Calling all Bay photographers


A message from Save The Bay’s Staff Photographer:

As a photographer and manager of Save The Bay’s social media pages, one of the best parts of my job is to share your photos of San Francisco Bay on our Instagram feed. I personally think your Bay photos have the power to inspire and frame a vision for a cleaner, healthier Bay. That’s why I’m inviting you to enter our 2017 Save The Bay Calendar Photo Contest!

Whether you’re an avid photographer with a professional set up or a master phone photographer, I’m sure you have some great shots. And I’d love to see what you’ve captured!

Before you snap and submit your San Francisco Bay photo, here are a few things to keep in mind:

The subject matter:
Your submissions may include landscapes, wildlife, or recreation on the Bay; they can focus on open water, shoreline, or tidal marsh—from San Jose to Sonoma and anywhere in between. All we ask is that your photo connects with Save The Bay’s mission to protect, restore, and celebrate San Francisco Bay.

What’s in it for you:
The fame and glory of potentially having your photo published! And knowing that you contributed your photo to helping protect and restore our Bay. Along with copies of the calendar, featured photographers will receive a Save The Bay t-shirt, tote bag, a prize of $50, and cool gear from our friends at REI!

The technical aspects:
All photos should be landscape orientation and should be 3300 x 2500 pixels or larger. Please see terms and conditions outlined on our webpage. All photos must be submitted by April 15, 2016 for consideration.

How do we choose the winners?:
After the April 15, 2016 submission deadline, Save The Bay staff will select the top twelve photos that will be featured in the 2017 calendar. But, we still need your help in deciding which photo will grace the cover!

Phase two of our contest will take place on our Facebook page. Each day we will post one of the twelve photos on social media. Your Facebook likes, wows, and loves will all be counted as YES votes. The photo with the most combined votes wins. We will announce the cover photo winner May 1, 2016.

Mike Oria Photography

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Bay Area photographer Mike Oria  captures beautiful images of the San Francisco Bay. His photograph, “Sunrise from Sausalito” won the People’s Choice Award for our Calendar Photo Contest and will be the cover art for our 2016 Save The Bay Calendar.

How long have you lived in the Bay Area and when did you get started photographing the Bay ?

My wife and I have been in the Bay since ‘94. We moved from Texas to California and we lived around the Bay a bit—South Bay, Peninsula, and now we’re out in Brentwood. I’ve been doing photography for seven years. I would say the last two or three years have been pretty intensive for me as far as just really diving in 100% and learning as much as I can to hone my skills.

What inspires you and why are you so drawn to the San Francisco Bay? 

First of all it is such a large area, teeming with people, activities, wildlife, and amazing visual stimuli. The mountains, the grasslands, the water—just everything about the Bay to me is like a picture. It is a work of art and so I guess I am inspired by that to try to capture a piece of that into a photograph.

I know a photo can never come close to being able to portray exactly what I am seeing when I am standing there enjoying a great view, but at the same time it evokes a memory of a moment in time for me. It is a way to freeze that moment and later when I look back at the photo that I’ve taken, I go right back to that memory. I remember the smell of the salt air, I remember the seal barking, or the way the flowers were blowing in the wind—you know, things like that. So it is something that is very organic, very stimulating, and of course the challenge as a photographer is how to do that justice and put it into a picture?

Walk me through a day of shooting out on the Bay. What is your approach and how do you capture such amazing images?

Well I found that I very much prefer shooting sunrises and after dark so when the conditions are right for a colorful sky and some beautiful clouds, I find that the ideal time to capture it is twilight—morning or evening twilight. I typically plan my days of shooting around this and what the conditions will be and I do a lot of research before I even go outside. I get on the computer and I know where the sun is rising or setting, I know where the moon is, what time it will rise or set, when twilight is, I know the predicted tides and if there is a low tide, which I favor.

I like to shoot at low tide because more of the underwater coastal treasures are revealed, instead of being covered up by water. I also check wind because a lot of my images are anywhere from ten seconds to two minutes in length and so I am opening my shutter for a long time. If you’re dealing with 35 mile per hour winds up in the Marin headlands your pictures could get blurry.

