Our cities are, by nature, ever-changing entities in their own right.

From skylines that morph into different silhouetted shapes each year, to businesses and people that come and go as their needs and successes change – these moments in time that I capture in my cityscape images are never the same from one day to the next, and the ones I’ve taken of San Francisco are no exception.

Mid Size San Francisco MOMA SalesForce Tower W Hotel Moscone Downtown Blue Hour Paul Reiffer Professional City Photographer Cityscape Travel High Resolution Destination California

From high above the rooftops, blue hour brings a certain electricity to the city below – the streets come alive, the skyscrapers light up with their signature decorations and we become dazzled by the energy that sits before our eyes.

Close Up San Francisco MOMA SalesForce Tower W Hotel Moscone Downtown Blue Hour Paul Reiffer Professional City Photographer Cityscape Travel High Resolution Destination California

That’s not to say that the city view across San Francisco is any less special at other times of day – the golden glow of morning sunlight as it rises over the bay, reflecting off the steel and glass buildings of the Financial District and Market area to the east can be really quite special too. That evening warmth, though, that occurs as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean is where the magic tends to happen as the city below bathes in its final rays of light.

San Francisco Skyline Rooftop Sunset Downtown View Above City Panoramic Golden Gate Union Square California Paul Reiffer Professional Landscape Cityscape Photographer

Of course, it’s not always a gloriously sunny day by the bay – indeed, as Mark Twain once commented, “The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco.”

BTS San Francisco Cityscapes Paul Reiffer Golden Gate Bridge Salesforce Tower Dusk Sunset Rooftop Phase One Behind Scenes

In a city so well known for fog (and hence my previous image – “fog city”!), you come to expect a bit of bad weather, photographically, every now and then – but there’s one amazing landmark in this city that always looks good, regardless of what mother nature throws at it.

Golden Gate Stormy Sky Bridge Long Exposure Clouds Winter San Francisco California Bay Paul Reiffer Phase One Ambassador High Resolution Wide

Even as a rain-storm approaches, the giant silhouette of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge looks no less impressive than on another “perfect” day in the sky above.

Reaching almost 2 miles, with nearly a mile of that being the central span itself, this giant 6-lane suspension bridge has remained an instantly-recognisable landmark around the world since its completion in 1937.

Golden Gate Marin Headlands Night City Panoramic San Francisco Lights Trails Paul Reiffer Phase One Long Exposure Bridge

When viewed from the Marin Headlands to the north of the San Francisco itself, the sheer scale of the construction challenge becomes obvious – linking the north to the south by road while allowing one of the busiest shipping channels in North America to continue to operate uninterrupted, day and night.

While the Golden Gate Bridge is obviously the star of the show, I have to admit to finding myself equally impressed with its sibling to the east : The San Francisco to Oakland Bay Bridge. Indeed, I was selling Bay Bridge prints well before I finally got my chance to shoot “Fog City” several years later!

BTS San Francisco Bay Bridge Skyline Photography Treasure Island Yerba Buena Paul Reiffer Phase One Medium Format XF Photography Night Cityscape Professional

Viewed from Yerba Buena Island, which in turn is connected to the fantastically named “Treasure Island” sat half way between San Francisco and Oakland, the Bay Bridge rose to infamy in 1989 when a 50ft section of the upper deck collapsed into the lower during the Loma Prieta earthquake.

Since then, the double-decker bridge has been strengthened, had its eastern span replaced with a mind-blowing “self-anchored suspension bridge”/SAS, and is now illuminated with a signature light show each evening. More importantly though, from my perspective, it still offers that one amazing view of the approach to this stunning city by the bay:

Bay Bridge Yerba Buena Treasure Island Night Dusk Blue Hour City Cityscape Lights Paul Reiffer Phase One High Resolution Travel Commercial Photography San Francisco SF

With or without a camera, just sitting here watching the city come to life in the distance as the lines of traffic flow to and from the east, is enough to make me smile in contentment for hours on end.

No, I’m not a fan of the new “SalesForce Tower” which has (in my opinion) obliterated the classic San Francisco city skyline I knew and loved before. But I guess that’s the price of progress – and it’s not going anywhere, anytime soon, so it seems like it’s time we all embraced the new addition as a neighbour!

Close Up Bay Bridge Tower Light Trails Sales Force Salesforce Soma City Market Approach King Street Embarcadero Paul Reiffer Travel City Photographer Professional Commercial San Francisco SF

So what about heading back to the Golden Gate Bridge for when the clouds and fog come in? I mean, it’s not always going to be perfect photography weather on one of the most exposed coastlines facing the Pacific Ocean.

BTS Golden Gate Bridge Phase One Medium Format IQ4 IQ3 XF Paul Reiffer Commercial Travel Cityscape Photographer

While the fog can make the bridge look spectacular, it can also leave you stood well inside a cloud up there on the headlands if it stays a little too long. In that case, heading north to get under the moisture in the air and capturing the glow of the huge span from below is one answer:

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge Moore Road Needles North Paul Reiffer Dawn Blue Hour Lights Long Exposure Photography High Resolution Phase One Camera Landscape Travel

You might have to dodge a few seagulls that come out to play with the fishermen in the morning – but you’re also quite likely to see a few sea-lions floating around at that time too. Oh, and there’s that stunning backdrop in the distance to enjoy too!

Back up the hill, onto Battery Spencer when the weather is a little better, and you’ll find the cool blue glow of dusk really boosts the vibrancy of the bridge itself as it’s lit up from below.

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge Night City Cityscape Light Trails Paul Reiffer Commercial Destination Photographer Phase One High Resolution Medium Format

As a true 24×7 city, you’ll never be short of car trails running across the bridge, but it’s the perfect positioning of the viewpoint looking through the north tower to the city beyond that captivates me, each and every time…

Golden Gate Bridge Through The Cables Bridge San Francisco California Night Lights City Cityscape Close High Res Paul Reiffer Phase One Photography

…it’s almost as if it was planned that way!

Close Up Golden Gate Bridge Night Dusk City Skyline San Francisco SalesForce Tower Sales Force Skyscraper Paul Reiffer Photograph Medium Format High Resolution

So there we have it – many years on since I first started capturing the Bay Area’s bridges and the cityscape of which they form part – to me, the view is no less impressive than the very first time I saw it with my own eyes.

San Francisco Skyline Night Blue Hour Lights City Cityscape Downtown Trails Long Exposure Travel Destination Landscape Photographer Paul Reiffer Phase One High Resolution