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



Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, and Great Salt Lake in Utah

Yellowstone was enormous and I only saw a very small part of it, but what I did see was not nearly as impressive as I'd been expecting.  I also learned about the great fire in 1988 they had, it's unbelievable how much damage it did back then and what some of the landscape still looks like 20+ years later.  Grand Teton was unbelievably gorgeous and makes me want to head to Jackson Hole to go skiing sometime soon.  Finally, Antelope Island on the Great Salt Lake was an interesting environment with magnificent views of the surrounding area.  I had always assumed the Salt Lake was very built up and a huge recreation area (like almost every lake in New England it seems is), but it was surprisingly desolate.

Chicago (and a bunch of other states)

Today we started from New Jersey, crossed a bunch of boring states (PA, IN, OH), and then headed to Chicago where we got to enjoy a quick walking tour and a deep dish pizza. Along the way we passed a bunch of pro-coal energy and religious billboards along with a "Obama is for gay marriage and pro abortion, vote Republican" one.  I will definitely have to come visit Chicago again and spend more time exploring, it seems like a great city.