I'm so glad you found me! I'm a San Francisco photographer, and this blog charts my journey in the ever-evolving world of photography. One of the things I love about photography is that it's a journey, not a destination. I'm constantly learning and meeting wonderful people. Please peruse the blog to your heart's content, then check out my website and feel free to contact me! (I love hearing from you.)

“Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow." – Imogen Cunningham

“A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.” – Edward Steichen

Anatomy of An Image, Week 7

Ok, so this time for Anatomy of an Image, I'd like to try something different. In the past I've chosen pictures I was pretty happy with, and then talked about what was right. This time I'm choosing a shot that I mostly like, but that could be improved in a few ways, and we'll talk about what they are.

Time of Day
The blue hour, civil twilight, whatever you want to call it. Basically this is the time about half an hour after sunset, and for obvious reasons it's one of my favorite times to take pictures. Since it's winter, this particular time it was about 5:45, but obviously that depends on the time of year and your latitude. If you live near the equator, this will always be the same time for you, but you won't have that cool difference between summer and winter light, and you'll never have incredibly long shadows near the middle of the day. But I may be getting a bit off topic here.

The Story
After I moaned about not having anyone to shoot with now that Miguel has flown back to Colombia, my dad offered to come walk around the city with me and take some shots. Or rather, I would take some shots and he would just chill out. Since it was Dec 23rd, downtown SF was mobbed with people doing their last minute shopping, so we decided to make our way to the waterfront via the historic F line where it would be a little quieter. When we arrived the light was just getting fantastic. First I took some blah shots of the ferry building, and then I took some shots of the Bay Bridge, and then I decided I wanted to shoot the traffic against the buildings, the traffic blurred and the buildings sharp.

The Specs
Shutter Speed: 1 second. To make the passing cars properly blurry but still identifiable.
Aperture: f/16, to get the necessary shutter speed and also make the lights go all starry.
Focal Length: 17mm on an APS-C crop sensor, equivalent to about 28mm on a 35mm sensor camera.
ISO: 800. Why? I'm not sure. Seems high. I guess I really wanted f/16, and it's tough hand-holding for longer than a second.

What I Like
I like the colors. Blue and yellow, especially the versions of those that you find at twilight, always work for me. I like how the yellow of the streetlights is echoed in the yellow of the taxi. I always prefer my lights to star like this, so I like that. I also like the perspective. I was sort of squatting on the pavement and I think this would have been a different photo taken at normal person height. Also, I like that arrow in the corner. It just speaks to me a bit.

What I Don't Like
The photo is a little busy for my taste. Simpler is almost always better, and this is not really simple enough. If I could cut out about half of those trees, I would do it. Also I don't like that huge pole in the center, and I really don't like that the light on it is pretty blown out. I'm kind of on the fence about whether I'm ok with the building lines converging. It doesn't bother me too much, but this would have been cooler shot with a tilt/shift lens for sure. Also it's not as deadly sharp as I would like. It's ok, especially considering the speed I was hand-holding at, but it could be better.

Anyway, as always, I'm interested to hear what you think. Let me know in the comments!


  1. I like the colors and the light rays but I think a slightly quicker shutter would have given the viewer a better look at what is streaking across the scene. We know it's a car but capturing more of the moving vehicle might be better than just streaking lights.

  2. That is a great time of day to photograph as you mentioned. I agree with you that it is too busy. My eyes are really having a hard time deciding what to look at. The tall building comes the closest to being a point of interest, but there are just too many distractions. I am totally impressed that this is a hand held one second exposure. I'm lucky to get 1/10th second hand held without serious motion blur.

  3. i agree with the pole in the middle. but I do like... that at the base of the pole it has a ghosty look due to the vehicle driving through the shot, and it seems like the only "still object" that has that ghost-effect :)


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