barbara, a Spanish style coastal town in Southern California. The parish church is still in use today.

The façade of the mission and the nearby rose garden are popular backgrounds for wedding photography, whereas the mission grounds and the architecture are the main subjects for travel photographers and tourists interested in early California history.

The location of the Santa Barbara Mission sets it apart from all other California Missions. It sits atop a small hill, exposing it to a cool breeze from the ocean. The nearby Santa Ynez Mountains provide a wonderful backdrop for panoramic images while the rose garden is a popular foreground motif for mission photographs.

I highly recommend spending some time around the waterfront to soak up the cool relaxed atmosphere of Santa Barbara before photographing the mission. Take advantage of the location.
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