One of my favorite places for photography is the Marin Headlands area in Sausalito. Proof to that are my previous posts with photographs taken in that area. I like it because it is only about 70 miles from my home, it offers a variety of photographic opportunities, the temperature there is cool and constant (no guessing about what to wear), and the light is often variable throughout the day. In this post, I call attention to the man-made textures of the Headlands.
Location and parking
The Marin Headlands can be accessed from Highway 101, the exit is Alexander Ave. If you are going West, it’s the last exit before the Golden Gate Bridge. Traffic there often changes, so rely on your Google navigation to get where you want to get. I usually park at the Rodeo Beach parking lot by the Coastal Trail access, from where I can reach the historical sites (see below) for textures. Rodeo Beach fills up quickly, and I often end up parking at the Visitors’ Center parking lot. Another option for the historical sites is to drive straight to Battery Spencer, with sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge, or to Fort Baker, South of 101.
A word of caution: don’t ever leave anything of value in your car! The Golden Gate Bridge area and all of San Francisco (if you cross the bridge for other adventures) are plagued with car break-ins! Although I have never felt unsafe at the Marin Headlands, San Francisco across the bridge is dangerous for photographers, particularly at the Twin Peaks area. Exert extreme caution if you cross the bridge with the intention to photograph!
There are several types of photography you can engage in at the headlands, and I will explore a few more in future posts. Today, however, I want to call attention for the interesting man-made textures present at this area.
Man-made textures – Protecting San Francisco
The hills North of the Golden Gate Bridge have several tunnels, bunkers, and batteries that were put in place to protect San Francisco from attackers, dating back to as early as the Civil War period. On the North shore, there are three forts and several attack positions, whereas South of the Golden Gate, there is Fort Baker. If you want to learn more about these fortifications, I have found a good link here.
Why photograph textures ?
Finding and properly photographing an appealing, stand-alone texture that will look good when printed and hung on the wall of a gallery is difficult, but the more you look, the more you will find. This is a relatively unexplored gender of photograph, and each photo is difficult to repeat. This means that those who become good at it might have a reasonable chance to stand out in the crowd.
Although I do not consider myself an expert in texture photography as stand-alone piece of art, I sometimes use those photographs to add texture to other images. For example, in my series Monterey Trees, I have added the same texture to all my photos, to make them look older.
If you are not familiar with adding texture to your photos, and would like to learn more about it, watch How To Apply Textures In Photoshop 2020, by fellow photographer Howard Grill.
Tips on photographing textures and patterns
- A tripod might come in handy when it is gloomy and foggy, usually throughout the summer;
- I like to photograph textures with my lens closed down (f/11-f/22), for maximum depth of field, but a more precise recommendation for which apertures to use would depend on your camera, lens, distance to the subject etc;
- I like to use wide angle lenses for textures and patterns. Focal lengths between 24-35mm work really well for me. Try to position your camera as parallel to the subject as possible;
- Certain textures will look ok even if you use a higher ISO, although I try to keep mine below 200 on my Nikon cameras;
- Most types of outdoor photography benefit from a partly cloudy day and more diffused light. If your day turns out sunny and cloudless, a diffuser will come in handy to concentrate on the small stuff.
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