03 March 2011

San Francisco with Nat Geo

Back in November I took a trip to the west coast to spend a long weekend with my favorite National Geographic photographer, Catherine Karnow, in San Francisco.  I met her in the fall of 2009 when I took a trip to France for a week-long National Geographic Photography Expedition.  So, when I saw that she would be doing these short ones in San Fran, I jumped at the opportunity to learn more from her!

I went a full day and a half early to explore the city and adjust to the time change.  Exploring on my own is a touch intimidating, but I managed just fine, and everyone I ran into (including the two Clemson grads!) were so kind and super helpful.

As usual, I took a ton of pictures.  I originally was going to do this in two posts, but decided to just put them all into one.  Let me know which one is your favorite!  

In honor of winning a contest today that Delta held (I won two free airline tickets!!), I decided to have a contest of my own.  Sadly, I can't fly you and your BFF to San Fran... so instead you have the chance to win a copy of a picture from this post!  One lucky commenter will win a matted 8x10 of their favorite photo!  There are three ways to enter...

  • Leave a comment on this blog post 
  • Link to this post on Twitter and mention @sabrina_lewis
  • "Like" Photographs by Sabrina on Facebook and mention it in your status (to link to the fan page, simply type @Photographs by Sabrina and choose it from the list)
  • If you submit via Facebook, please note that in your comment here because it's not showing up on the Photographs by Sabrina page! Sorry about that!
A winner will be drawn one week from today (March 10)!  Good luck!



I soon discovered why photographers like Jasmine Star have loved San Fran for shooting.  The alleys are. to. die. for.
This couple was so sweet and totally humored me by modeling for a couple shots!

I know I've seen this view in some movie... extra bonus points if you can tell me what movie.


It took me a while, due to stopping and taking pictures, but I made it to the wharf around sunset.

The workshop wasn't starting until early Thursday evening so I spent my morning exploring Alcatraz.






The cells were sobering and life draining but the flowers and plants outside were the exact opposite.

When you find something really good, you want to try it again and again... especially when it comes to food.
So, I had dinner at Boudin Bakery the night before and went back for lunch the very next day.

Inside of Boudin Bakery it was like a miniature factory.  Everyone had a job and they did it so well and efficiently! 

This was the first shot on our first assignment on our first day of the workshop.  It's one of my top 5 favorites.

This guy was just adorable.

I'm going to give away a secret here... the picture on the left, one of my top five favorites, was taken with my camera at my hip.
I had the settings how I wanted them but everything else in this picture was complete luck.


Catherine went into this hair salon in Chinatown to tell them we were photography students and asked if we could hang out and shoot for a while.  Things were slow moving but I hung around for a bit and was pleased with what I was able to capture.

The guy in the back had just put down his newspaper... that would have made this fabulous picture an awesome picture.

I love this shot.  The only thing that I believe would have improved it is if someone had been walking by the open doorway at this exact moment...

We ventured to the top floor of this building to visit an incredibly old Chinese temple of sorts.  It was pretty fascinating. 
Photography tip: the picture on the right is one of my top five because I learned, while on this trip, that
backlighting sets off smoke really well in photographs.  I just love it. 

I love red.  I love patterns.  Therefore, I love this photo.

This guy was adorable.

Just in case you were confused, the guy on the left was in the class too :-)


This one also hits in my top five...

Next door to the Erhu instructor was a fortune cookie "factory".  And by "factory" I mean just what you see in the photo below.
These were some hard (and fast!) working women.

The fun part of this was I was able to put some of my own fortunes in some cookies.
And leave with several of the "bad" cookies, aka samples.  Woohoo!

Downtown San Fran at night.

The Golden Gate Bridge wasn't on the workshop itenerary so some of us decided to venture out before our scheduled
assignment on Saturday morning.  And I'm SO glad we went.  This picture is also in my top five.


I thought this shot was pretty cool.  Catherine loved it because of the different view point that isn't normally seen of this bridge.
Plus, the clouds are pretty amazing.


Wanted proof that I was there :-)  Thanks to Allyson Cary for snapping this for me!

This picture makes me want to be on one of those boats...

I PROMISE you there was no fog when we were on the other side of the bridge.  No idea where it comes from so quickly!

So, when we got to the other side of the bridge, it was like pulling teeth to get a cab to come and pick us up.
After 15,367 calls to the same cab company and a few other calls to different cab companies, this one finally came to our rescue
about an hour or more after we first called.  I've never been so happy to see a cabbie!

We finally made it to the Farmer's Market.  This shot is one of those that technically has everything right.
The "gesture" (exchange of money), the facial expressions, the colors, the lines... Not in my top five but I still really like it.


This guy and his band buddy, who played the string base, were really good!

I love the picture on the left for so many reasons... one of which is the juxtaposition (yes, I just used that word) 
of the older lady who looks lost in a memory and the two younger girls entranced with their phones.

Catherine's birthday was the Saturday of our workshop so we did what any normal group of people would do... we sang happy birthday and had cake!

Catherine is always so genuine and real when she talks about photography.  She's up front with what works and what doesn't, what she's learned and what she may not have a clue about!  And man, she has some of the best stories.... that's what you get for traveling around and meeting as many people as she has.  Thanks for all you do, Catherine!

