Up and down, up and down


Up until the late 19th Century the Islais Creek basin on San Francisco’s southern coast was an impressive tidal marsh. Then the exuberant application of explosives, steam, and later diesel power filled the marsh to create district of industrial works.

Pier 94 Project - panorama

A panorama of the Pier 94 site (stitched from 7 portrait format images).

In the current day there is little to recognize of the former wetlands. The Islais Creek channel is still there in a formal, channelized way. Here and there you can find small patches of long neglected shoreline where nature has managed to soften the industrial vocabulary of the landscape. One example is Heron’s Head Park, which we documented earlier in the Hidden Ecologies project. On Saturday I visited another bit of the shore right at the outlet of Islais Creek. This is a site called Pier 94 where the Golden Gate Audubon Society is managing a small plot of land to provide habitat for wildlife and waterfront access for humans.

My colleague Wayne Lanier asked if I could take KAP images of the site showing the placement several benchmarks. It turned out to be a difficult session. The marine layer dealt us an overcast that was pretty thick at times. Meanwhile winds were wandering from near calm to over 15 mph with azimuth shifts of 90 degrees or so. I tried a couple of kites before settling on the 7.5-foot Rokkaku and flew this for an hour before getting enough lift for the camera. The KAP rig then went up only to come back down a half dozen times due to lulls in the wind. Some of the retrievals bordered on urgent.

Camera flight path pier 94 session #1

A Google Earth plot of the cameras flight path. I can see evidence of several camera retrievals on the left side of the plot.

The afternoon produced images covering most of the site. But it was one of those sessions where the bulk of my attention was on the kite flying and tending to camera survival. In the end the images were not very good. My 10-22mm lens somehow got set wide open (f4.0), a condition where the corners are way too soft and, worse yet, the camera was switched to matrix metering which seems to cause focusing issues when the camera is aloft. Add a bit of motion blur and inattention to controlling the camera as I struggled with the kite and the session image quality was the worst in a couple of years. So, I am chalking this trip up as a scouting session and look forward to a follow up shoot under more friendly conditions.

Ilana DeBare posted a nice description of the session on the Golden Gate Audubon Society WWW site.

Here is a set of images from the session that I have posted to Flickr:



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