San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge, Morning. San Francisco, California. January 6, 2013. © Copyright 2013 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
San Francisco skyline and Golden Gate Bridge at dawn as a winter storm passes
I have previously photographed this alignment of San Francisco icons so I know more or less the precise spot to set up in – a slice of landscape about 10 feet wide and perhaps 40 feet long. It has been a few years since I’ve stopped to photograph there, but the opportunity came up on this morning. I had driven up to San Francisco and across the Golden Gate Bridge to meet up with a large group of photographers who were on a so-called “photo walk” devoted to long exposure photography. I had no idea it would be as popular as it turned out to be! Although I arrived at the base of the road to this location well before sun rise, as I ascended I encountered several successive parking areas that were already full… before dawn… on a cold winter day… during a storm!
So I headed on up the road toward the summit, but found that access gates were closed before the top. I parked and thought a bit about what I might shoot, then grabbed my gear and started walking on up the hill. Before long I stopped at this spot – where other photographers were already set up – and set up in “my spot” that aligns the bridge tower with the building and made a few exposures. It was still quite dark – just before dawn and with thick clouds above the city – but this ended up working to my advantage. Photographing this bridge at night is very tricky because the towers are lit rather brightly and the orange color is very “hot” when photographed, making for some truly complicated exposure decisions. However, with just a bit of diffused pre-dawn light filtering in and the lights in the city not yet extinguished, it became possible to get a nice exposure on the bridge and reveal some of the details of the downtown buildings.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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