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Palace of Fine Arts,

San Francisco, California

The reflecting pond in front of the iconic Beaux-Arts Rotunda of the Palace of Fine Arts is a popular spot for photography. 

The Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon Street San Francisco, is in the Marina District of San Francisco, California, just off the famed Highway 101. It was originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in order to exhibit works of art and is one of only a few surviving structures from the Exposition. The Palace of Fine Arts was designed by Bernard Maybeck, who took his inspiration from Roman and Ancient Greek architecture.


This view of the Rotunda is from the Baker Street side of the building (GPS 37.803250, -122.447184).  There is public parking and street parking around the park and the theater.  The venue is accessible by San Francisco Muni buses. Additionally, there is free and paid parking at Marina Green (about a 10 minute walk).

Night photography is demanding on batteries so be sure to bring an extra battery or two.  A tripod is a must. A cable release is recommended, otherwise use the self-timer. If your camera has a live-view feature, use it to focus by zooming in and manually focusing on a part of the scene that is lit. 

This image was shot in July with a waxing moon. Shot with a Nikon D610 with a 24-70 mm f2.8 Nikon Lens, at f5.0 with a shutter speed of 2.5 seconds. The longer shutter speeds produced the 'glazed' effect on the surface to the water. Spot metered on the light of the Rotunda and then bracketed two shots above and below. 

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