My quest for the perfect photo of Golden Gate

Zakim Bridge A few months before I moved to San Francisco from Boston, I decided that I wanted to try to take wall-worthy photos of the iconic bridge in each city.  My first attempt in Boston I stumbled across a new walkway that had just opened up near Boston's Zakim Bridge and based on what I could find online at the time I was one of the first photographer's to discover the bridge from that view.  It looks pretty nice printed on canvas over my bed right now, but it's a little lonely because I have not been so lucky trying to take a great photo of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I've been trying to take the picture of Golden Gate from a place called Baker's Beach (see map here).

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco at sunset

My first attempt I got there, scoped out the scene and walked around a bigt, and then setup my camera and tripod only to realize my battery was just about dead.  The few photos I got before my camera died were all before sun had fully gone down.  Not what I was envisioning.

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

My next attempt was much better, the waves were big, it was a nice night, and I knew what I was looking to do.  I took a bunch of shots and was pretty excited about how they were turning out based on the display on my camera.  I got home and looked at them on a bigger screen and was immediately disappointed   They were good, but not great.  The water wasn't as smooth as I was hoping for and the sky was kind of boring.

This weekend I went out for shoot #3.  Before I went I bought a Tiffen Color Graduated Neutral Density 0.6 Filter, which one puts on the lens to make one half of the photo darker than the other.  In this photo, I used it to darken the bridge so I could get let more light in on the water (and slightly increase the "blur motion" of the water).  I would say this is by far my favorite, and while it isn't all I had envisioned or hoped for it's a pretty nice photograph and will likely look quite nice on the wall next to the Zakim.  I had been hoping for some bigger waves, but in exchange I got a really cool looking sky.  Next time I go back I'm going to try the angle/position of attempt #2, but with the filter applied from #3.  Here's the final photo:

Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco