San Francisco 2023 Workshop Recap

It’s taken me forever to find the time to edit the SF workshop images but here they are!

As always, I had a fantastic group (you can see some of their shots here). And it was fun to explore this city for the 2nd year in a row with a few slight adjustments to the itinerary this time around.

Alright, let’s jump in.

Day 1

We had planned to start the day at the Golden Gate Bridge but as is common in SF it was pretty foggy all morning so we decided to start with the beautiful City Hall.

As is typical when I shoot older, more ornate architecture I tend to default to symmetry to make a bit more order out of what can feel overwhelming with all the patterns. Black & white can help with this too.

I’ve made images here a few times so I decided to go with more details this time around as opposed to going super wide as I have in the past.

The weather cleared a bit so we were off to the GGB. Again, after a number of visits, back to smaller details.

New this year, the de Young Museum (Herzog & de Mueron). I don’t find this building super easy to photograph but it does have some nice angles and one area that can make for some good reflections of the building back onto itself.

There’s also the James Turrell piece – Three Gems, which is always fun to photograph. Especially when you’re graced with bright blue skies to act as a nice contrast with the salmon color.

Another new stop this year and the final stop of the day – The Palace of Fine Arts. Originally constructed for the 1915 Panama–Pacific International Exposition to exhibit works of art it was completely rebuilt from 1964 to 1974. It’s the only structure from the exposition that remains and is meant to evoke a decaying ruin of ancient Rome.

Actually, one more stop for the day – 140 New Montgomery. Very ornate, very moody.

Day 2

We started in Yerba Buena Gardens and I grabbed a couple of Urban Quilt shots. The first being the mixed patterns of the exteriors of SFMOMA.

Then, into SFMOMA. A great art museum but also pretty fantastic architecture (Snohetta).

First, a lookup of the Olafur Eliasson installation at the top of the skylight in the entrance. Sadly, unreachable because a new exhibit was being installed. Paired with a look at this one area with some pink lighting, layers, reflections, and staircases that caught my attention for most of the visit.

More pieces of the stairs.

And, loved this security guard and his cane through this window along with all the reflections.

A couple more Urban Quilt shots before the next interior.

Time for another museum – The Contemporary Jewish Museum (Daniel Libeskind). Finally, the cube area of this museum was open or the Yud Gallery. On my previous two visits, the area was closed for a new installation.

The reason I wanted to get in here so badly is because the inspiration behind the design is really fascinating. From the museums’ website “Yud Gallery reaching at its peak some 65 feet high, symbolically representing the Hebrew letter yud. This floating gallery mimics the form of the yud, the only Hebrew letter that floats above the line. This mystical letter begins the Hebrew words for Jew, God, (or G-d) and Jerusalem, and is the second letter in the word chai for life. The ascending, dynamic movement up to the light-filled yud shape creates a compelling space for experiencing performances and artist installations. 

There are 36 diamond-shaped windows in the Yud Gallery; 36 equals twice eighteen or double chai. In Jewish culture, multiples of 18 are considered good luck. There is also a mystical belief that in every generation there are 36 hidden righteous people who receive the divine presence. They are called the lamed vovniks, meaning the 36ers in Yiddish. The multiple windows also symbolize multiple perspectives.”

So, that’s a lot going on and beyond my real comprehension but glad I finally saw it!

The next two are from the stairwell.

Onto lunch, followed by the Salesforce Transit Center. Honestly, one of the more difficult pieces of architecture to photograph. I only got one new image that I liked. It has some great curves but they’re hard to isolate.

This next one, just like the way the light was interacting with the facade.

Only one shot from the Palace Hotel this time around. At the time of its opening, it was the largest, most expensive hotel in the world and had luxuries like hydraulic elevators and AC, which were uncommon at the time. The lobby is gorgeous, though this shot doesn’t really convey that.

Onto the lobby of 450 Sutter. A very ornate, Aztec-influenced, Art Deco design in here. The ceiling is particularly interesting.

Next up, Columbus Tower. Made of white tile and copper it’s solidly in its oxidation phase.

Final stop of day 2 – The Transamerica Pyramid (William Pereira) & still undergoing restorations/renovations by Foster + Partners. A fun take on brutalism with this one!

Had a little fun with those crisscrossing beams.

Day 3

Starting with more brutalism with one of the Pacific Gas & Electric Co buildings.

Usually prefer brutalism in B&W but like the color contrast of the background building with this one.

Now, for one of my favorites – MIRA (Studio Gang). The twisting, sculptural facade is meant to evoke the bay windows SF is known for + allowing more light and views of the bay into each unit.

Here’s a look at it reflected in the building across the street.

Per usual, can’t decide between color and BW so here you go!

This next take, feels like a mix of the first two versions.

Back to some brutalism with the Hyatt Regency San Franciso. I’ve never shot this area of the outside but there was some nice shadowplay this visit so it caught my eye in a way is hasn’t before. Just one reason to revisit locations.

Moving inside, the lobby/atrium is massive and open. This time, I played around with different angles of the railings and th geometric patterns created by how they overlap in certain areas.

Of course, couldn’t pass up the Charles O. Perry Sphere. A look at a piece of it + an ICM take on the same area.

There are lights shining on the surface that continuously change. Hence the varying hues you see from shot to shot. Oh, and another “straight” vs ICM look.

So many areas of this hotel to photograph! The other side + The Tulip sculpture.

Some stairway reflections + a look at the Le Meridien SF.

Shadows & patterns that caught my eye near the LMSF and the zigzagging pattern of the staircase at Grace Cathedral.

One of my favorite locations – The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption (Pietro Belluschi). They changed the lighting on this modern sculpture at the center of the alter and it really changed how this space feels.

We lucked out with sun all day which, IMO, makes for better images on the exterior. From something as simple as the staircase and its railings to the curves and angles of the roofline.

We wrapped things up with a quick stop by the Painted Ladies. A location I find it basically impossible to get a new/unique take on. Oh well, cool view to see regardless.



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