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Friday Slide Show: Glen Canyon Park Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

28 August 2015

When the heat of the valley hits the cool air over the ocean, fog blankets the city. You can see it roll in like smoke blowing east until, sometimes, you can't see across the street. Talk about diffused lighting.

Glen Canyon Park. Looking south.

Escaping the unrelenting summer fog is one of those activities San Franciscans practice with a passion. Lake Tahoe, Berryessa, Palo Alto are time-honored escapes, depending on how much time you have.

But often it's enough to just get on the other side of the hill. Twin Peaks can hold back low-lying fog perfectly well, exposing the eastern side of the city to the hot sun.

That's how we made our escape last weekend. We took just a few steps up Portola to Glen Canyon Park, which is no ordinary park.


For one thing, it's a canyon. A very deep canyon through which Islais Creek flows. The west side of the canyon is lush with vegetation (even in the drought) while the east side is grassland.

Trail Map. Easy (white), Moderate (yellow) and Difficult (Orange) trails.

It gives you a feeling for what the area was like before it became a city. It has remained undisturbed by the development around it.

Except for some handy steps and manicured paths and a foot bridge or two to keep urban visitors from disturbing the coyotes, skunks, possums, hawks and owls that live there.

Much of the west side is simply inaccessible. Not just from the canyon floor but even from above, along O'Shaughnessy Blvd., where you can wander over to the edge to look down.


There are several ways into the park from the surrounding neighborhoods on the east side and also from Glen Park to the south. But if you enter from the playground at the southern end, you'll be walking uphill. We entered from the top to avoid that.

It's a short and easy stroll but downhill on paths of loose rock, so you'll want to wear hiking shoes. There are lots of dog walkers but the dogs seem completely uninterested in fellow hikers, dashing by you to explore the canyon itself.

It's hard to believe you can see this terrain in the middle of San Francisco, but the city is full of surprises.


We shot everything with a Nikon D300 and 18-200mm Nikkor with a polarizer on it. We stuck with Aperture Priority mode to control depth of field. Nothing was moving, so we weren't concerned about our shutter speed being too slow to stop subject movement.

We processed everything in Lightroom CC where we discovered we'd made a horrible mistake. All the images were overexposed by a stop.

It seems we had accidentally increased the EV by 1.0 one evening in the dark as we were trying to change shooting modes to Manual. Since we were shooting in Manual mode at the time, we hadn't noticed anything amiss. Only when we returned to Aperture Priority did the EV setting kick in. But it was so bright in the sunlight that we didn't notice on the LCD.

You might think that would ruin everything. It didn't help (except for our shadow detail) but we were shooting Raw, not JPEG. So we had some leeway.

In fact Lightroom recovered the highlights without banding and we were able to make our edits and salvage the job.

Not that we would have minded going back for a reshoot.

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