About a year ago, we visited San Francisco and a few locations around California. I have published a few images before, but I have finally edited all of them. I will be writing a series of articles in the coming weeks about locations like Mono Lake and Yosemite. But first, let’s talk about San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.
For any photographer, the Golden Gate Bridge is the elephant in the room when visiting San Francisco. It’s too big not to shoot it, but every little angle has already been shot under every light possible. It’s like the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City.
While I knew I would not get the shot of the century, I decided to shoot the bridge for myself. It was my first time in San Francisco, and I managed to hit several locations with a nice view of the bridge. Let’s see which ones are the most interesting, starting on the North Side.
Battery Spencer is maybe the most visited location because it’s close to the bridge, and it offers a great angle with the city behind. It’s best at sunset, with the sun behind you, and at blue hour. This shot below was actually very early morning, before sunrise. We moved to another location for sunrise.
You can even be creative with the bridge and the city (though I bet many photographers have done it better):
If you drive further on Conzelman Road, you’ll reach a second, higher point of view at Hawk Hill. The angle on the bridge itself is a little less interesting, but you can really see its length. And the city is nicely lined up behind, which works well for a panorama (click to view large):
Still on the North side of the Golden Gate Bridge, there is Vista point, which is just next to where the bridge ends. I really like it because it is perfectly aligned with the bridge, giving a completely different perspective. It works great at night, or at sunset (you’re shooting towards the South).
Vista point also offers great views of San Francisco’s skyline. Though it’s not with the Golden Gate Bridge, you can see the Bay Bridge in the distance. Here’s a panorama I shot from this location (click to see large):
The last location we shot the Golden Gate Bridge from is one the South Side, on Marine Drive near Fort Point. It’s a great spot for sunrise, and you are next to the water, which provides a great foreground. The soft morning light worked great with a long exposure:
The Golden Gate Bridge has been photographed millions and millions of times. I don’t think I came back with any exceptional shot, but I really like a couple of them, because I was there. Don’t let an over-photographed location ruin your trip, enjoy the experience and shoot!