Golden Gate Bridge x2 and Alcatraz Silhouette

DAY 11 – Saturday 23rd


This morning was another early start to capture a sunrise from the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. The cloud was light but low with fog settling on the top of the two towers suspending the bridge above the bay. If the fog had settled at road level on the bridge we would have gone into the hills but it was too high and we made our way down to a small jetty. When we arrived, some local fishermen were waiting to pull in their nets and shortly after we setup our cameras on the jetty, a seal graced us with its presence in the water below. This must be a regular occurrence because the seal hung around for the whole of the shoot.

The light was not great for shooting and I opted for a longer exposure with a graduated filter to balance the dawn sky with the water below the bridge and a stopper to get a longer exposure for the water. The weather was not great with the fog dropping slightly further onto the two towers of the bridge. By the end of the shoot the fog began to lift and the sun rose, but the sky was largely grey and overcast throughout.

I was pleased to have opted to risk underexposing my first shot more than usual and to use the histogram to get some data that I could work with. The two minute edited image is pleasing with a nice halo effect over the towers from the obscured aircraft warning lights and the white lights towards the top of the towers.

With the shoot finished, it was back to the hotel and a few short hours of sleep. This getting up early and sleeping late is beginning to get tiring, but the photography is most enjoyable. Taking advantage of the clear roads, Paul took advantage of a more scenic route to the hotel. We took in the some of the large number of the military barracks and officers buildings around the coastline of the city and we also took a drive down the famous steep and twisty Lombard Street. How the horses pulled their carts up there, I will never know.

Lunch/Dinner was over-looking the harbour at Boudins Bakery over Fishermans Wharf. I chose the fish and chips – well you have to at the harbour and they were excellent.

We had scouted some areas during the day, including a light house, a view across the Bay Bridge that Paul was interested in and a couple of others. With the decisions made earlier in the day, we headed out to a view of the bay that stretches from Bay Bridge right across to Alcatraz.

1P7A0131As the sun began to sink into the sky, Alcatraz became a grey silhouette against the mountain backdrop and a glorious orange sky. This took our attention away from the city for a while and I ran off a few shots at different exposure settings to hedge my bets again.   Dodging the humongous container ships that leave and arrive at sunset, I captured a few shots across the bay and out over Alcatraz until the sun disappeared. These shots included using the grad, little and then big stopper, before removing all of the filters to turn to the city itself.

I’m not too sure about the city shot across the bay. The city was nicely lit but it appears very small and straight across the frame with the Bay Bridge. This is an image that will need all of the post processing skills that Paul taught us earlier in the trip to pull out a nice image.

We then headed up into the hills above Bay Bridge for the second of our two sites this evening. The aim was to capture an image straight down the bay bridge looking into the city. The bridge is a double decker and I wanted to capture some light trails of the car’s rear lights – all five lanes.

I struggled at first with blown out shots and dropped the exposure time considerably. Checking the histogram, I settled for an exposure setting which was optimal for the focusing but which was slow enough to give me some light trails but which also had decent spread across the histogram. The images will need a little help in post processing to cool them down and to get the most of them.

Bay City Roller - Bay Bridge, San Francisco, CA, USA - Copyright 2015 Martyn Phillips, M4Photo.

Bay City Roller – Bay Bridge, San Francisco, CA, USA – Copyright 2015 Martyn Phillips, M4Photo.

On the way back to the car, we noticed a different angle and this became my favourite view of the bridge. It just goes to show, that despite having a location scouted earlier in the day, you really need to keep looking around because there could be something better close by. This extended what was supposed to be a quick ten minute shoot into over an hour. Whilst the first location was busy with photographers our side of the fence and also on the other side in front of us, we had the second location all to ourselves.

Mark and I captured some nice images that frame the bridge with some trees. I opted for a short exposure to freeze the trees, but I actually refer the longer exposed image, despite the tree branch moving a little over the bridge. Paul managed to get a better position which will not have the trees in the frame and I am really looking forward to seeing his finished image sometime in the future. Using his wealth of skills and the Phase One, he should have a cracking shot. He was still shooting when I had finished and in hindsight I should have continued looking for better compositions and this is another lesson learned. However, it was good to watch Paul work for a few minutes before we all headed back to the car.


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