Photographing SanFrancisco DFG Brochure
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Learn some facts about the bridge that can influence your photographic choices
See why you should include an ultra-wide zoom, a standard zoom, and a super-telephoto among your lenses
Create masterful lighting effects with night shots at slow shutter speeds
Discover how the view from Marin Headlands differs from that at Fort Point
Capture the Golden Gate like never before
Bring home ALL the magic of San Francisco!Capturepostcard-qualityshotsof27otherscenicandhistoricsitesintheCitybytheBay!ThecompletePhotographing San Francisco Digital Field Guideisavailablein-storeoronlinewhereverbooksaresold.ISBN:978-0-470-58684-6320pages,withmapsandfull-colorillustrations$19.99US
Brian McLernon Brian McLernon Brian McLernon Brian McLernon Brian McLernon Brian McLernon Brian McLernon Brian McLernon Brian McLernon Bruce Sawle
PhotographingSan FranciscoSan Francisco
Capture Postcard-Quality Photos
An excerpt from
A view of the Golden Gate Bridge taken just after sunrise from the Marin Headlands on a clear spring morning. Taken at ISO 100, f/8, 1 second with a 17-35mm lens.
11 Golden Gate Bridge
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Why Its Worth a PhotographThe Golden Gate Bridge, a symbol of San Francisco, spans two of the most beauti-ful areas in the world: the city of San Francisco and the Sausalito-Marin Headlands. Built in 1937, the bridge is considered one of the most remarkable structures in the world, and the surrounding areas offer many vantage points to photograph. The Golden Gate Bridges 4,200-foot long span set a world record, which stood for about 27 years. The bridges two towers rise 746 feet above the water making them 191 feet taller than the Washington Monument. The Golden Gate Bridge has an Art Deco style with wide, vertical ribbing on the horizontal towers that help catch the suns light at both sunrise and sunset. This feature alone makes it worth a photograph.
The Marin Headlands also offers you breathtakingly beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge together with one of the most beautiful cities. To top it off, you have the San Francisco Bay and the Paci c Ocean crashing together 200 feet below. Taking a photo at daybreak gives you a wonderfully colorful sidelit scene of the bridge and San Francisco. A photo taken at sunset can offer you a beautiful, golden silhouette of the bridge, the water, and surrounding cliffs. And a photograph at night offers up a vibrant, dusky blue sky with the bridge and city all lit up and won-derful re ections on the water below.
Where Can I Get the Best Shot?You can photograph the Golden Gate Bridge from many places around San Francisco. I have photographed the bridge every which way, from the early morn-ing to late at night. I have photographed the bridge when the sky was a crystal clear, vibrant morning blue, only to see it turn into a cold, dense, wet fog one hour later. In over 15 years of exploring and seeking out new locations, Marin Headlands, Baker Beach, Crissy Field, Fort Point, North Vista Point, the Visitor Center, and Conzelman Road Headlands (see AG on the map) seem to offer the best light and best perspective to capture a photo that is truly worth hanging on a wall.
Marin HeadlandsThe Marin Headlands is arguably the most popular location to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge. Located just north of San Francisco on Conzelman Road, its just a short drive, hike, bike ride, or bus trip over the Golden Gate Bridge. The Marin Headlands is best known for its gentle rolling hills, high cliffs, and military history. After you have crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, follow Conzelman Road up the hill a few hundred yards until you see military bunkers on the left; these bunkers are called Battery Spencer. Wear comfortable shoes and bring a camera backpack or shoulder bag to carry your gear. You have a 5- to 10- minute walk, depending on
wind and weather, up a path to the main gun battery installation where there are numerous places to set up and photograph the bridge from. In my experience, the perfect angle to shoot the angle that gives you the best vantage point of the bridge and city is directly between the far-left fence and the far-right cliff. From here, you are looking directly back at the bridge from approximately a 25- to 30-degree angle. Make sure that you bring a sturdy tripod because the wind can blow upwards of 30 mph. A wide-angle lens between 14-24mm is a must if you want to be able to shoot the entire length of the bridge with the city as its backdrop.
