As mentioned before, Hawk Hill is one of my favorite spots in San Francisco Bay area ( check What to See and Photograph in San Francisco If You Only Have 2 Hours). The view from the top of the hill is breathtaking, no matter what direction you look.
Over the years, I have visited this spot at least 10-12 times and, each time there has been something extreme about the weather. One time in late spring, after enjoying a warm morning in Berkeley with the temperature around +25ºC (77ºF), I decided to swing by Marin Headlands to take few pictures of San Francisco. You can imagine how surprised I was when, after the short 20 minute drive, I hardly could get out of the car because of the wind; the temperature had dropped to at least 15ºC (59ºF).
The afternoon I took the featured photo was completely different. Even thought it was the first week of February, it was very warm (+20ºC, 68ºF) with absolutely no wind. We ended up spending almost three hours there. First, we had a quiet picnic to enjoy the amazing view and, then, I spent the sunset hours taking photos, only leaving when it was completely dark.
Shooting + Processing
At the time of the shooting, the sun was completely blocked by clouds, keeping San Francisco in the shadow. Then, suddenly the sun started to blast through the small opening, illuminating downtown with warm light. This is when I dropped my sandwich and rushed to the highest point of the hill with my tripod and the camera.
Since the light was not too dynamic, I only shot 3 bracketed shots (-1, 0, +1).
I used HDR Pro module of Photoshop (check my free guide “Natural Looking HDR Workflow“) to merge 3 bracketed shots to HDR.
Deconstructing Featured Photo
Processing: Digital Blending with Lminosity Masks
Lightroom: import, tagging, export to Photoshop HDR Pro
Photoshop: 3 exposures ( -1, 0, +1) were used to tone map image, 32-bit tiff image was saved to Lightroom (check my free guide “Natural Looking HDR Workflow“)
Lightroom: straightening, perspective correction, contrast, color correction.
Photoshop: Cleaning, contrast, color correction
- Topaz DeNoise was used to reduce digital noise.
- Topaz Clarity was used to enhance details and boost colors.