Seeing good-bye to The City

Flying out of SFO yesterday morning, I had a great seat for shooting: on the left side of the plane, away from the sun, facing The City on departure. I got several hundred shots crossing the country, more of which will go up on Flickr over time. Meanwhile, I’ve uploaded a set of San Francisco alone. Here ya go.


  1. Andrew Leyden’s avatar

    If you really want to geek out next time you fly over the Bay, you can check out these AIS sites (AIS is the ship identification transmissions that guys use to plot stuff on a map).

    Here is a worldwide site:

  2. Rob’s avatar

    Great shot. Wow! As a SF native and current resident, I know a good picture of the city when I see it. Nice work. It was a beautiful day today, especially up in Marin, where I spent the day cycling — a full 100 miles! Cheers.

  3. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Andrew, thanks for those. Take a look at this shot here, where a fat cargo ship steals the picture. Next time I’ll take a look at those sites before I depart. I’d like to know the same for Boston as well.

    And Rob, you have my envy, just to be able to pedal a bike up hills, much less a whole century. Being 61 and feeling the onset of arthritis, it’s a bit daunting. But soon as the snow thaws, I plan to be out on the bike trail by our house here in Boston.

  4. Sansa’s avatar

    Wow, what a clear day in SF. I am so jealous. It’s still stuck in the ice-age in Boston. How are you getting the wide angle/panorama shots? Is it the camera or do you use post editing software?

  5. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Well, Sansa, we walked around Boston today in 60°F weather. It was beautiful. Of course the heavy weather is moving in now, and it’ll be icky again by morning.

    On these shots I was using a Tamron 18-200 f3.5-6.3 zoom on a Canon 30D. Both the camera and the lens are pretty beat-up by now, although the camera has been rebuilt a time or two. The lens has a single virtue, aside from its zoom range: it’s pretty sharp out to about 135mm, which is equivalent of about 200mm on a film camera or a digital SLR with a full-size sensor.

    For what it’s worth, I shot the picture above at ISO 100, f9.0, 1/250 sec and the zoom set to 102.0mm, which is equivalent to about 140mm. In other words, it was a telephoto shot, not a wide angle one. If you want to see a wide-angle shot in that series, look here. That one was zoomed out to 18mm, or equivalent to about 28mm. It’s cropped to panoramic dimensions: much wider than high. Note also how curved the horizon looks. That’s the lens’ barrel distortion, which is high.

    Yes, I do post-editing on many shots, but not all. Usually I adjust the color levels or color curves. One purpose is to bring out the color, since there is often haze in aerial shots; but the bigger purpose is to bring out the subjects of the shots. In some cases here it might be the city, or the bridges, or the landforms, or the clouds. It all depends. With shots of landforms in The West I’m especially interested in differentiating what geologists call “formations” but the rest of us just call “layers.”

    The shots in this series were all .JPGs rather than RAW. If the air is clear (as it was here) I try to shoot in both .JPG and RAW. I did that later in the same trip a couple of times, but forgot to make the right setting for this series.

  6. Andrew Leyden’s avatar


    You’ll see a lot of ‘those’ ships lately. They are ro-ro car carriers (roll on / roll off) taking cars in and out of the US, and due to the recent slowdown in car sales many of these ro-ro’s are semi-permanently docked near offloading points as ‘floating parking lots’. Long Beach, Baltimore, etc–they’re filled with these ro-ro’s right now, and some shipping carriers are actually mothballing some of these car carriers until things get a bit better.

  7. Andrew Leyden’s avatar

    More on the car backlog at the ports and how some places like Baltimore are leasing ‘long term parking’ at the airport to store the vehicles.

  8. John Dorian Chang’s avatar

    Great shot – although the dreariness of SF is real and unfortunate…

  9. FMLS in Atlanta’s avatar

    In my trips in and out of SFO I have never been able to see much farther than the wing. Great fog-free shot!

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