Angel Island

Last week I finally bought my digital SLR camera. I bought the Canon Rebel XT from my local Costco. I figured I take advantage of Costco's liberal return policy.

On Friday I got an email from a friend about a hiking trip to Angel Island. Great! I've always wanted to go back there, plus I have a new camera I wanted to take for a test drive. I've only been to Angel Island once, during high school on our Asian-American club field trip. Angel Island is the Ellis Island of the west. It has an immigration station where Chinese immigrants were detained in the early to mid 20th century, until they were allowed to enter the country. I remember the place reminded me of concentration camps I shown in the movie Shindler's List.

On Saturday morning, I took the 7AM BART from Pleasanton to the city. I wanted to go to walk around Union Square to take pictures, but since I had a 5 mile hiking to do later in the day, I decided to just go to the Ferry Building in the Embarcadero. On Saturdays they have farmers market there, so it was a great atmosphere. I decided against taking pictures of people there since I didn't know if they would mind. But I did get some pictures of the Bay Bridge, Treasure Island, and the Ferry Building.

After an hour in the Embarcadero, it was time to head up to Pier 39. I was gonna walk, but I was short on time, so I took the street car MUNI up and enjoyed the view of the several piers along the way. There were lots of joggers and tourist walking along Embarcadero.

Pier 39 was mostly deserted. It was too early in the morning and most shops were still close. I decided to grab a coffee before I stroll around and take more pictures. The view of the city is really nice from that pier, too bad it was too foggy. I walked around pier 39 for about an hour taking pictures of the sea lions, shops and Alcatraz Island.

The ferry ride to Angel Island was really fun. I've never taken the ferry from SF so I was excited. I also have a new camera with me, so it makes it more exciting. On the way to Angel Island, we got a decent view of the city, the Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. If could have been better but the fog covered most of the view. The ferry stopped at Alcatraz and Tiburon, before finally stopping at Angel Island.

The 5 mile hike around Angel Island is not too bad, we had to stay on a paved road most of the time, but we managed to find trails to the beach. From the beach, we could see the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge. As well as Alcatraz and SF. Again, the fog enveloped most of them, but its alright. Its what the area is famous for.

The hike was also fun because we had a big group. We had 12 people of mixed education and professional backgrounds.

After the hike, I went to a friend's dental office in the Embarcadero. We had dinner at Chevy's and then went to a friend's place in Chinatown. We hung out there until midnight and a friend drove with me to Pleasanton.

Sunday is Sabbath where I pay respect to the football gods. Of course the football gods haven't been helping my Niners the past few years. They lost 52-... well lets just say, they got their asses handed to them.

I also went to a photography presentation in Pleasanton library. The speaker is an author of a new book and also the founder of BetterPhoto.com I talk was basically about taking good pictures, lighting, composition, etc. Stuff I've read about before, but always forget to do when I'm actually taking pictures.

Speaking of great pictures, I finally downloaded the pics from the Angel Island trip. The pictures didn't come out as great as I had hoped. Most of the shots are soft or out of focus. The fog around the bay really affected the lighting and that strong coffee I had in the morning made my hand shake while taking pictures. A tripod would have been really helpful, but I don't have $150 for a tripod yet. I'm also not used to taking pictures with a big camera, and of course the Rebel XT is famous for its small hand grip.

I'll take more shots with the camera to figure out if its a keeper. Three of the people I went hiking with have the Nikon D70. That was my second option. Its only 6MP, but its really easy to hold since it's a little bigger and heavier than the Rebel XT.

I'll post pictures of the trip when I find time...


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