From this location, you have the opportunity to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge at any time of day, up close and personal, with the city of San Francisco as a back-drop and the Paci c Ocean directly below (see gure 11.1). My favorite times to photograph the bridge from this vantage point are 20 minutes before the sun comes up and 20 minutes after the sun goes down. What makes these two times so ideal is the dark blue, magenta, and orange sky interlaced with the effect your shutter speed has on the traf c coming across the bridge. When your shutter speed gets below 5 seconds, you can expect to see numerous red and white streams of light from the headlights and taillights of cars caused by the slow shutter speed.
The best locations from which to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge: (A) Marin Headlands, (B) Baker Beach, (C) Crissy Field, (D) Fort Point, (E) North Vista Point, (F) Visitor Center, (G) Conzelman Road Headlands. Other photo ops: (21) Presidio of San Francisco, (22) Rodeo Beach/Marin Headlands.
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Baker BeachBaker Beach offers a wonderful vantage point to photograph the bridge. The ideal time of day to shoot from this location is 20 minutes before and 20 minutes after sunset (see gure 11.2). The sun at your back offers a warm, vibrant light that accentuates the orange color of the bridge. Baker Beach, on the ocean side of the Golden Gate Bridge, is a west-facing beach that is one mile long and lies at the foot of the high cliffs on the western shoreline of the Presidio. The view from the beach with the cliffs of the Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate Bridge is spec-tacular. The beach is primarily visited by locals who want to enjoy a peaceful after-noon. This spot is very popular with San Franciscans of all kinds, and because its on federal land where nudity is allowed, youll almost always nd a few unclothed folks up by the rocks. So when setting up your gear, be wary of this possibility.
Crissy FieldCrissy Field offers a number of prime locations from which you can photograph the Golden Gate Bridge. The most popular spot is along the beach that leads up to the bridge. Crissy Field is linked to the early history of aviation in the United States and was the militarys rst Air Coast Defense Station on the Paci c coast. Crissy Field
11.1 A view of the Golden Gate Bridge taken just before sunrise from the Marin Headlands (see A on the map) on a clear fall morning. Taken at ISO 100, f/22, 30 sec-onds with a 24mm lens.
is the area along the northern shoreline of the Presidio of San Francisco. It is south-east of the Golden Gate Bridge between the Palace of Fine Arts and the bridge. I recommend parking in the West Bluff Picnic Area parking lot at the end of Mason Street. The best time to shoot from this vantage point is just before sunrise when the sun is at your back, the bridge glows from the low, warm light striking the bright orange structure, and the early morning sky is dusky blue (shown in gure 11.3). Another wonderful but less popular time is as the sun is setting directly behind the bridge. The bridge is immersed in a low, bright orange light that creates a wonderful silhouette of the Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Point, and the Marin Headlands. I tend to favor shooting from this location as the sun is setting, because it offers a dramatic photographic moment. When shooting a silhouette of the Golden Gate Bridge, I set my camera aperture while metering in Manual exposure mode. I point the camera just to the left or right of the sun, being careful not to include the sun as part of my exposure. I then adjust my shutter speed until my camera indicates the correct exposure. In this case, it was 1/1600 second at f/13 (see gure 11.4)
For more information on Rodeo Beach/Marin Headlands, see Chapter 22.
11.2 A view of the Golden Gate Bridge taken just after sunset from Baker Beach (see B on the map) on a clear spring night. Taken at ISO 100, f/11, 30 seconds, +0.3 expo-sure compensation with a 70-200mm lens.
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11.3 A view of the Golden Gate Bridge taken just before sunrise from Crissy Field (see C on the map) on a clear fall morning. Taken at ISO 200, f/11, 30 seconds with a 17-35mm lens.
11.4 A view of the Golden Gate Bridge taken just before sunset from Crissy Field on a clear summer night. Taken at ISO