September Supermoon Series

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Last Sunday wasn’t a full moon night, but it was close. I found myself on Treasure Island at sunset, viewing the rising moon above the new bridge. The old bridge, with a gap where a span’s been removed, lay behind. I wasn’t the only one who was fascinated by the sight; there were perhaps half a dozen photographers out there, mostly with fine cameras, large lenses, and tripods.

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My camera is my trusty Nikon Coolpix. It lives in my pocket or my purse. But whatever the camera, it was hard to go wrong on such an exquisite evening.

pics49 012a In fact, in some ways it’s easier to get a moon shot on a not-quite-full moon night. It’s a little less overwhelming for the camera.

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The next night was the Supermoon – and the clouds rolled in to San Francisco. But still, I got a shot from nearby Twin Peaks.

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I’d hoped to get one behind Sutro Tower, but the alignments didn’t work out. Another night, another time.

The Moon in June

Full moon, clear night! How often does that happen in San Francisco?

And I have a new camera, a Nikon Coolpix. It’s a pocket camera (literally, it often travels in my pocket). But it is a whole lot better in low light than the old Canon.

nightfall in san franciscoOne of the joys of our neighborhood is that Twin Peaks is so near by. I got there just after sunset, as the city lights started to twinkle.

full moon over San Francisco

Others were there, too, taking photos with everything from smartphones to impressive cameras with tripods. It’s a neat thing that the full moon always rises around the same time as the sun sets.

tourists at sunset - twin peaks - san francisco

And to my delight, my camera actually could take a picture of the full moon. This is my best ever shot with a pocket camera. It’s so much better than the one I took through binoculars last month!

full moon june 2014




Uncaptured Moonrise Over the Bay

Driving back from an errand over Twin Peaks last evening, I saw someone pull his car over, stop, and get out. He  was looking fixedly toward the East. I wondered what he’d seen.

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It was the moon, rising redly from a low-lying belt of haze. I pulled over, too, in a wide space on the road, and tried to get some photographs with my cellphone.  It didn’t work. None of them captured the red color of the rising moon.

I tried to adjust the color in the picture below, but that didn’t work either: it made the whole picture reddish. Still, it has a painterly look I rather like, even if it doesn’t look like the moonrise I saw.


All I can do is to say, like Shakespeare, “This blogger, with cellphone, car, and bush of thorn/ Presenteth Moonshine” and hope you can imagine it.

moon through thorn bush

Rainbow Lights in San Francisco

If any city is celebrating the Supreme Court’s recent judgement about the Defense of Marriage Act, and about Proposition 8 (which made same-sex marriage illegal in Calfornia), it would be San Francisco. Everything’s coming up rainbows.

I went to Twin Peaks to see City Hall lit up. I’d been told Coit Tower also was, and some other buildings, but it’s City Hall that really counts. And it was visible, much more so than this shot below would indicate. (My camera really doesn’t like low-light conditions.)

rainbow lit city hall and san francisco lights

The web’s been flooded with pictures, of course. But it was exciting, and I felt I really needed to see it, up close, in person. It was nearing 11 p.m. when I got to City Hall, but it wasn’t deserted. Clusters of people wandered around, looking at the lights, which were spectacular. Everyone was taking photographs, with everything from iPhones to professional quality equipment with tripods.

everyone was taking photographs at City Hall

I took a few of my own with my little Point-and-shoot thingy that doesn’t like night time shots. But City Hall was so bright, they came out okay anyway.

San Francisco City Hall with rainbow lights to celebrate fall of DOMA and Prop8I remember reading, many years ago, a short story that had two gay guys married to each other. Then, it was science fiction. Now, it’s becoming real (again) in San Francisco. One of the marvelous ways in which we live in the future.

Grocery Run at Sunset

Thursday evening, I was coming back from a grocery run over Twin Peaks.  (We get scenic grocery runs, out here in Forest Knolls.)

The sunset really actually looked like this.

I went twice around Twin Peaks so I wouldn’t miss any of it.

So much drama! It looked like it needed a musical accompaniment.

San Francisco, Clouds and a Banner in the Sky

One of the wonderful things about our neighborhood, the counterbalance to the forested Mount Sutro on one side, is the view-platform of Twin Peaks on the other.

The other day, someone called me. “You have to go up to see the view,”  he said. “The air is clear and the clouds are dramatic.” So I went.

Here’s what it looked like. The view was sharp and the clouds were indeed dramatic. And the scene was enlivened by a small aircraft buzzing around, trailing a large red banner. I couldn’t read it as it waved through the sky like a giant flag. But I liked the effect against the backdrop of the clouds and I took a few shots with my pocket camera.

Later, when I downloaded the pictures, I figured out what it said: The all new Camry is here.

But even without the airplane and the banner, the view was amazing.

Just another gorgeous day in gorgeous San Francisco, to remind us that some of the most scenic places in the city are only minutes from our doorstep.

(I’m sticking with our not-so-new Camry.)


Coyotes on Twin Peaks

Some of you already know there are coyotes living in the area: one, maybe two families are somewhere around in the Twin Peaks/Glen Canyon/Golden Gate Park habitats. We’d posted about it on the Sutro Forest website, here.

