Leo Laksi’s Bangkok And Back

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

Posts Tagged ‘California

Sunrise at Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39

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On a recent trip to San Francisco, I woke up early every morning to catch the sunrise over the Oakland Hills.  The sun rising high enough to illuminate the tops of the buildings.   And as I was in the Fisherman’s Wharf area, I walked towards Pier 39 and then back to the hotel.  Other than the typical jogger, there were very few people in the vicinity.  This makes for a very peaceful and introspective walk.  Nothing to distract you except for the beauty of the bay.  Lost in thought about composition, lighting and camera settings. And hot dogs.

Photos taken with a Leica M8 and Carl Zeiss Biogon 21mm f/2.8 lens and Summilux 75mm f/1.4 lenses.






Written by leolaksi

May 6, 2009 at 7:04 am

Glimpse of resolution – Leica M8 and Carl Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 lens

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There’s always so much chatter about sensor size with everything between the standard point & shoot cameras to state of the art DSLR advertising sensors ranging from 12+megapixels to 24.4 megapixels.  And of course there are sensors of all sizes that differentiates the p&s’s from the DSLRs.  And more megapixels, as least in theory, make for higher resolution.

Well, the Leica M8 uses a 10.3 megapixel sensor and on paper you make think that its been left behind by the DSLRs.  In some ways, its has, from it’s lackluster performance at high ISO to its spotty firmware.  But is it still capable of great images and when paired with a well-performing lens,  can hold its own against the state of the art DSLR’s that it competes with in terms of pricing.

I believe that the available lenses play a big part for the M8’s performance.  In this posting, the photos are all taken with a Carl Zeiss Biogon 21mm f/2.8 lens.  This lens sells for 1/4 the price of the Leica Elmarit 21mm f/2.8.  And although it doesn’t bear the Leica brand and isn’t made in Germany, its resolution is exceptional.

For example the above photo is cropped from the photo below. Take a look at the three other photos and their cropped versions.  Not bad huh?  Take a look at the entire photo and see if you can find the cropped example.

All photos taken handheld with Leica M8 and a Carl Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 lens.  Photos as downloaded from the M8.  Minimal  post-processing. Noise reduction turned off, slight sharpening.  No change in saturation, contrast or other variables.








Written by leolaksi

April 28, 2009 at 7:04 am

San Francisco’s Aquarium Of The Bay

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One of the highlights of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf is a visit to the Aquarium Of The Bay located at Pier 39.  Although its not a large aquarium, visitors do have an opportunity to walk on the sea floor and observe native San Francisco sea life in its natural environment.  There are also a number of other exhibits that make the visit worthwhile.  In particular I was fascinated by the jellyfish tank.   The jellyfish floated in the water, as if in suspended animation, with   their tentacles draped below and moving with the currents in the tank.  The jellyfish had a natural luminescence that gave them an eerie, almost supernatural, appearance.

Photos taken with Leica M8 with Carl Zeiss Biogon 21mm f/2.8 lens.





Written by leolaksi

April 23, 2009 at 6:45 am

Walking Pier 39 in San Francisco one sunny morning

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Ok so Pier 39 is wall to wall tourists who wander about along the Embarcadero waterfront north towards the San Francisco Maritime Aquatic Park.  Besides the myriad of shops and restaurants at Pier 39, the Aquarium Of The Bay is also located there.


Over the years, the flavor of Pier 39 has not changed.  It’s a great location for families to spend time in a tourist environment that is both predictable and beautiful.  This area is a tourist magnet, no doubt about it.  But so what?   Tourists visiting this area enjoy themselves and usually come back with a favorable impression of San Francisco (although they may be a little cold).

I used to live in San Francisco years ago and didn’t spend much time in this area except to have dinner at Scoma’s at Fisherman’s Wharf.  On this trip we stayed near the wharf and found this location to be central to visiting other parts of San Francisco as well as other destinations in the Bay Area.

Photos taken with a Leica M8 and Carl Zeiss Biogon 21mm f/2.8 and Summilux 75mm f/1.4 lenses.






