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Shooting in the Dark

The reflecting pond in front o 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. I have found it helpful to focus on a single point of light. As I rotate the focus ring the single point of light gets bigger and smaller. The goal is to make the point as small as possible to ensure a sharp focus. ​This image was shot in July with a waxing moon. Shot with a Nikon D610 with a 24-70 mm f2.8 Nikon Lens, (available at 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. I spot metered on the light of the Rotunda and then bracketed two shots above and below. It is easy to blowout the highlights with night photography, so spot metering is a must.


About the author:  JS Engelbrecht began his photography career in a High School dark room for the school's Year Book. Later he entered the fashion industry and product photography before turning his attention to Nature. "I moved from shooting pictures of beautiful jewelry to shooting pictures of natural beauty."

Now JS Engelbrecht enjoys capturing beautiful scenes during his travels. He is also a gifted teacher and guide for local photographers. 

Click here to see his fine art gallery.

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