October Week 2

Sutro Baths at Sunset

Ruins and history sometimes shine most graciously when bathed in the golden glow of the final light before sunset.  This is true of the old ruins of Sutro Baths whose stones still kiss the Pacific Ocean in San Francisco.

The unconventional mayor in 1896, Aldoph Sutro opened a wondrous bathhouse for his city which could accommodate some thousands of swimmers in six salt water tanks holding 1,804,962 gallons.  For pictures of the original Sutro Bath visit the bathhouse website.

What remains of the crumbling foundation and hillsides now covered in ice plant and nasturtium provides a natural playground and coastal creation worth visiting. With the fog gone, the clouds gathering at the coast in the evening hours and a clear horizon, the sky is likely to provide long lasting colors before and after sunset.

Ocean View from Sutro Baths

I like to be in place about 30 minutes before sunset.  Find a scenic view or subject that the setting sun is hitting (opposite or 90 degrees to the sun).  The intensity of the light brings a new quintessence to your subject.

The sun rises and sets every day as it has for millions of years.  Yet every time it offers different vistas (photographic possibilities) depending on the time of year, visibility, clouds, temperatures, location, foreground…etc.   Once the sun is down we can keep on shooting.  As Genesis poetically puts it:  “There was evening and there was morning, day one…day two…” and so forth. And it was all good in the sight of the Divine Being!

Sunrise at Bay Bridge - near Pier 1

Often if there is a great evening sky the next morning has possibilities (or visa versa).  That was the case this past week.

The sky is what makes these photographs. Often excluding the sun from the sky produces a dramatic presentation.  You know the light source is there but it doesn’t dominate the sky. The sky by itself may be spectacular but other elements help make your image unforgettable.  In the case of the sky over the ocean beyond the Sutru Baths it was the rock island and one single sail boat that were the clinchers!

When metering the post sunset sky I usually under expose one to two stops to make the colors rich and vibrant. I suggest you set your camera on the spot metering mode, select a location about 30 degrees off the sun and take your meter reading. With dramatic skies I like to use a wide angle lens to get as much of it as possible.  If the sun were still in the sky it would be very small.  But if your aim is a red ball make sure you are shooting with a long lens – say 400mm.

“The sun has gone to bed and so must I…..”  One of my favorite Sound of Music scenes….

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