Photographing the Legendary Steep Hills of San Francisco

San Francisco is any photographer's playground whether one is looking for the majestic Golden Gate bridge by the bay, the vibrant and colorful ethnic enclaves, or the legendary steep hills that the city is known for. It is not a lie when the hills are said to be steep. In fact, many of them are so steep it is somewhat amazing to see how this entire city managed to be built on it. For those not used to walking the steep hills, it is hard work but the view is entirely worth it.

Here are some of my favorite hills for photography in capturing the essence of San Francisco.

1. Intersection of Powell Street and California Street

This is where the Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde cable car lines intersect and cable cars can be seen either going down or coming up the steep slope on Powell. Since it is a busy intersection, one does not need to wait long at the intersection to capture the classic shot.

2. Filbert Street between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets

Known as one of the steepest streets in the western hemisphere, buses and trucks are not recommended on this block along Filbert St. Due to the steep level, Filbert St has its own set of stairs along the sidewalk.

3. Lombard Street between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets

 As the most crooked street in the world, this street naturally draws many tourists and photographers clamoring for shots. With some patience, this crooked street nestled along very well manicured side gardens are worth the shots. Shooting from below and above Lombard Street give a wonderful and different perspective of the views.

3. Coit Tower

Located at Telegraph Hill, getting to Coit Tower involves walking up (more) hills and stairs before actually getting to Coit Tower. Nearby is Filbert Steps, one of the most famous stairs in San Francisco, which also leads to Coit Tower. The steps are surrounded by leafy and beautiful gardens from the residential area and the steps offer a view of the bay and skyline. Once at Coit Tower, the 360° view of San Francisco is perfect for photography or for anyone just wanting to absorb the essence of the city. Views include the Bay bridge, downtown skyline, Golden Gate bridge, and homes.

4. Intersection of Hyde Street and Chestnut Street

This is another perfect location for getting the classic shot of the cable car climbing up the slope with Alcatraz Island and the bay in the background. This is also a popular spot among serious photographers as I saw several other people waiting around at this intersection with their (serious) cameras for the cable car to pass this intersection.

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