My Week in the City

I’ve just spent a quick week in the city. The city, of course, is San Francisco. The week was exciting for a number of reasons. So, here we go…

Yes, this weekend included St. Patrick’s Day. City Hall was green for the occasion. And yes, we went to a concert by the San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. The Ravel, Le Tombeau de Couperin, was glorious! I love that work! The Mozart Violin Concerto No. 3 was brilliantly performed by Christian Tetzlaff. The Sibelius, Symphony No. 2, was well received, but by this time I was exhausted (jet lag) and fighting with a hideous allergy attack. The Associate Principal Oboist, James Button, was stunningly good in both the Ravel and the Sibelius, but I was enraptured by his performance of the Ravel!

James Button (Photo: David Kim, SFS Violist; Symphony Program Notes)

Whenever I attend a symphony concert, one of my obligatory photos is of City Hall taken from inside Davies Hall. You get the reflections from the interior of Davies Hall in the glass while shooting City Hall, as you can see above.

While at the symphony, I tried taking a different kind of photo using a new app: Spectre1 . The app shoots three types of shots: light trails, motion blur of fast moving objects (think water blurring in a waterfall shot with a long exposure), and removing objects that are moving. It requires a tripod to make a decent shot, and I didn’t have one with me, but I tried to shoot the light trails anyway. Not too bad for a tripod-less first try! You will be seeing a lot more photos from me using the Spectre app. I love this app!

And here are some other photos I shot with the Spectre app later in my week in the city. I’ve always wanted to take a shot of the Bay Bridge from this location, but the island is under heavy construction from the Chinese billionaire who bought and is developing it. With numerous road closures and new roads being built, getting to this spot has, at times, been impossible. I would love to shoot light trails from this vantage point, but getting to this spot on foot is a bit of a challenge during the day. I feel all but certain that I would fall and die at night!

Yes, my old iPhone X made those shots. (In fact, it made all of the shots in this post.) I had a nice chat with a young fellow while shooting the car-less Golden Gate photo. He is currently in a pano mood and shoots numerous photos, with his phone, that are then auto stitched into a 360º pano.

Oh, and I have to mention this: I didn’t fake color in the green in the grass in any of these photos. With the tremendous amount of rain the Bay Area has received this season, the hills are beautifully green, and the flowers are very happy! The photo to the right is the flattest section where I shot the Bay Bridge photos. Getting to it was a seriously and precariously steep and uneven hillside.

Next I thought I would shoot some “long exposure” shots of the water down by Fort Point. Rats! The really big waves splashed before I was setup. But I still got some interesting shots. Couldn’t decided between these two; so, I’m including both. Click/touch to better see the blurred water spray and motion in the larger version of each photo.

Hopefully, during my next trip out here, I’ll be able to do more with the Spectre app, especially experimenting with light trails. I just wasn’t satisfied with the handheld few I shot at the symphony, and this was user-driven.

At Fort Point

I’ve already blogged about getting my new Unagi scooter. It’s a blast! I put over 40 miles on its odometer this week, riding it every day. Of course, I love taking it to the Golden Gate Bridge and exploring areas I have never visited.

Below is the map of one of my more memorable trips. The wind resistance was biting cold, very strong, and constant. I travelled 7.3 miles at an average speed of 12mph in riding mode 3 and used up most of the battery on this trip. This route also included some very steep hills!

Here’s the map of the trip, below. I’ve enlarged the Fort Point and Fort Mason areas of the trip. The Fort Mason park area down to the Aquatic Cover is an incredibly intense hill! The first part of the trip, from the bottom of the hill down at the cove, was too steep for the scooter2 , but once I got past the steepest part of that incline, the scooter zipped up to the top with no issues. (As with most of the photos in this post, click to enlarge.)

I decided yesterday that I wanted to shoot some photos with my iPhone using the Moment 1.33 Anamorphic Lens attachment. You have seen them peppered throughout this post. Here are a few more of the photos I shot.

Even still images shot using the anamorphic lens look more dramatic to me, more cinematic. Below are a couple shot today using the Moment 1.33 anamorphic lens. These were shot from Fort Baker. You will notice that the Moment anamorphic lens can be placed on either of the iPhone’s back lenses: wide or zoom. Both of the images below were shot from the exact same spot. The tripod was not moved.

During this trip, we also discovered a wonderful restaurant in the Mission District: Heirloom Café. The café is very easy to miss because the sign is so minimalist. The interior space is also minimalist and even includes one common table at which several parties (or a larger single party) are seated. I appreciated the fact the restaurant has acoustic treatments to reduce noise!

The food was sensational–and I do mean delicious. We got their last available reservation for the evening, and we booked over 24 hours in advance. And while not inexpensive, the menu represents a great value. This is a great place to eat when you want a wonderful, un-rushed dining experience. We put it on our list!

I “snapped” this photo below because San Francisco is construction now. Everywhere you go the city is being changed. Out with the old and quaint, in with the sleek, modern, and less interesting. I find it sad, really. I have a love for the old architecture of the city, the above photo for example or the Painted Ladies in Alamo Square–that glorious Art Deco look never gets old to me. Enough, already!

So that about wraps it up. It’s been a great few days!


  1. This app is brought to us by the team that makes the awesome Halide camera app for iPhone. Halide is my preferred, though not exclusive, camera app for still shots. 

  2. The Unagi is rated for 15º hills. This section is far more steep than that!