Pacific Northwest Escape Mission 4: San Francisco

Over the last year and a half, we’ve all realized the importance of connections. And as the world grapples with how to connect at a time when we’ve become increasingly isolated, there’s nothing better than finding symbols of hope in the real world.

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of those symbols. And that’s one of the reasons why we needed to include it on our Pacific Northwest Escape, a journey across three US states in search of the best places for creating iconic photography.

We’re Michelle Moree and Hollis Porter, a pair of photographers from Seattle, Washington, and the couple behind The Remote Unknown. We can’t wait to let you in on our San Francisco adventure. 

The first three legs of our journey took us through Washington and Oregon, where we captured absolutely magical shots of the Northern Cascades, the Oregon coastline, and the Natural Bridges. For some more West Coast inspiration, we hopped in the car and made our way down the California coast to San Francisco, hoping for picture-perfect sunset beach pics with the iconic Golden Gate Bridge as our backdrop.

How to Get There

Upon arriving in San Francisco, we took the Batteries to Bluffs Trail. This one-mile round trip hike takes you down to expansive ocean views along the wild western shoreline. If you time everything right, you’ll discover some spectacular spots for your next masterpiece, with dune plants and wildflowers ready to inspire you.

Upon witnessing the beautiful sunset on the coastline, we rested for the evening. In the morning, we drove to Battery Spencer in time for sunrise. A short pathway took us straight to the overlook, where we found jaw-dropping views of the Golden Gate Bridge with San Francisco blanketing the background.

The Golden Gate Bridge connects San Francisco to Marin County. It’s almost two miles long and stretches across the Golden Gate, which is the narrow strait where the San Francisco Bay meets the Pacific Ocean. It’s visually stunning and is believed to be the most photographed bridge on the planet.

When to Shoot

Battery Spencer is best enjoyed at sunrise or sunset, so be sure to time your shots accordingly. But keep in mind that thick fog often covers the Golden Gate area, particularly during the summer. 

No matter the season, you’ll get some spectacular shots. And if the weather doesn’t cooperate, there’s always Luminar AI.

Shooting Tips

As it was still slightly in the blue hour when we started taking photos, our tripod came in handy. We shot with a Canon EOS R5 and 24-70mm lens. We also came armed with a Sony a7R IV and a 70-200mm for close-up shots.

Luminar AI Editing Tips

We captured a great shot of the Golden Gate Bridge with some pink sky edging into the scene from the left. But in post-production, the sky was rather gray and that pink hue just wasn’t there. With Luminar AI, it was easy to fix that and bring out the natural color we were missing.

One of my favorite tools in Luminar AI is Color Warmth. It allows you to really get the hues you want. Using the sliders, it’s so easy to see the sky come alive. For this shot, I played with the HSL settings under Color to really bring out the pink.

We’ve gathered all skies from the trip locations and have made them available for download from the Pacific Northwest Escape project page. They’re free to use and are compatible with Luminar AI as well as other photo-editing software.

Craving more inspiration? Check out the first three episodes of our trip from the North Cascades, the Oregon coastline, and the Natural Bridges. Stay tuned to find out where we’re headed next!

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Sam Edge's picture

If you are going to take photos in San Francisco, it is imperative to watch your surroundings and take enormous security precautions. Way too many photographers have been robbed of their equipment.

Darren Loveland's picture

I can second this. I live in the Bay Area and there's been many, many documented incidents in the past 18 months of photographers gear being robbed. Recently on the local news a team of real estate photographers had their gear ripped from the back of their car during a traffic stop.

Car break-in's are nothing new in SF, police response time is too slow and culprits get away easy, but the amount of photographer targeted thefts has increased.

If you can, I'd leave most of your gear in your hotel/airbnb or wherever you're staying and just bring a simple camera setup on person while you're out shooting.

Definitely make sure your equipment is insured. If you use PPA for insurance, make sure you check your coverage to see what exactly is covered. The base rate is minimal.