San Francisco Workshop Recap 2022

The inaugural San Francisco workshop! We spent 3 days checking out the city’s best architecture from the museums, highrises, and, of course, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

Lucky me, I had another fantastic group! About half have been on a workshop with me before and the other half were first-timers. A few locals and the others from all over the U.S.

Let’s dive in!

Day 1

We started around noon on Friday and spent a couple of hours exploring the historic City Hall. This place is truly stunning. No surprise there were countless weddings occurring during our time there.

Last time I visited I spent a lot of time photographing the dome, this time I spent my time focusing on some of the other details.

Onto the must-see, Golden Gate Bridge. We spent quite a bit of time here. Mostly, on the north end and on the actual bridge, walking to the first tower.

It was so insanely windy! I know it’s generally windy near the water but this was worse than I’ve ever experienced it there. Sure made for a noisy and chilly walk. But so worth it for some close-up shots and views of the bay from the bridge!

We then headed over to the Marin Headlands, which ended up being very short-lived with the insane wind. Here are a couple of shots I managed along with some of the students bracing themselves against the crazy wind.

Day 2

We started the morning in Yerba Buena Gardens. Great reflections of the MLK Jr Memorial in the fountain.

Now for a couple of museums. First, SFMOMA with quite a bit of time having some ICM fun with Olafur Eliasson’s One-way Color Tunnel.

A couple of non-ICM shots…

Some great shadow shots both inside and outside the Snøhetta-designed addition.

A short walk over the Daniel Libeskind-designed Contemporary Jewish Museum. So many great angles in here and we lucked out with sunlight to add some shadowy layers. I also gave the shots a bluer white balance, just for fun.

Just before lunch, we shot this shiny, patterned facade of, what I believe is, the Four Seasons Residences.

After a lunch break, we stumbled upon this alley with these really fun, colorful seating areas.

Onto the Salesforce Transit Center by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. There’s this great park on the roof spanning the entire length of the center. Lots of green space, playground equipment, paths, etc. Good views of the surrounding architecture, too, of course!

As we exited on the north end there’s this cool atrium. Can feel very sci-fi.

A random look-up on our walk to the next location.

Moving onto something old – the Palace Hotel. Completed in 1875, it was the largest and most expensive hotel in the world at that time. Isn’t it beautiful?!

Another San Francisco icon from various vantage points – The Transamerica Building designed by William Pereira and completed in 1972. It was the tallest building in SF until the Salesforce Tower was completed in 2018. This is a great example of brutalism and has some interesting vantage points near and far.

Looks very pyramid-like from the street in front of it.

Up close, I really loved the column detailing. Normally, I love brutalism in BW but the late afternoon light cast this really nice, soft glow on the concrete which contrasts well with the soft blue sky and the heaviness of the concrete.

Nearby, Columbus Tower. Another icon and a flatiron building made of copper. During prohibition Cesar’s Grill opened in the basement, later became the Hungry i (a standup comedy nightclub), and then was the studio for the Kingston Trio through the 60s.

The facade has some great patterns.

Day 3

Starting with some more brutalism, we stopped by the Pacific Gas & Electric building on Folsum. Great curves and patterns. Also, a nice contrast to a neighboring building behind.

Now for a favorite of the workshop – MIRA by Studio Gang Architects. They drew inspiration from San Francisco’s historic bay windows. Creating a modern take on this with the twisting facade.

It sure makes for some fun photographing. So many options on how to isolate the patterns, angles, and curves of this beauty!

This last example is a bit of an exploration in editing choices. I started with high-key color, then a high-key BW conversion, and then felt like it might work well as a more contrasty, dramatic BW as well.

Takes on completely different moods depending on which image you view. The fun of editing!

Now for an excellent example of brutalism – The Hyatt Regency. So many fantastic lines, a cool elevator situation, and a fun sculpture (Shere by Charles O. Perry). You could spend hours in here!

After a lunch break, we headed back to the exteriors of the Hyatt and this winding walkway up to John Portman’s (he’s also responsible for the Hyatt building) The Tulip sculpture.

First, the glass walkway created some fun reflections. I decided to go for a dramatic, moody edit. The curved glass panels were reflecting on other areas of the glass creating these ghost-like patterns + there’s the brickwork layered in.

Here are a couple of takes on The Tulip. The first one also has the Bay Bridge in the background.

A layered look at the SF Le Meridien, another brutalist design by John Portman.

After a short cable car ride up California St we photographed Grace Cathedral and The Chambord.

Then for another church – The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption. While Grace Cathedral was Gothic, this is Modernism at its best (designed by Pietro Belluschi).

Starting inside with the incredible ceiling and stained glass.

There are these incredible, massive pylons at the 4 corners of the church meant to withstand 10 million pounds of pressure. Not sure if that’s earthquake-related but they’re pretty impressive!

Here’s a look at the exterior. We didn’t spend a whole lot of time out here because we had very little sun by the time we made our way there. Here are a couple of shots I managed.

A short walk away is Japantown and the Peace Pagoda. A little ICM and high-key editing to deal with the high level of dirt on its surface.

Our final stop of the day, The Painted Ladies. I always struggle with even wanting to photograph cityscapes or the touristy/postcard-type locations. It’s hard to find something unique unless you happen upon a really unusual weather situation. And, this we were not lucky enough to encounter. It had become pretty overcast so I decided to try some ICM again. This time, panning up was the one that worked, of many, many shots made.

And, here’s the Full House vantage point. If you remembe the opening credits 😉

Huge thanks to the amazing group that joined me for the long weekend!



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