So, Saturday afternoon, I ran up to my room after getting back to the hotel to find this single rose sitting on the desk.  Ben and I had only been dating for a couple of months, but he wanted me to know that he was thinking of me and happy for me getting the chance to go on this trip.
Yep... he's pretty great :-)

And this... this is the lobby of the Sir Francis Drake where we stayed.  So grand and exquisite.

On Sunday morning we were to go out into some San Fran neighborhoods for a few more hours of shooting.  However, when we woke up, it was pouring down rain.  So, we had our last Q&A and then said good bye.  I still had quite a bit of time before my flight so I ventured over to the Cafe Trieste since I had missed out on it due to my extended visit to the Golden Gate Bridge...

The atmosphere was fabulous and the people were very kind to let me photograph away while they did their own thing!


This was taken on my way back to the hotel before I had to leave.  I was actually on the phone when I caught this shot... and I may have chased this super cute Chinese grandma up the sidewalk to get just the right shot :-)  But I think it was worth it.

No, I didn't venture to London.  These guys were outside the hotel to help guests with directions, to grab a cab, or just chat about the city.  They were SO helpful all weekend and I had to grab a picture for the blog!


I quickly fell in love with San Francisco and can't wait to go back.


Don't forget to leave a comment and let me know which is your favorite.  And no... it doesn't have to be one of my top five!  Good luck!

20 comments:

Christen said...

Alright, I have NO idea which one I would pick because there are so many that are completely amazing. Thanks for hosting the contest and congrats on the Delta tickets! Woohoo!

(Off to post on Twitter and Facebook too!)

Anonymous said...

Lovely photos! I was in SF two years ago and also went to Alcatraz and walked on the Golden Gate Bridge, but your photos are (obviously) so much better than my snaps. I really love the red lantern pattern photo.
- Christen's friend Sarah

nora said...

Sabrina, these pictures are incredible! They make me want to go back to san francisco so badly. I love all of the colors that you were able to capture. It is so hard to choose a favorite. I love the Chinese lanterns and I love all of the colors in the scarves picture. The bridge pictures are amazing too. Awesome!

Julie said...

These are fantastic! Your work is stunning--every piece. The image of the soup-in-bread bowl made me salivate. But if I am to chose one that I would want in my house as an inspiration to me, I must chose the red lanterns hanging in a row. Keep up the good work!

The Schoon Scoop said...

These are amazing Sabrina! I love to live vicariously through all your adventuring. I also love that Ben sends flowers all the way across the country. I hope I get to meet him someday!

Natalie said...

Enter me, enter me! I love these pictures. Sometimes I wonder if your life is even real...

Natalie said...

ps - is the movie view you're referring to from Pretty Woman?

Jenn said...

I am so excited that Sabrina Lewis is taking our family pics in April! You are going to be a famous photographer for National Geographic some day! You have a gift!

RunWithIt Girl! said...

Awesome photos! My favorite is the one with the man looking at the scarfs for sale. love all the colors!

Kim said...

All these pictures are amazing. I don't know which one I would pick. Everytime I go to San Fran area I only spend one day there since my friend lives in San Jose.

Susan said...

My dear, you have a gift. All of your photos are beautiful, artful, whimsical, creative. I love the one of the GG bridge where it is on the left side of the shot and also the one of Union Sq. at night. Having been in SF last year, it was very cool to know where many of the shots were taken.

lindsay neely said...

love all of them!! but the one of the bridge looking into the clouds is my favorite. love you, kevin! (and the one of the rose, but for the reasons behind the rose, not just the photo.)

lindz

fortuitous faery said...

congrats on winning those delta tickets! how lucky of you! i'm glad i clicked on your blog to find your amazing photos! they're all so lovely, but my eyes are really attracted to the lantern shot with the red chinese tags! so vivid and dramatic!

i have never been to SF but hope to visit soon!

Rachel said...

I have 3 favorites. Sabrina, your talent is amazing. I love being able to watch the transformation of your skill over the years. Continue pursuing your passion! Love and miss you!

Joanna said...

Dude! Beautiful! I like the ones of the Golden Gate Bridge! And a lot of other ones! You're pretty talented! :-D

sutter girl said...

Looks like you had a FABULOUS Francisco excursion!! Very cool pictures!! Did you happen to make it to "SUTTER" street?? ;o)
Talk@ChaLatah!

Angie said...

What awesome pictures Sabrina! Makes me want to go to San Fran one day too.

Nelly Kane-Macias, SPHR said...

The first photo is my favorite!

S J said...

Beautiful shots! I need lessons!!! Seriously. I really mean it. When can I meet up with you before we move to Germany? I cannot go to Europe not knowing what to do!!! :)

LIz said...

I love them all!! Makes me miss living there!! I love the picture of the golden gate looking up at the clouds!! And the picture of the houses but I have no idea what movie they are from!

I'm a Greenville, SC based wedding and portrait destination photographer who loves to be behind the lens. I look forward to hearing what you think about the posts and images as I work with amazing people to capture life and give them images they love.
Check out the website! http://photographsbysabrina.com