Written by leolaksi

April 18, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Walking the San Francisco Maritime Aquatic Park

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Just beyond Fisherman’s Wharf at the far end of Jefferson Street is the San Francisco Maritime Aquatic Park.  In the early morning sunlight, the walk from the Hyde Street Pier (Hyde at Jefferson Sts.) to the curving pier to the west is a natural stress reducer.   From the bright blue of the bay and the sky to the sunlit Golden Gate Bridge to the west, the views are as inspiring as can be found in any urban environment.  The sounds of the seabirds and the gentle surf, the scent of the seawater and solitude of the bay with the city as a backdrop is very special.

Photos taken with a Leica M8 and Carl Zeiss Biogon 21mm f/2.8 or Summilux 75mm f/1.4 lens.






Written by leolaksi

April 12, 2009 at 8:15 am

San Francisco cable car and the “F” line trolley – perfect pairing

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Cable car approaching Hyde - Beach turnaround

Cable car approaching Beach - Hyde turnaround

Many  visitors to San Francisco (and Fisherman’s Wharf) place a cable car ride on the  “must-d0” list.  And of course it’s a lot of fun to catch the Powell – Hyde cable car at the Beach – Hyde turnaround near Fisherman’s Wharf and then cross Russian Hill and Nob Hill to end up at the other turnaround at Powell and Market.  But it’s no fun to then line up for the return trip to Fisherman’s Wharf.  On the particular day we rode the cable car, the line at the Beach – Hyde turnaround was at least 100 passengers deep and the return was approximately 200.

Cable car at Powell turnaround

Cable car at Powell turnaround

As a fun alternative, walk across Market from the cable car turnaround and take the F Line trolley that travels down Market Street to the Ferry Building then along the Embarcadero to the its turnaround on Jones Street at Beach Street in the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf.   And about three blocks from where you started your journey on the cable car.  These trolleys are antiques and are as interesting as the cable cars.

I also recommend that you buy an unlimited use one day pass for $11 for all SF Municipal Transportation Agency (affectionately known as “Muni”) lines including the cable cars, trolley cars, and buses.

All photos taken with a Leica M8 and Carl Zeiss Biogon 21mm f/2.8 lens or a Summilux 75mm f/1.4 lens.

A F line trolley across Market Street from the Powell St. turnaround

A F line trolley across Market Street from the Powell St. turnaround

Trolley heading down Market towards the Ferry Building

Trolley heading down Market towards the Ferry Building

Same orange trolley at the Ferry Bldg.

Same orange trolley at the Ferry Bldg.

F Line trolley at Jones Street turnaround in Fishermans's Wharf area

F Line trolley at Jones Street turnaround in Fishermans's Wharf area

Written by leolaksi

April 11, 2009 at 11:23 am

Muir Woods north of San Francisco – don’t miss it.

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One of the highlights to any trip to San Francisco is a visit to Muir Woods located north of the Golden Gate Bridge off the highway from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach.  It’s not a long drive, probably about 15 miles north of San Francisco. Take US101 across the Golden Gate Bridge, get off the highway at the Stinson Beach exit  and follow the signs.


One does not see many locals visiting Muir Woods as they have the luxury of many destinations in beautiful Marin Country and beyond.  And tourists usually are bound to a few days in the area.  As a result, one sees many tourists (and school groups) at Muir Woods.  But thats not a bad thing although Muir Woods, being the focal point of tourists wanting to see coastal redwoods, does become congested when the weather is sunny and dry.


There are many miles of trails and the farther you roam from the parking lot, the fewer people you do see.   And if the weather is wet and foggy, well, there are even fewer people.  I happen to like the wet weather as the experience is more primeval.  The dampness of the air, the scent of the redwoods and other fauna, and fewer people can make the visit more personal, a sense of being part of nature.

All photos were with either a Leica M8 with Carl Zeiss Biogon 21mm f/2.8 lens or a Panasonic Lumix G1 with Lumix 45 – 200mm f/4 – 5.6 lens.




Written by leolaksi

April 10, 2009 at 11:53 am