san francisco times seven

Thanks to the Global Deejays' remix of "Sounds of San Francisco," every time I say, "San Francisco," I say it like, "San! Fran! Cisco!" Listen to the song if you don't understand. Trust me - your life will never be the same.

For Thanksgiving, my mom and I went to San Francisco. She said it was because she'd wanted to take a vacation during the summer, but I was too busy, and she didn't want to go by herself. I think it was partially because she wanted to get out of making a Thanksgiving meal when there were only three of us. My stepdad decided to stay home, and had Thanksgiving dinner with his son & his family, so it was just Mom and I for the trip. I love travelling with Mom. I get all of my nerdy travelophile genes from her, so we generally want to see the same things, and she doesn't mind that I try to pack in as many things as possible.

This trip was a photographic learning experience for both of us. I helped my mom buy her first digital camera over the summer, a respectable model of the point & shoot variety, but she'd barely taken it out of the box by November. I ended up giving her a crash course on the Civic Center plaza in San Francisco on Thanksgiving morning. This was also a learning experience for me, because it was the first time I took my DSLR on vacation. The results were a bit disappointing, but I did learn some things, and I was able to touch up my shots with Photoshop, so I feel better about the experience now. The most important thing I learned is that I'm never visiting a photogenic city like San Francisco again without a shorter lens than my fixed 50mm. So for future vacations, I'll probably plunk down the cash to rent a wide-angle lens if I don't have one of my own. But for now, on to the photos!

Boats at the Wharf

We arrived in San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon, the day before Thanksgiving. Our first order of business, after checking into our downtown hotel, was to buy a bus/streetcar/cable car pass. We decided to eat in North Beach, where there were supposed to be some great Italian restaurants, and we got there by way of taking the streetcar to Fisherman's Wharf, where I snapped this photo. I'm not sure if we just picked a mediocre restaurant, but I've had much better Italian food in Chicago. Thankfully, that was our only mediocre meal of the whole trip. 1/40, f/1.8, ISO 1600.

City Hall

On Thanksgiving, we decided to do as much "outside" sightseeing as possible, since most places were not open. I read in our trusty AAA guidebook that the City Hall in SF is modeled after Les Invalides in Paris, and sure enough, it was! I'm not sure what's with the weird trees in front. I meant to research that when we got back to the hotel that evening, but we never got the internet working in our room. 1/400, f/8, ISO 100.

Conservatory of Flowers

AAA Guidebook told us that the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park would be open on Thanksgiving, but AAA Guidebook lied. I'm glad this photo ended up being one of my favourites from the trip, or I would have been angry. 1/400, f/8, ISO 100.

Japanese Tea Garden

The trip to Golden Gate Park wasn't a complete bust, however, since the Japanese Tea Garden was open. It's even open on Christmas, apparently. It was a bit smaller than I anticipated, but it was beautiful, and I got quite a few great photos. I also took some not-so-great photos, but that's all part of the learning process, right? 1/400, f/7.1, ISO 400.

Panda says to stay in school!

I snapped this while we were walking around Chinatown. It was painted on the side of an elementary school, and I thought it was hilarious. That's all. 1/160, f/3.5, ISO 400.

Mission Chapel

My mom and I agreed that our favourite place in San Francisco was the old Mission. This is the carving(?) that is above the altar in the small chapel. We also loved our visit to the Mission district because of the lunch we had there. As we were leaving the Mission, my mom commented that there would probably be great Mexican food in the neighbourhood, but it was hard to know where to go. I suggested that we go back inside the Mission and ask where they like to eat. The woman at the desk recommended Pancho Villa Taqueria, and it was fantastic. It was just your simple taqueria. We had fish tacos, which we often get at Baja Fresh in Chicago, but this was obviously a touch more authentic. The ingredients here were so fresh, and it was ridiculously cheap. They also had fresh juices and top-notch horchata. 1/60, f/2, ISO 800.


What's a trip to San Francisco without 923842398 photos of the Golden Gate Bridge, or "GGB," as I started calling it. My mom doesn't share my propensity for abbreviating things, so she was a bit confused. I took this from Lincoln Park, outside of the art museum, not long after my mom sprained my ankle running for the bus. I admit that I left her sitting on a bench while I trotted down a path to look for this shot. Don't worry - I promised her a copy. You know, I am scared to death of boats, but I would love to be on one of those sailboats under the bridge. With a wide-angle lens. Definitely with a wide-angle lens. 1/250, f/14, ISO 200.

Up next: Another skating competition!

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