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BY ANDRO MANGUBAT
On the first issue of Andro's Bizarre Adventures, Andro Mangubat narrates how he discovered the joy of travel photography in sunny San Francisco.
Sunny San Francisco - Discovering Travel Photography in the City by the Bay
Having visited San Francisco in June 2017, I wasn’t sure what to do going back in December. I realized millions have already been to the same places, with many more to come. This led me to think of taking up photography as a way of personalizing my travel experience and “making the place my own.”
After acquiring my first camera, a Fujifilm X-A3, I wandered around San Francisco to capture the landscapes. Inspired by anime sceneries, I revisited familiar sights and explored new places. On the morning after Christmas, the weather was pleasant as I went on a short photo walk at sunrise.
At the very edge of the Bay Area, Livermore is a small city surrounded by farmlands and vineyards. This photo, reminiscent of the Windows wallpaper, was taken outside the house during my photo walk.
Going to San Francisco, my uncle would drop me off at the BART Station (Bay Area Rapid Transit) in Pleasanton. From there, the train ride would take almost an hour until I arrived at one of the many stations in the city.
I was much more adventurous this time around. The highlight of my trip was my excursion across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin Headlands.
My plan was to make my way towards Point Bonita Lighthouse to catch the sunset. However, things turned out differently. The map on the left pinpoints the locations where I shot my photos.
After being dropped off at Vista Point by 10 AM, I went down to the Presidio Yacht Club to see the view of the bridge.
The detour allowed me to get this shot of the Golden Gate Bridge with the boats and fishermen in the frame.
At noon, sirens began wailing as fog rapidly approached engulfing the bridge. After a couple of minutes, it vanished. The bridge was in clear view again as if nothing had happened.
By 1 PM, I arrived at Battery Spencer. Once a military fort in the 19th century, today it’s known for its view seen on post cards. Since enough time had passed by, the sun was no longer overhead and I was no longer shooting against the light.
I could have taken a bus to the lighthouse, but I wouldn’t have a ride back after sunset so I might as well walk on foot. At least I could take photos of the sea-side view along the way.
After walking 2 miles from Vista Point, I arrived at Hawk Hill by 3 PM. With the pedestrian path ending there, I decided to wait for sunset, which was coming in 2 hours.
Hawk Hill used to be known as Battery 129, a military fortification for defending against aerial attacks along with the nearby Nike Missile Site. Now it serves as the site of the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory. With its high elevation and panoramic view, conservationists and birdwatchers gather here to observe the migration of raptors. I took this photo a quarter before 5 PM as the landscape was showered under the sun’s golden light. At the farthest end is Point Bonita showing how far I was from my original destination.
With night approaching, I rushed back to Vista Point. Without a tripod, I laid my camera on a trash can for a long exposure and rotated the image later on. Wanting to experience walking on the bridge, I went to the entrance arriving around 6:20 PM.
I had already walked through the Brooklyn Bridge back in June 2017. It only took 40 minutes with the photo stops so I expected the crossing to be short.
However, I didn’t expect the bridge to be closed to pedestrians at 6:30 PM as told by a patrolling officer. I ended up brisk walking then sprinting as the officer told me to hurry up from his golf cart.
I eventually arrived on the other side at the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center. After waiting for half an hour, I was able to ride a bus to the closest BART station at Powell Street.
It was already 8 PM and I was hungry. Nearby was a steakhouse known as John's Grill. Wanting to try something different, I dined there. The food was good, but at 45 USD for steak, Tad's Steakhouse was much more affordable where it was only 20 USD. After my late dinner, I hopped back on the BART to go home.
Although this is just one of my usual bizarre adventures abroad, this marked the beginning of my journey as a photographer. More than just sightseeing, the joy of photography lies in creating something out of my travels. In seeing various landscapes, reimagining them and capturing them with my camera, I was truly able to make these places my own.
Andro's Bizarre Adventures is an ongoing article by Andro Mangubat that is released monthly in PhotoNation magazine. Stay tuned for the next episode where he will share his experience documenting his trip to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
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