Washed Up on Baker Beach

Washed Up - Baker Beach - 2013

On New Year’s Day, I’ve got a tradition of heading to San Francisco to take pictures. I usually head for the Golden Gate Bridge – exploring various vantage points as I get closer to the bridge.

Baker Beach is often a favorite – and this year the view was gorgeous. I headed down closer to the edge of the surf for this show – taken with my Nikon D600.

I processed it simply – bringing it into Photoshop CS6 from Lightroom, applying two Nik Color Efex Pro 4 filters (Brilliance/Warmth) and Tonal Contrast followed by a Lab color layer – before using Imagenomic Noiseware to remove the noise and then bringing it back into Lightroom. The colors in this version are much more postcard like (warmer) than the original.

Head Strong – Golden Gate Bridge on New Year’s Day

Head Strong - Golden Gate - 2013
Head Strong – Golden Gate – 2013

While I was exploring around the Golden Gate Bridge yesterday as part of my New Year’s Day tradition, I parked at the parking lot on Merchant Road just south of the bridge entrance and walked briefly up one of the bluffs in the area to take this shot.

It was taken handheld with my Nikon D600 and cropped/tweaked in Photoshop CS6 using ALCE, some Lab color techniques, etc. The upper crossbeams in the south tower and the eastern side cable both seem to be in need of a paint job! Click on the image to see a larger version on Flickr.

New Year’s Day 2013 – Dreamy at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach

Dreamy at Ocean Beach

For the last few years, I’ve had a tradition of heading out on January 1st for some San Francisco photography – always of the Golden Gate Bridge – but usually some other spots as well.

Today was bright and sunny – although not especially clear. My first stop was on the hill up by the Cliff House above Ocean Beach. This is such a simple shot – shooting straight down the beach – and it captures the late morning mood on the beach perfectly.

Shot with my Nikon D600, I post-processed the image in Lightroom 4.3 using Trey Ratcliff’s Lightroom Presets which added the dreamy effect and tones. This particular preset is named “Under the Stars” and is in package 3.

After Ocean Beach, I headed into the Presidio and on to Baker Beach where I caught this view of the Golden Gate – I titled it “Smooth”.

Smooth - Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco - New Year's Day 2013

A Stormy December Day at Baker Beach

Golden Gate #2 - Baker Beach - 2012

This morning I headed for San Francisco – hoping for some interesting clouds for a break in between the rolling waves of tropical rains we’ve been having.

Afterwards, there was a nice break in the rain and I headed for Crissy Field and then to Baker Beach – either side of the Golden Gate Bridge. I thought the most interesting – stormy – shots were from Baker Beach. (See some of my earlier images from Baker Beach – it’s a dramatic spot!)

Here are three treatments of the same image of the Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach. Immediately below is the right out of the camera (Nikon D600) version. Up top is a black and white version (my personal favorite) created by blending a couple of layers of Nik’s Silver Efex Pro treatments into a composite black and white image. The black and white version was based on the color treatment shown at the bottom of this post – the result of putting the image through a modified version of Lee Varis’ technique for image enhancement.

More details of my Lab-centric workflow can be found on my earlier post laying out that particular process. Just appreciate how this workflow is such an evolving process!

Golden Gate #0 - Baker Beach - 2012


Golden Gate #1 - Baker Beach - 2012

By the way, I started my morning by first visiting my friend photographer Chris Honeysett who’s holding his holiday show this weekend in the Gatehouse at Fort Mason Center. Chris is a great photographer – one of the few that I’ve actually collected over the years! If you have a chance to stop by his holiday show this weekend, it’s very worthwhile. While he was initially known for his black and white photography, he’s recently been doing some amazing work in color.

Night from Day – Golden Gate from the Marin Headlands

Night from Day - San Francisco - 2011

I’ve had an earlier monochrome version of this image as my desktop wallpaper on my 27-inch Apple Cinema Display for many months. It’s a very pleasing image – surprisingly sharp for a non-tripod, handheld image shot at 200 mm with my Canon 5D Mark II.

Tonight I thought I’d process this image again – using some of my newly learned Lab color tricks – but late in the game I veered off back into monochrome, seduced by Photoshop CS6’s new toning options. Blue’s always been a favorite color of mine – and, somehow, this “Night from Day” preset just grabbed me as being right for this image. Time to let it age a bit – this is definitely one image to come back to!

The Golden Gate – Working on Older Photos

Last night, for a bit of relaxation (!), I took a browse through some of my older, unprocessed images – among the over 15,000 of them in my Lightroom library.

I came across several images that I ended up taking into Photoshop CS6 and applying some new techniques I’ve been learning – mostly from Ben Willmore’s excellent Photoshop for Photographers course on CreativeLive – but from some others as well.

My favorite from last night’s editing session was the image below of San Francisco’s Golden Gate – which I shot on February 24, 2008 using my Canon EOS 40D Digital SLR. I really liked the composition/angle of the shot – and the moody overcast skies.

I worked in Photoshop to enhance the details in the bridge itself – and then added a subtle painterly effect (using Photoshop CS6’s Oil Paint filter) to the ocean itself. The tighter crop helps keep my eye in the frame – with there being lots of fun stuff to look at! Hope you also enjoy it – be sure to click on the image itself to see a larger version!

The Gate - San Francisco - 2008