I left My Heart in…Where Else?

Today’s Post by Ken MacAdams

San Francisco wasn’t our destination, but a layover. Our time here would be short, but why not sample a slice of this grand city? Leveraging our time, we located the airport Bay Area Rapid Transit station and hopped aboard. 30 minutes later we exited at Embarcadero, surfacing on historic Market Street. The clanging departure bell of the iconic, old wooden trolley reminded us we wouldn’t be able to see it all!

To our east lay the historic Ferry Building and Farmer’s Market, opened in 1898. Spreading northward from Ferry building, the old ship piers, like stubby fingers on a hand, still find use today as departure/arrival points for ferry’s, cruise ships, and merchant craft. At the northern end lay our Bay destination, the renowned Fisherman’s Wharf. We boarded the ‘F’ tram, a quaint 1950’s streetcar in search of Pier 39, our evening destination.

Debarking from the trolley, we were engulfed in a sea of humanity! At the mouth of Pier 39, a DJ was spinning discs, people were dancing, clowns were writhing, a stilt man jiving above everyone’s head, and other costume clad characters posed with children, while iPhone armed parents made quick snaps. There would be no lack of amusement or attraction here!

The north end of Pier 39 provides an excellent location to watch the sunset. Finding a spot along the pier railing, Mary and I stood watching as the last rays of sunlight played softly on the puffy clouds drifting over the bay. The beauty of the passing sunset was replaced by the charm of the lights beginning to appear on the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, which danced delicately across the bay toward us.  

Pier 39 has marinas on both the East and West side. Docked in the West Marina was the Rocket Boat, which seasonally, takes you into the Bay for an exhilarating high speed thrill ride of twists and turns. More sedate excursions to the Bay Bridge and Alcatraz can be had on the Blue & Gold fleet of ferries. The marinas can accommodate up to 300 watercraft.

After the exertion of walking the pier, it’s hard to resist dining! Choices range from the Hard Rock Cafe, Players Sports Grill, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, to the Chart House, the Chowder Hut, and many more; it’s surf and turf at its finest! These establishments line the pier offering dining, drinks, games, and views of the bay.

After-dinner attractions abound. On the north end is a promenade, where you’ll spot the San Francisco Carousel. This two-story carousel, intricately painted and handcrafted in Italy, is decorated with thousands of twinkling lights. Animated adults and children await a turn to ride! Nearby, costumed female gymnast performed acts high on a pole. On the Pier, the night was young. The human tide, like the surf, rose and abated.   The festivities would continue long into the night – but we had a flight to catch.

For evening/nighttime street shooting like this, I let my ISO range on Automatic, with a cap of 3200. Most images were shot at f/5.6, in Aperture mode, which lets my shutter speed fluctuate. When composing a shot, watch for bright lights in the image, as they will fool your metering in underexposure. With the assortment of light sources there2neon, fluorescent, incandescent and halogen—I set White Balance for Automatic. Images shot with a Panasonic Lumix G85, G Vario 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH Power OIS lens. This lens is proving to be a great all around travel lens for me, with excellent sharpness, portability, and light weight.

Ed Note: In the weeks to come, Ken will be reporting live from the ancient City of Xi’an in China. Look for these posts for a new spin on travel photography with mirrorless cameras.