Eight Perspectives on San Francisco

Local photographers share their visions of the world's most beautiful city.

Ron Koeberer
"Despite being a tourist destination, Chinatown has managed to maintain its traditional character in the face of change. Most of us imagine it as bustling, crowded, and crazy. So I wanted to catch it at a different moment, early in the morning, when the light is soft and the streets are empty—a kind of island of sanity amid the madness. I took this shot at 6:30 a.m., on Grant Avenue near Bush Street. To me, the image captures Chinatown at its most magical, with those mystical red lanterns repeating themselves into the distance until they begin to fade away." A gate marks the main entrance to Chinatown at Grant Ave. and Bush St., a short walk from the cable car turnaround at Powell and Market Sts.
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Brown Cannon III
"This shot was taken at breakfast at the Grove Fillmore in Lower Pacific Heights. From the outside, there was nothing particularly notable about the restaurant. But when I opened the door, a surprising scene emerged. The woman clutching her dog gives you a sense of San Francisco's quirkiness. And the light and movement in the background are an indication of the kind of energy you might discover behind any door." The Grove Fillmore, 2016 Fillmore St., 415/474-1419, macaroni and cheese, made with fontina, cheddar, Monterey Jack, and blue cheese, $10.
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"It may sound strange to say this, but when you're surrounded by the action of downtown San Francisco, it's easy to forget that there's an ocean only a few miles away. What I like about this shot is that it describes just one of the many ways San Franciscans enjoy the beach. On any given day, you'll see bikers, walkers, surfers, hang gliders. And people will often just stop, like this couple, to appreciate the sunset in stillness and quiet." Ocean Beach stretches for more than a mile along San Francisco's western edge. For more information, visit 511.org or nps.gov/goga/planyourvisit/ocean-beach-accessibility.htm.
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Aya Brackett
"People often describe San Francisco as a European city. It's old-world without being stodgy. This shot was taken in North Beach, a historically Italian neighborhood, outside Caffe Trieste, which is a landmark in itself. It's where Francis Ford Coppola wrote the screenplay for The Godfather, and where beatniks like Jack Kerouac and Lawrence Ferlinghetti hung out. What draws me to the image is the way it reflects the city's traditions. The sky is blue, and the guy in the photo is taking a break, enjoying the good life, pausing to appreciate time passing by." Caffe Trieste, 601 Vallejo St., 415/392-6739, caffetrieste.com. In North Beach, street parking is tricky and garages are expensive. An affordable alternative is North Beach Parking Garage, 735 Vallejo St., $3 an hour.
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Hal Bergman
"There's a drama to the geography of San Francisco that you don't find in other cities, and this really graceful way in which the buildings match the contours of the land. From every hill, you see things in a different light. I took this picture at sunset from the fire escape of a Chinatown hotel, looking toward Coit Tower. I like the scope of the shot and what it takes in, with the light playing off the Marin Headlands in the background, and the brightly colored buildings that are so much a part of the city's character." Coit Tower, 415/362-0808, open daily 10 a.m.6:30 p.m., adults $5, kids 511 $1.50.
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Interviews by Josh Sens

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