Late Afternoon Light at Baker Beach

Baker Beach - San Francisco, California

Baker Beach – San Francisco, California

I’m in the midst of a series showing photographs from back in 2013. Today, we’re at Baker Beach, which is on the western edge of San Francisco. The world’s famous Golden Gate Bridge might have given it away.

I don’t often make landscapes, but since these images also feature a large manmade object, one can argue they are urban landscapes of sorts. I’ve photographed the bridge a number of times but wanted different angles and decided to visit Baker Beach. I managed to catch it during golden hour with the warm afternoon light.

What I think is most interesting, photographically, is how I used different focal lengths to play with the level of telephoto compression. In the first photograph, I shot at the equivalent of 112mm, which made the bridge loom larger compressing the space between the fence and bridge.

Baker Beach - San Francisco, California
Baker Beach - San Francisco, California

I shot these two photos, moments apart, at 50mm and 85mm equivalents.

Baker Beach - San Francisco, California

Here, I’m back at 112mm again. Look at how much larger the people look, relative to the bridge.

Baker Beach - San Francisco, California
Baker Beach - San Francisco, California

I continued on the beach towards the bridge and finally made these two photos, eliminating most of the people in the frame. Look closely and you’ll notice people on the rock, however, on the right. Again, I made these pictures at 50mm and 85mm equivalents.

Beyond the pretty touristy photos, the main takeaway is that strategic use of focal length can be another compositional tool. Zooming with your feet (by physically moving closer or farther) and zooming with the lens makes different kinds of images. You don’t get telephoto compression when you zoom with your feet. Your foreground subject might get larger but the background stays pretty much the same.

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6 thoughts on “Late Afternoon Light at Baker Beach

  1. To get the wide shot sans people did you wait patiently for them to clear the area? Or take multiple shots and use layers to paint them out?

  2. The first photo, with the fence…it seemed distracting. Then I think I liked it the best. Made the photo unique. Told me more about that famous place.

    Well done.

    1. Thanks, Photo A Day. I was iffy about that first one too, but as you said it’s unique and it’s different from a typical tourist snapshot.

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