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Bridges of San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge; Baker Beach copyright 2011 Andy Richards

We had the pleasure of spending a week in Northern California the first week in October (mainly in San Francisco). In normal circumstances, San Francisco has a robust array of interesting photographic subjects. We were fortunate to be there during “Fleet Week,” (more in a later blog), which added to the opportunities to make some unique images.

Except from the South, San Francisco is a peninsula which can only be reached by water or by bridge. There are two magnificent bridges that are the primary entrance points to the city of San Francisco: The San Francisco “Bay Bridge,” and the “The Golden Gate Bridge,” which has become one of the iconic photographic images of San Francisco.

Golden Gate Bridge; Marin Headlands copyright 2011 Andy Richards

San Francisco Bay is protected by land, except for a narrow passage from the Pacific Ocean—The Golden Gate. The Golden Gate Bridge spans the Golden Gate, and connects the mainland of San Francisco to the Marin Headlands and points North. The bridge is perhaps the most photographed bridge in the world. Getting a clear image of the Golden Gate Bridge is not always an easy task as the geographic and atmospheric conditions for much of the year create heavy, dense fog in the Golden Gate, which can completely obscure the bridge from view.

The Golden Gate can be photographed from many different views and its South-to-North span lends itself to both early morning and late afternoon photographs, depending on whether it is photographed from the Pacific “Baker Beach” to the Southwest, the Marin Headlands to the Northwest, or from The Presidio and vicinity or Sausalito Harbor, on the Southeast and Northeast side of the bridge, respectively. The only place I didn’t have the opportunity to shoot from was Sausalito.  On a rare, clear day, you can photograph the San Francisco City skyline with the bridge in the foreground.

San Francisco Bay Bridge copyright 2011 Andy Richards

Because of its iconic status, the Golden Gate often obscures the beauty of the Bay Bridge, which crosses from the Eastern mainland city of Oakland, to the East side of downtown San Francisco, near the Port of San Francisco and the Ferry Terminal. With its traditional suspension architecture, the Bay Bridge is particularly photogenic in the early morning hours. I photographed it from the Embarcadero (a street which skirts the shore of San Francisco Bay for most of the city) at sunrise and in the early morning hours on a couple of different days. I also had the opportunity to photograph it on an unusually clear night from Alcatraz Island.

San Francisco Bay Bridge copyright 2011 Andy Richards

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