Today, someone on our neighborhood group described an encounter with a coyote on Twin Peaks while out running with their dogs, early in the morning… in which the coyote chased them off the hill:

I spotted a coyote running up the street…  I would stop and yell at him and tell him to go away (as if), and he would briefly stop but continued coming…..we finally got away…must be protecting his cubs.

It ended with a warning to people going up there with small unleashed dogs. (The coyote picture here isn’t of that coyote; it’s a public domain photograph.)

[ETA 25 May 2011: I personally saw a coyote a couple of days or rather, nights, later. It was around midnight, on the other side of Twin Peaks, near Panorama. Possibly the same animal.]

I’d like to refer everyone to the brilliant Coyote Yipps blog. It’s kept by Janet Kessler, the “Jane Goodall of San Francisco’s coyotes.” It minutely observes and documents the behaviour of a family of coyotes she watches (and also another family of coyotes in Los Angeles, observed by Charles Wood).

However: It also posts a warning.

More importantly, if you go with dogs into coyote areas (most open parkland in San Francisco or its surroundings):  What concerns coyotes is dogs. Here are the special guidelines for dog-walkers. (Note that the person who originated this warning did the right thing by yelling at the coyote.)

[ETA: However, Janet Kessler added in a private communication: “…it is best never to run away from a coyote, but rather to walk away slowly. Running away sparks an instinct to chase.”]

Here’s a link to a Coyote Yipps post with more detailed pointers for dog-walkers. I’d recommend them to everyone. Janet Kessler’s been watching coyotes and their interactions with people and dogs for some years now. She’s deeply knowledgeable.

The Prettiest Day in San Francisco

Now that the spell of Spring-in-January weather seems over, I can post this without jinxing it… I wanted to talk about the 17th of January. The day dawned bright and blue, and  in the afternoon, I went out to Glen Canyon.

Most of the year, it’s dry and brown, punctuated with hillside bushes and rock formations. Not now. The winter’s rain has transformed it to a vivid green.

The sun slanted through the trees. A few people sat around, gazing at the beauty of the place, the sea of eucalyptus trees below.

And then the fog started to roll in, rather like the Sandburg poem. The light softened, became pinker. The view through the trees took on a magical tint, like a portal to a fantastical world.

I drove home via Twin Peaks,  and this was the view:

And this was the view from the other side…

It may have been the prettiest day of my life (which has encompassed many pretty days in many pretty places). Of course the photographs don’t begin to do it justice.

But it wasn’t just me. A few days later, I mentioned it to a friend. “You’re telling me!” she said. She’d been driving to Cavallo Point that evening, and behind her saw San Francisco under the fog. “I couldn’t sleep that night. The intense beauty of that image…” She sighed.

Happy New Year in 2011!

Right now, looking from Twin Peaks, downtown is a lovely blaze of lights. The dome of City Hall, only recently lit in orange for the Giants, morphed to green with red stripes below (perhaps for Christmas?), and then to red with green stripes below, maybe for New Year?

Question of the moment: will remain clear for the fireworks on the Embarcadero? It’s looking good so far. And whatever the weather, where ever you’re reading this, here’s wishing everyone a very happy 2011!

[Edited to Add: It started raining just around midnight… the fireworks went on anyway. I could hear them but didn’t go to watch.]

Twin Peaks, Fog, and Invisibility

In the last week, we’ve had some dense fog, and Twin Peaks is a great place to watch it scudding in on the wind. I was up there the other day, slowly circling the peaks, when a woman in a car pulled up beside me and rolled down her window.

“Does this road only go to the lookout point?” she asked. I explained that it continued down to residential areas on the other side. I don’t blame her for asking. The fog had settled in, transforming the place into an isolated gray mountain, with little indication we were in a city. We could have driven into … the Twilight Zone.

This nearly-invisible person is walking safely on the other side of the wall


One indication we hadn’t:   joggers, dog-walkers, and bike riders. There weren’t many up there, with all that fog, but there are always a few – diehards or fog-lovers.

To them, I have a request: Please wear bright light colors, preferably with reflectors, especially toward evening. Twilight sucks all the colors out, and the fog even more so.  The dark red hoodie isn’t bright in fading light, it’s nearly black. The person in navy blue was nearly invisible, so also the bike-rider in gray. If I can’t see you easily… All it takes is one careless or distracted or confused driver to ruin your whole entire day. Please stay safe.

Critter-Spotting on a Foggy Night

A foggy night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets… and me, prowling along in my little car, hoping it would share them. Not the kind of secrets found in City Hall or downtown in the dark alleys… critters.

Foggy nights are often good for critter-spotting. On Panorama Drive, I saw a trio of raccoons chase each other across the road and disappear into the shadows between two houses. And then, on Twin Peaks, which was densely swathed in fog, a barn owl!

I’ve been wanting to see one, ever since learning that they do inhabit San Francisco. This one was sitting by the side of the road, like a large white cat wanting to thumb a ride. Cursing myself for forgetting my camera, I stopped the car and put my flashers on to watch it.  I was afraid someone coming fast round the bend might take it out, and wished it would move. It walked down the road a bit, which didn’t help. Two cars went around me.  Then the  owl took flight, just a few feet, but thankfully onto the hillside.

I went home for my camera, but the owl had moved on. At least it wasn’t roadkill.