Back in high school I was a member of the JROTC program, mainly because it was an alternative to P.E. and let's face it who likes having to dress for P.E. anyways?
The annual spring competition amongst the city's participating high schools was held on the Main Parade Grounds at the Presidio. For those unfamiliar the Presidio, it was once an army base in real life, and home to Starfleet Command Headquarters in the world of Star Trek.
It's been over a decade since I've been to the parade grounds as I've no reason to visit since I've graduated. On this particular day our group had wanted to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge during golden hour, but as is the norm during the Summer months, sunset isn't until well after 8pm therefore we had a few hours to kill. Coincidently all of us went through the same JROTC program so for nostalgia's sake we decided to see the old drilling grounds.
What was a giant plaza made of concrete have now been thoroughly paved over with real grass. I suppose the lawn is exponentially more colorful and useful than before, but it always hurts slightly when a piece of memory from childhood get converted to something else. We even had to pay for parking; back then it was free.
Scattered about the vast lawn are these funky decorative chairs people can lounge on. Depending on which side you flip it to one can either sit upright or flat like a La-Z-Boy. The chairs are not bolted down, though it's big enough to render it difficult for someone to steal. As we found out it takes at least two person to carry them about, not that we were attempting any thievery.
Having lounged to our content on those red chairs, we ventured off to survey the buildings surrounding the parade grounds. These used to be the living quarters for soldiers; nowadays it's rental space for small exhibitions. With real estate so prime and dear in San Francisco I wonder why these buildings haven't yet been redeveloped or at very least rented out.
Seeing these buildings brings me back to when the JROTC program went to Camp Parks for a week of boot camp fun. Back then there were no smartphones and the barracks definitely lacked any sort of entertainment devices. During downtime we were "forced" to converse with each other; hang out in small courtyards like one pictured above.
In our hyper-connected world today I think we all could use some of that down-to-earth bonding with one another. It can be as simple as eating with a group of friends with our cellphones on silent and in the pockets.
As you may have noticed from the pictures thus far the weather this day was not exactly conducive to golden hour shots of the Golden Gate Bridge: it was an overwhelmingly cloudy day. San Francisco played its usual trick on us because in my south-eastern side neighborhood it was positively sun-burn territory; seven miles westward it's a blanket of fog.
We had thought it was a total bust and would have to return another day, but during our walk around the Presidio the clouds gradually receded somewhat. An hour ago from when the above shot was taken we were unable to see Alcatraz. Thinking since we are here let's try our luck anyways, we headed off towards the other side of the Bay.
But not before we stopped briefly to check out this weird art installation, still within the greater Presidio:
It appears to be a collection of fallen tree trunks (sure hope it wasn't deliberately chopped off for the purpose) tied together into this enormous cone-shaped tower. It's difficult to comprehend the size from the photos; I had to stand relatively far away from the structure to get its entire height into frame.
I've taken photos of the Golden Gate Bridge from numerous vantage points, but there was one that have eluded me (out of sheer laziness, I'll readily admit): the vista point at Fort Baker. It's directly across the Bay from where we were at the Presidio, so there was no avoiding the hefty bridge toll.
By this time it was an hour before sunset, and as you can see the clouds were simply too stubborn on this day: there will be no perceptible golden hour. Undeterred, I broke out the ND filters and proceeded to shoot some long exposure:
We took the opportunity to walk underneath the bridge as well:
After enduring the neck pain from staring high up we moved over to the lone pier that juts out from the shore. It offers a panoramic view of the entire northern side of San Francisco, from Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate. Sadly I did not take a panoramic shot of said panoramic view.
A commercial freight ship was on its way west towards the Pacific Ocean so as one does we snapped shots of it as it crosses under the famous landmark:
One more attempt at long-exposure later, this time with the 3-stop ND instead of the 10-stop, and our day was done. I intend to return to this spot when the weather is fairer and with a steadier tripod because it was way windier than I'd thought.