I also research when the fog is coming in before I get out there and then I try to study the satellite images, such as Google Earth to find a place I’ve never been before and get there in time to try and find a nice foreground subject. Then I’ll just set up and watch what happens. Just wait for the light to change. If I get there before dawn, l’ll sit in darkness and hope that there is something good to look at based on the research I’ve done. That is often frustrating but occasionally I may get lucky. I wait for the first bit of light and color to start and I’ll start shooting. Since there is so much pre­planning involved and the “good light” is often very brief, I may return from an outing with only one, sometimes two keepers, but that keeps me going back out for more, I suppose.

Do you have a favorite site along the Bay?

I don’t get a lot of pictures of this because it’s hard to access, but right at the mouth of the Golden Gate looking through to the Bay from Point Bonita where the Bonita Lighthouse is—that spot and the whole area around there (Bonita Cove) looking into San Francisco is a beautiful location and probably one of my favorites. There’s the cliché of the gateway or mouth of the Bay opening to reveal all the beautiful treasures, and of course it is where all the people live. The massive complex of Bay Area cities are a figurative sea of humanity. Being out there on the Marin coast, just outside the Bay, you have so much of just pure nature: cliffs and rocks and birds and other wildlife. It is largely untouched by humans. I like that—being outside it, in unspoiled nature, looking back toward the city.

Do you have any upcoming projects that our readers might be interested in learning about?

I do a lot of night photography and I teach workshops to all levels of photographers from beginners to professionals. I have a workshop series called “Night Eyes Photo Workshops” that I teach with one other instructor and currently we take a group of students out once a month on a Saturday night and we will spend several hours in San Francisco and Marin. We also have a coastal class where we go along the coast from Half Moon Bay down to Santa Cruz. I also shoot commercial work for local businesses and wineries.

Mike Oria creates artistic captures of California’s most compelling locations. His photography has appeared in international publications, calendars, album covers and websites. Prints may be purchased at:

Framing a vision for a better Bay

Bay Bridge
The summer fog rolls in from the west and over the City by the Bay.

Picture this: You wake up before sunrise and head out the door with your camera in one hand and a half eaten breakfast burrito (with avocado, of course) in the other. You’re heading for an unexplored destination that you’ve googled the night before.  As the dark blue and black hues of night give way to a morning sky, your adrenaline rushes you toward your destination. Upon arrival you grab your belongings, find the perfect spot to set up your shot, and wait. You wait for the “golden hour” when the rising sun gently illuminates the landscape and paints the world in those vivid, breathtaking colors only nature can produce.

Landscape photographers, does this “hurry up and wait” drill sound familiar to you?

This begs the question, why do photographers do this? Is the opportunity to capture a beautiful photograph really worth waking up early, traveling long distances, and enduring the cold, rain, snow, or wind?

By no means do I consider myself a professional photographer, but I’ve learned over time that the best photographers have mastered the virtue of patience. In other words, it’s worth waiting for the right shot regardless of the elements.

On the first day of my high school Black and White Photography course, my teacher showed the class an iconic photograph of Yosemite National Park’s Half Dome and the Merced River taken by outdoor landscape photography guru Ansel Adams. After a quick critique of the photograph, she then asked us to describe how it would feel to be Adams the moment he took the picture. 

I initially thought about how cold it must have been, yet peacefully quiet. The river was still. The reflections, perfect. The warm winter sun peering through the snow-covered trees must have been a welcoming sensation. Ultimately, to me, this setting looked like heaven on earth — a place worth protecting and preserving for future generations to enjoy. Of course this image is now synonymous with Yosemite National Park, but here in the Bay Area we have our share of iconic images as well.

Even in the midst of today’s highly urbanized setting, it is still possible to take a picture of a raw, wild San Francisco Bay. However, this may not be the case in the near future with looming climate change impacts and more immediate threats including stormwater pollution and reckless shoreline development. The truth is, the beauty of our Bay is in jeopardy each day.

I always feel a deeper connection and appreciation for our home region when shooting photographs outside or scrolling through a series of beautiful bay images online. And I know that your photographs can elicit that reaction too.

