Alcatraz Island, California

August 10, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Our first stop on the Epic Honeymoon RoadTrip was an up close look at the legendary penitentiary off the coast of San Francisco. Rising at dawn, we planned to beat the crowds by taking the Early Bird tour. With a brisk 55 degree morning and chilling winds in our face, we made the short ferry trip from Pier 33 to Alcatraz Island with piqued interest in its fascinating lore. 

The gloominess of the day only accentuated Alcatraz's reputation as we approached. Since we took the Early Bird tour, we were able to experience one of San Francisco's most iconic landmarks just ahead of the hoards of tourists that inevitably followed. 

Much of my Alcatraz experience was hastened by my amazement at the history of the place. Visions of Clint Eastwood and Sean Connory danced in my head as I walked the historic Michigan Avenue and gazed out across the channel thinking to myself...could I escape? 

As for photographing Alcatraz....

Much of the tour was in very low light conditions and with the large crowds that herded inside the walls, a tripod was most definitely inappropriate. A flash - or preferably fast glass - would no doubt be appreciated. A multitude of abstract and interesting angles could fill your time for hours. Alcatraz also has a great abundance of beautiful flowers and a large seabird colony. Nursing jet lag from the previous day's travels, I no doubt left some opportunities out there but nonetheless was still stoked with my experience on The Rock.

My Recommendations: 

  • GO EARLY! Try the Early Bird tours to get there before the crowd!
  • Have fast glass or a flash - most of the "cool stuff" was in low light conditions
  • Bring your lens bag - from micro to wide angle to zoom, Alcatraz sparks the photographer's eye!
  • Take some time to experience Alcatraz outside of the walls. Plenty of cool (albeit weathered) architecture, flowers, and a seabird colony to keep a photographer occupied for hours.
  • Take the guided headphone tour - if nothing else just to experience Alcatraz via first hand accounts and the amazing history.  
  • Be prepared for large crowds. As one of San Francisco's most popular attractions, having people in your photos is inevitable.
  • For more information: http://www.nps.gov/alca/index.htm  

 

Spread Aloha!


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