Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lombard St San Francisco

San Francisco happens to be one of my favorite cities. I set out to shoot one of the many lesser known attractions (compared to the Golden Gate for example) Lombard St. Known as the crookedest road in the world. This one block section of the street contains 8 sharp turns. This road gets photographed everyday, so I wanted to approach the shoot differently. I intended to capture the scene from a unique perspective. Taking the typical shot will just yield "blah" results.

I decided to approach it at night and from the top (instead of the more common bottom). The top view had a couple advantages and one huge disadvantage. The shot was planned to be a long exposure. Long enough to capture the rear lights of cars driving down it, making them just streaks of light. This was an only possible from the top, since it is a one way street. The top view also gave me a lesser explored perspective. On the other hand most of the visual interest of the street gets lost because of the angle of view. How to approach that?

My only option was to gain height. I started by climbing on a 4ft tall cement post at the very top. Indeed it was better, but not good enough (not nearly good enough). First reaction was to look for something higher. I quickly found that there really wasn't much. Except for the actual houses. I found a small garden outside a window on a second floor. I climbed up to it and set my camera. This was probably consider trespassing since I was on the actual property (don't try this at home kids, or don't get caught). The view was much better. I took some shots, but wasn't completely satisfied. After some more looking around a better location was found, but guess what? In order to gain height I would have to clim again. This time it was a thick wall right next to another window. This one was even closer to me. The blinds were closed so I took a chance. I couldn't miss the shot. I convinced my self to climb it and hope that no-one opened the blinds or the window. I climbed up and set up my tripod on a 12 inch section of the wall (many times much narrower that the optimal space for my tripod, but it would have to do). I was standing inches from the window. I don't even want to know what the owner would of done if they opened it and saw me there. Never the less, I proceeded. I managed to balance my self and the camera with out falling on to the cement or dropping the camera. Finally I could have my shot.

Each exposure took 30 seconds. After what it seem like an eternity, I was happy with outcome.

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