Beacon Season 2018

Beacon Season in San Francisco is in full effect as the holiday’s approach as a special appearance is made by a famous lighthouse that is also the City’s most recognizable building. (Keep reading below…)

A7ii w/ 16-35mm GM 30 sec f11 ISO 160

A7ii w/ 16-35mm GM 15 sec f11 ISO 100

The ‘Crown Jewel’ of the Transamerica Pyramid is a 6,000-watt beacon that coincides with a 1,000-watt high-voltage, red neon lamp which is mandated by the FAA. There isn’t a published schedule as to when the power gets flipped on in the beacon, but you can usually see it during big holidays and special events. 

It adds some zest to what already is a great skyline and as someone who shoots in the City often at night, it adds some excitement to getting certain shots. You need to move quickly to get multiple frames because like Cinderella, the beacon’s magic vanishes at midnight.

A7ii w/ 16-35mm GM 30 sec f11 ISO 100

A7ii w/ 85mm GM 30 sec f16 ISO 320

A7ii w/ 16-35mm GM 20 sec f11 ISO 100

I first heard the phrase “Beacon Season” from my friend, Brandon, over a year ago and it instantly stuck in my mind because it fit so perfectly. He told me that he had made it up on a whim and it was one of those sayings that I would repeat to others who would recognize its natural ring as well. 

Fast forward to a couple weekends ago, some buddies and I went out looking for some choice views on what were clear nights. Our friend, Matt, was in town to visit from Jacksonville so Jude, Marcus and I showed him around San Francisco on two different nights. Too bad he didn’t have more time because there is so much more to see than two nights of shooting could ever cover.

A7ii w/ 16-35mm GM 30 sec f11 ISO 100

A7Riii w/ 100-400mm GM 30 sec f16 ISO 500

It may go without saying for experienced photographers, but a quick tip when shooting the beacon is to set your aperture to f11 or higher (I prefer anything from f11 to f16) to create a flare with the light. Hopefully you enjoyed the photos and can check out the lit up beacon yourself in the near future. I’ve tagged my friends’ instagram handles below, so please check them out!

Marcus -

Jude -

Matt -

Brandon -

A7Riii w/ 100-400mm GM 20 sec f11 ISO 320

A7ii w/ 16-35mm GM 30 sec f11 ISO 160

Turkey Day Sunrise in San Francisco

For the second year in a row, my good friend Marcus and I have made it a ‘tradition’ to shoot sunrise on Thanksgiving before heading off for a day with our families. We were lucky to see an amazing sunrise last year with a group of folks at Kirby Cove, so this year we decided to head towards Battery Spencer and found parking at the lot just above. 

It wasn’t too cold, but I was prepared with layers and had a coffee from 7-eleven not too far away. I set up my MeFoto Roadtrip tripod with my Sony Alpha A7ii and attached the Haida 10-stop ND Filter (NanoPro ND 3.0) to the 24-70 G-Master lens. After a few exposures, Marcus showed up and we were catching up as the color started to sink into the clouds above the South Tower. 

A few more moments passed while I was taking shots with and without the filter, just before the sun’s light spilled over the clouds from the East. It was a sight to see and you feel a great energy from the sun when it makes its appearance in the early morning.

We wrapped a short while later and wished each other a Happy Thanksgiving. It was a great start to what would be a great day and I’m very thankful to have Marcus as a friend. Check him out on here…

I didn’t notice until several days later during post-processing, that the second to last photo in this set looks as if a hand-like cloud is forming a finger that points towards the North Tower. 

It was a bit shocking and exciting to see and a few close friends and family members may or may not have received text messages around midnight on a Monday night asking “Does this look like a hand…”. I went back to editing and my phone buzzed about an hour later with a text from my mom that read, “Yes it does”. That is all I needed to hear because I learned a long time ago, that Mama is always right. 

The photos below are in chronological order from the morning of November 22nd, 2018.

24-70 GM, 30 sec f8 ISO 200

24-70 GM w/ 10-stop ND filter, 30 sec f16 ISO 100

24-70 GM, 1/20 sec f16 ISO 100

24-70 GM w/ 10-stop ND filter, 20 sec f16 ISO 100

24-70 GM, 1/20 sec f16 ISO 100

24-70 GM w/ 10-stop ND filter, 30 sec f22 ISO 100

16-35 GM w/ 10-stop ND filter, 6 sec f16 ISO 100

24-70 GM, 1/1600 sec f8 ISO 100


Mario (@maynorchrome)

Donny (@alphawanderlust)

John (@jbbevel)

Tyler (

Left: Chris (@independentcbh) Center: Felipe (@the_lost_coast) Right: Collin (@collincreates)

Dave (@davvealcaraz)

Mario (@maynorchrome)

Left: Collin (@collincreates) Right: Dave (@davvealcaraz)

Gabe (@831gaberodriguez)

Camera setup for the photo booth on the third floor w/ an iPad and printer.

Ice cream filled tacos with your choice of melted dipping sauce - I had the peanut butter ice cream with the dark chocolate hot fudge!

Local bikers as we explored outside - luckily they didn’t turn around after I took this.

Sony Alpha sure knows how to throw a party! #BeAlphaSF was at Dogpatch Studios in San Francisco last Sunday and there were hundreds of people in attendance. 

There were tons of photo opportunities, free food and drink with lots of free swag being given out - there was even a free vending machine with shirts, stickers and prisms near the front door. Every person who rented a camera and lens got to keep a brand new Sony G-Series 64GB SD card and a matching card reader. I opted for the A7Riii and 85 mm G-Master lens since my typical landscape/cityscape scene wasn’t an option as was expected.

They had models posing on multiple sets with unique florescent lights, projectors and a smoke machine. There were acrobats hanging from the ceiling while others did flips on a trampoline with a sunset backdrop. Not to mention, the organized photo walks outside for portraits, color and action with everything from skaters on a half pipe, to models dressed in elaborate costumes and makeup, to being able to ‘rent’ a model for your own ideas.

Alpha Female, which is a revolutionary ‘creator-in-residence’ program for women, was also formally announced. It will reward chosen applicants a 25K grant, 5k in gear, network opportunities and mentorship from other Alpha Females like the keynote speaking of the event and National Geographic Photographer, Cristina Mittermeier. 

With all that being said, I chose to mostly hang with my friends at the event while meeting some new ones along the way. It was awesome just catching up with them and plus, taking photos of models and posed portraits really isn’t my thing anyway. 

I was very proud to have some of my closest friends there because Sony has already done so much for me as a photographer and person. It was very cool to them to experience Sony’s generosity and humbling to be again reminded how lucky I am to be a Sony Ambassador.

That is why I mostly took candids and portraits of my friends in between conversations, jokes and hugs. 

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