The still images — documented moments frozen in time — we all capture help preserve memories and tell inspirational stories. Like Yosemite, the Bay is another slice of heaven on earth that needs to be protected and preserved for generations to enjoy. Allow your photographs to live on in Save The Bay’s website, social media platforms, and future campaigns.

Who knows, your work may inspire someone else to think about what you felt, smelled, heard, and saw the moment you snapped your photograph. And this may be just the motivation they need to take on the environmental issues we face.

Even if its just for a moment. That’s all it takes.

Hit us with your best shot!


Save The Bay is launching our first ever Bay photo contest. And we need your submission!

As a benefit of membership, Save The Bay publishes a full-color, full-sized wall calendar featuring famous San Francisco Bay vistas and its flora and fauna.  The photos in our calendar remind us why this region is so beloved both to locals and visitors—sweeping vistas filled with light and color, incredible bridges and the wonder of wildlife, both large and small.  And we would love to include your photo in the 2016 Save The Bay calendar.

The technical aspects:

All photos should be landscape orientation and should be 3300 x 2500 pixels or larger.  They can be uploaded via this page. Please see terms and conditions outlined on the webpage.

The subject matter:

We’ve included some greatest hits from calendars past above for some inspiration.  If you think you have a new and unique perspective that highlights our mission to protect and restore San Francisco Bay, please submit!

What’s in it for you:

The fame and glory of potentially having your photo published! And knowing that you contributed your photo to helping protect and restore our Bay.  Photos that end up in the calendar receive a Save The Bay t-shirt, tote bag and a cash prize of $50 as well as recognition in our Annual Report for your in-kind contribution.

The deadline:

May 1st, 2015

“A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words.” – Ansel Adams

I can’t wait to see your photographs!

Guest Post | Bay Nature’s Fun on the Bay Photo Contest

Here’s a great opportunity to get your photos out in the world. Read more in the guest post below by Dan Rademacher, Editorial Director of Bay Nature Magazine.

Get your images published in Bay Nature magazine, win $50, and help crowd-source the history of San Francisco Bay. All at once!

What’s your favorite place to have fun on San Francisco Bay? Is it Crissy Field? Crown Beach? China Camp? Candlestick Point? Coyote Point? So many choices!

BayContest-IanRansleyIn between political struggles to protect the Bay and hands-dirty workdays to restore it, most of us also like to just be out there. By boat, kayak, or kiteboard. On foot or by bike. With binoculars at dawn, or on a picnic blanket on a lazy afternoon. What’s your favorite way to have fun on San Francisco Bay?

I’m the editor of Bay Nature magazine and this summer, we’ve teamed up with on a photo contest, and we want your photos of people having fun on the Bay. We want your recent photos, your old photos, your fine photos, your quirky photos, scans of those old snapshots your oddball uncle left you in his will. We want ‘em all!

Why? Because we ALL make history, and we want to see a whole range of folks having fun out on San Francisco Bay — kayaking, fishing, swimming, sailing, stand-up paddling, playing with their dogs, kite-boarding, wind-surfing, motor boating, and, yes, maybe even sitting on the dock of the Bay, killing time.

These photos will become part of the Year of the Bay’s communally produced Bay history, and they’ll also be a key part of Bay Nature’s July-September 2013 issue, along with a chronicle of the recent history of major Bay wetlands restoration and otherworldly portraits of a few of the millions of tiny creatures that flow under the Golden Gate Bridge every day.

Tiny larval crabs riding the tides, shorebirds nesting in South Bay marshes, families picnicking on the beach—it’s all part of the story of San Francisco Bay, that great wilderness at the heart of our region.

We’ll choose up to eight images to publish in our July-September 2013 issue. Winners get $50 per image, plus of course photo credit and complimentary copies of the magazine.

Only two rules: (1) The photo must be of people in, on, or right next to SF Bay, and (2) they should be having fun!

So help us tell the Bay’s story by submitting your photos. Submissions are due by midnight on May 12, 2013.

— Dan Rademacher, Editorial Director, Bay Nature Magazine