I mentioned the other day that I’d be in San Francisco this week and was looking for some places to shoot. I’ve also posted (several times before) of my bad luck when it comes to photographing the Golden Gate Bridge. Seriously… I’ve been up to the Marin Headlands to photograph the bridge at sunrise about 6-7 times over the past few years. Each time I’m there it’s fogged in. And not the cool fog layer that shows the top of the bridge. I mean fogged in to the point that I have yet to see the Golden Gate bridge at sunrise… EVER! 🙂

Anyway, after I posted about my trip the other day, Doc Miles (a local photographer/photo tour guide) sent me a message that he was taking a client out, and that he’d pick me up if I wanted to go along. So I did what any rental-car-less photographer would do in San Francisco and jumped at the chance.

We headed out at 5:15am to the Marin Headlands. As soon as we set out I knew my curse had lifted. I could actually see the Golden Gate Bridge! I realize this may seem silly to some of you, but you have to understand my luck when I’ve been in the Bay area. I never even see the bridge. Unfortunately, there wasn’t one bit of fog so I knew we weren’t going to get that classic shot of the bridge poking through the fog.

We arrived at Slackers Hill and hiked up. It’s about a 15 minute walk uphill. It’s not dangerous, but it’s all uphill so make sure you’re ready to get your heart rate going if you ever visit. When we got to the top the wind was ripping across the hill. So much so that I could see the tripod moving. I moved over the hill a bit to try to get out of the way of the wind and got down low. I captured a few twilight/blue hour photos there, but it was tough. Luckily the wind was coming across the direction I was shooting so I stood in front of the camera to try to block the wind.

From there, we tried to go to Hawk Hill, but the wind was directly in our faces and there was no way that we’d ever get a sharp photo. So we retreated to the entrance to the main road, where just about every tourist in the world stops to see the bridge 🙂 We waited for sunrise (which was happening directly in front of us) and I set my aperture to f/22 to try to get that nice sun-star as it came up over the horizon.

(click to see the photo larger)

Photo Details
Camera: Canon 5D Mark III
Lens: Canon 24-105mm
Aperture: f/22 (to get that sun-star in the distance)
Shutter Speed: 1/6
ISO: 100

Doc (the photo tour guide who picked me up) wasn’t shooting because he was spending his time with his client. But he asked how I did. I joked that he’d be jealous because I got a very rare photo of the bridge – no fog, no clouds, absolutely clear (hey, it was rare for me). I’m definitely not winning any awards with the photo, but Doc (and Martin, the photographer he was touring that morning) had a fun time, and I was happy enough to finally catch the Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise.

A huge thanks to Doc for letting me come along and to Martin for putting up with me for the morning. Both guys are great photographers so make sure you check out their sites. If you’re ever in the San Francisco area and you want a photo guide, make sure you give Doc a call. He rocks! Have a good one!


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