The Life in My Years

An anthology of life

Anne Sandler hosts this week’s Lens Artists Challenge and has chosen the topic, Local Vistas.

I live in Hercules, California, between a range of hills (and the rest of America) to the east and San Francisco to the west.

Hercules is what you might call bland suburbia. Strip malls, tract housing and a city council’s yearning to be something other than a bedroom community.

That said, there’s much to be found by taking just a short drive.

At sunrise, the East Bay Hills might be adorned with eddies of morning fog.

San Francisco is about thirty minutes away on a good day – okay, a REALLY good day.

On the way you pass by Emeryville and its little marina. I’m a long time distance runner and my favorite boat is berthed here – Endurance.

The drive into The City goes past the busy Port of Oakland which handles 99% of the containers that move through Northern California. On average, 2.5 million containers pass through the port every year.

Parks and trails in the area afford interesting views of the bay and the port operations.

A stack of containers at the Port of Oakland

Cranes at the port resemble something out of War of the Worlds

Heading into San Francisco over the Bay Bridge one is graced by a view of the downtown skyline.

A Saturday morning on the waterfront is a good time to visit the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building where you can browse the stalls, vibrant with fresh produce, flowers and other delectables.

Get something to eat from a diverse selection of food purveyors and look out over the bay where the Bay Bridge does a disappearing act into the fog.

Just south of the Bay Bridge is the South Beach Marina where the rich folk berth their sailboats.

Sunrise at South Beach

Head west just a few blocks and you’ve arrived at downtown where the tech industry, for better or for worse, has left its mark on The City.

The LinkedIn building reflects The City.

Catch a cable car.

A cable car blurs up Powell St.

Or a bus

Or be entertained

Kinda creepy

Two of my favorite districts are North Beach and the Mission.

On the way to North Beach you pass by the unique Transamerica Pyramid.

Looking up through Transamerica’s beams

Some of the most charming walks in The City are through its many alleys. Below is an alley in North Beach, San Francisco’s Little Italy.

If you want to work off the pizza that you had in North Beach, take a walk up Telegraph Hill to fluted Coit Tower, completed in 1933.

Step inside the lobby at the base and view the magnificent murals that were painted in 1934 as a part of the Public Works of Art Project, a precursor to the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The murals depict life in California during the Great Depression.


With its Latino roots, the Mission District is one of The City’s most colorful. The whole neighborhood is a vibrant palette of murals and brightly painted buildings.

Head back home over the Golden Gate at night.

After a long day, the sun sets over San Pablo Bay at Hercules.

It’s fashionable in some circles of the media to bash San Francisco. My answer to that is summed up in my favorite line from the movie The Last Black Man in San Francisco. “You don’t get to hate San Francisco. You don’t get to hate it unless you love it,”

I love it – period!

To view Anne’s impressions of Sacramento please click on the link and then visit the comments section to see other takes on Local Vistas.

24 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Challenge: Local Vistas

  1. Anne Sandler says:

    Oh my, Paul, what a great tour of SF! Your pictures are stunning and make me want to visit again. Can we see some of Hercules some day?

    1. Paul says:

      Hercules? Uhhh, sure. Hercules started with a black powder factory and there are some old buildings. Thank you for the kind words.

  2. Your photos are wonderful! I love to visit San Francisco no matter how many times I’ve been there; many people seem surprised when I tell them so. I’m from Seattle, and the same thing is happening here. Sure, there are problems, but what a city!

    1. Paul says:

      Hi Susanne, So sorry for the tardy response. San Francisco gets bad press for any number of reasons and that’s fine with me. Keeps the riff raff out.
      Thank you so much for visiting and thank you for loving San Francisco.

  3. A wonderful set of photo’s today Paul! Cool to make the drive into town. I don’t know what the Michael Jackson impersonator sounds like, but the looks are spot on!

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you Peter. As I recall, the MJ impersonator was dancing, which he did quite well, and lip syncing to recordings.

  4. You are making me very nostalgic for San Francisco!

    1. Paul says:

      The City awaits you.

  5. Jane Fritz says:

    Simply amazing, Paul. ❤️

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you Jane. Much appreciated.

  6. Wonderful photos. That first photo of sunrise and fog is stunning. I love the way you lined up the flag with Coit Tower, with one seam lying along part of the outline. But a lot of great shots here.

    1. Paul says:

      So sorry for the late response.
      Thank you so much for the kind words. I also like the way I managed to line up the seam of the flag with the tower. I wish I could take credit for doing that by design but as often happens with photography it was just blind luck.

  7. Toonsarah says:

    Wow, I’ve loved my visit to San Francisco with you and it’s cemented my belief that we should come back some day (we were there in 1991). The street art, the architecture both modern (love your first Transamerica shot!) and older, the food (ditto your chillies shot 🙂 ). I also enjoyed the views on the way there – your two shots of the container port are so creative and demonstrate that there’s beauty everywhere if you take the trouble to look 😀

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you so much for visiting and for the kind words. Perhaps you should consider a return visit. It’s changed. Some would say for the better, others not so much.

  8. nesfelicio says:

    Amazing vistas of Hercules and San Francisco. You’ve captured the essence of the place — thanks for sharing.

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you so much for visiting and for the kind words.

  9. JohnRH says:

    Wowww. Great, great, great photos. Really well done.

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you John. Much appreciated.

  10. Dawn says:

    Great photos! I love SF too (well, to visit, not live). Your photo of the fog in the hills and the sunset at the end look very peaceful.

    1. Paul says:

      Hello Dawn, Thank you for the kind words. Clearly I still visit but if I had the means I would move back. I’m sorry that my wife and I made the decision to move out back in 1983. Now I would have to liquidate all assets just to be able to buy a little hovel.
      Thank you for visiting and for your kind words.

  11. Tina Schell says:

    Well Paul, I don’t think I’ve visited your blog before and I’m looking forward to seeing lots more of your work. Have been to SF many many times and it’s a beautiful city but you’ve more than done it justice. All of your images take a unique perspective versus the typical tourist’s take – I loved them all. You’ve really shown the city at its very best – great post!

    1. Paul says:

      Hello Tina.
      Thank you for visiting. I’ve visited your own site a number of times and enjoy your work, so I consider your kind words to be high praise. I hope you get a chance to poke around some of my other photography pieces.

  12. eden baylee says:

    Hi Paul,
    To say I love your pix would be an understatement.
    Definitely want to visit SF one day. 😀

    1. Paul says:

      You’ll have your own tour guide

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