Transbay Transit Center Construction – Moving Dirt – San Francisco

Moving Dirt an HDR photograph - Transbay Transit Center Construction - San Francisco - by Captain Photo

Moving Dirt – Transbay Transit Center Construction – San Francisco

Out With San Francisco’s Old Bus Terminal

In downtown San Francisco, right around 1st St, the old bus terminal is gone. All the new construction next to where it used to be is the Transbay Transit Terminal going in. Oh, they call it a Center, not a Terminal. I get stuck in my old ways when you go to a station or terminal to catch a bus. Now you go to a “center.” A center is more… what, inclusive of all that happens there? BART & Muni trains, trolly cars, busses, and taxis. If they build a heliport on top and dig a canal to the bay, wouldn’t our commuting choices be fun?


One of the construction workers stopped to talk to me a little while I was photographing.  He was explaining how those big pipes in the photo laying horizontal and stretching from side to side down in the hole they are digging, will be removed.  They are only there now to keep the walls of the hole from collapsing.  He was really nice and his job seemed to be to keep me behind the white line so not to get in the way of the hard hat guys and the overgrown sandbox toys.


There will eventually be new tracks running in that hole down there for Muni and Bart and the building above ground will be very beautiful.  So many of the buildings in San Francisco are works of art to admire and this one also looks to be stunning from the artist’s rendition displayed on site.  When this is finished on about 4 years, I’ll definitely be going back to shoot it.

My Tripod Saved the Shot

Oh, I have to tell you how I shot this.  Well, all around this big hole is a high chain link fence, probably 8-10 feet high.  I couldn’t see anything through it because there is also plywood blocking out the view.  It used to be that construction sites provided portholes in the plywood and other ways for the curious public to watch what’s going on.  Not here.

This is where I put my tripod to a new use.  I set the 10 second timer and raised the camera up above the top of the fence by holding the bottom of the tripod legs.  I know it looked funny to people around me but it got the job done.  Aiming the camera was done by trial and error. Doing HDR this way is a bit of a undertaking too.  There is a LOT more movement in the camera way up there while the camera automatically fired off three bracketed shots so the auto align feature of Photomatix was really put to the test.  It works perfectly!

This was processed using my Perfect HDR Workflow in less than 10 minutes.  It’s so easy that even photographers who have never made an HDR image can create technically perfect HDR the first time.

Showing 5 comments
  • Reply

    I just can’t get over how you did this, Keith, not to mention how AWESOME it turned out!! What a great shot, so many intricate details to take in and enjoy! Top drawer.

    • Captain Photo

      Toadie I love your enthusiasm! Yes, with my camera balancing precariously above me on my tripod, shooting conditions were not ideal, especially for HDR. It did take a few tries to get the camera pointed right and then to catch the action of that shovel dumping dirt into the truck. Cheers buddy!

  • Eric

    Great shot! I’ve always loved the look of the San Francisco skyline.

  • vito andolini

    What a great shot. I have used this image as my desktop wallpaper. Thanks and cheers to your photography skills.

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