Photo: San Francisco from the Municipal Pier on Film

Camera: Nikon L35AF

Film: Kodak Portra 400

Location: San Francisco, California viewed from the municipal pier

This photo shows San Francisco on a sunny, cloudless day from Municipal Pier. The pier is in semi-disrepair, with parts roped off and falling into the ocean.

But it’s a wonderful vantage point on the city. You can see a broad swatch of the skyline, including the iconic Transamerica Pyramid building and the looming new Salesforce Tower, both at left of frame. The tall ships of the Hyde Street Pier are just peeking out at the far left, and the Maritime Historic Park is in the foreground. It almost feels like this was taken on a boat.

In terms of an emulsion, I love how the subtle colors of Kodak Portra 400 bring out the blues in the water and sky without being obtrusive. This would be a very different photo shot on Ektar, like my photos from Half Moon Bay. It’s also very different from the soft, cinematic feel of a recent photo I shot on Cinestill.

It helps to divide the frame into three sections, with different blues above and below — nearly unbroken — and a line of colorful land and buildings in the middle of the frame.

This is also a great example of the capabilities and the look and feel of the Nikon L35AF. You get some really nice subtle vignetting in the corners, but a crisp feel throughout the frame. It’s kind of the camera’s signature look.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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