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Some cities just seem to beg to be photographed at night, and San Francisco is one of them.  The climate is mild, the topography is varied, and there are so many great vantage points, both within and outside of the city, that the possibilities for unique images are just about infinite.

On a recent drizzly evening, I took advantage of a break in the weather to get a few shots of this beautiful city.  The storm clouds lent a lovely, soft, dark backdrop to the buildings, without obscuring them the way the fog sometimes can.  The night was positively balmy, and the best thing is that there was absolutely no wind, which made long exposure shots a breeze, so to speak.

There are enough landmarks in the image to identify it as San Francisco to most people who have been there.  Coit Tower on the far left is the most prominent.  There’s also the Ghirardelli sign in the lower right, the Transamerica Pyramid building in the upper right, and the delicate string of lights in the sky is one of the spans of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

Remember that you don’t have to try to cram every icon of a city into every image.  I deliberately left out the rest of the Bay Bridge, all of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Palace of Fine Arts, and the rest of the waterfront, all of which were visible from my vantage point.  Edit in the viewfinder!  In this image, I only cropped out some sky above and water below, both of which were pretty bland and didn’t contribute anything to the image.  And I knew I would do that when I took the image.  But I didn’t crop the sides at all.

If you’re adept at the computer side of photography, another way to create an image like this with even better resolution is to shoot a series of vertical images and then stitch them together to make a panorama.

When’s the last time you photographed your environment at night, at home or while traveling?  Don’t let winter stop you.  Storms and clouds lend great atmosphere, and snow transforms everything it covers (and bounces a lot of light at night!).

Carpe noctem!



  1. Inexplicably, my mail sends notifications in the “unwanted”.
    I discovered this problem now!
    I hope you will forgive me for not having found ….
    I thought you were going on a nice trip!
    But you’re here …
    I love this photo … the night with its lights can give dream, forever.
    ciao , a presto

    • Hey Vento–

      Glad to have you back! Hate to think of my posts as being “unwanted!”

      I was traveling and shooting most of September, and therefore not blogging, but am back to my routine of (almost) daily posts.

      Welcome back, and I’m glad you like this image. It was, in fact, a dreamy night. 🙂

      RPRT Photo

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