Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘golden gate bridge

The Golden Gate’s 75th Anniversary

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Olympus OMD E-M5 + Lumix G Vario  7-14mm f/4 at 13mm | 1.6 sec, f/5, ISO 200

This past Sunday marked the 75th anniversary of what is my opinion the most beautiful bridge in the world. After a long hike up the Marin Headlands in the afternoon, we settled down at an ideal spot to view the evening’s fireworks show. To stay light during the long hike, I left the dslr at home and brought along my smaller Olympus OM-D E-M5 to cover the event. The show was beyond amazing! I originally thought there’d be fireworks out over just the water with the bridge as a backdrop, but I had to pick my jaw back up off the floor when fire started shooting from the bridge itself.

On the drive home, I discovered that the OM-D has a pretty neat image overlay feature. I used it to cobble together some composite images in-camera, which you can output as JPEG or RAW files. It’s a great way to kick your fireworks photos up a notch:

Happy 75th, Golden Gate. I’ll never tire of photographing you!

Written by Jonathan

May 29, 2012 at 6:48 am

Still My Favorite Bridge

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Fuji x100 | 30 sec, f/11, ISO 200

The Bay Bridge may have just celebrated a milestone anniversary, but the beauty of the Golden Gate is unmatched. Combining beautiful weather with a holiday weekend, there was just no way I’d be able to shoot from the headlands yesterday. It was just too packed with tourists up there. So I opted for a less known area to the east of the bridge. Besides a few scattered people here and there, Suki and I basically had the whole place to ourselves.


Nikon D700 + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 | 16mm,1/320 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800

While this is quite an enjoyable sight for me, hanging out by the water here couldn’t be more boring for Suki, who prefers to be on the move. It’s still nice to have a little bit of company, even if its reluctant company :)


Fuji x100 | 30 sec, f/16, ISO 200

This shot was taken about 5 minutes after the one up top. I tweaked the white balance to give the sky a cooler, bluer look, whereas the top image shows the color as I set it at the camera. Can’t decide which one I like better, but the top image is a more accurate representation of how the scene actually looked. I hope to get more fiery clouds in the background next time, but at least there were more clouds yesterday than there were when I made my last attempt at this location.

Written by Jonathan

November 14, 2011 at 10:25 am

Morning Fog over the Golden Gate

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Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G AFS (view large)

Warm, clear days are often followed by mornings with low fog along the coast here in San Francisco. Yesterday was particularly warm and clear, so the wife and I woke up extra early to spend today’s sunrise together in the Marin Headlands, hoping to take a nice shot of the Golden Gate Bridge with low fog.

We’ve made a couple of trips out here before work in the last few months, but have always been met with an overwhelming amount of fog on arrival. On our last attempt, we almost hit a deer as we drove through fog so thick you could only see 10 feet or so ahead of the car. We screamed. Really loud. And we came back with exactly zero images of the bridge.

We were really hoping for a clearing in the fog as we drove up this time around, because hey, the Golden Gate Bridge toll is outrageous and we wanted our six dollars to count for something. Thankfully, conditions were perfect.


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G AFS

These shots were taken from the very popular Battery Spencer area of the Marin Headlands. I had another location further up the mountain in mind this morning, but our time was limited, and it wasn’t long before we had to drive back over the bridge and head to our respective day jobs. We did, however, have just enough time to grab a few frames, and then put the cameras away and just soak in the beautiful sunrise together.


Fuji X100 | 1/30 sec, f/2, ISO 200

This was the best seat in the city this morning.

Written by Jonathan

September 29, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Blue Hour Photographs

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Fuji X100 | 9 sec, f/11, ISO 200 (JPEG output: Astia)

On the way to meet friends for dinner in downtown SF last night, I stopped by the pier to grab some night shots with the X100. It was a surprisingly warm evening. Perfect for a relaxing stroll with the camera.


Left: Fuji X100 | 1/10 sec, f/2, ISO 200 (hand-held) ||  Right: Fuji X100 | 2sec, f/11, ISO 200

At this point the light was falling fast. After a couple of hand-held snaps, I brought out my trusty gorillapod for some long expsosures:


Fuji X100 | 7 sec, f/11, ISO 200 (JPEG output: Astia)

I would normally shoot RAW when doing night photography, but out of curiosity I recorded RAW and JPEG files simultaneously. To put it simply, the X100 puts out a fantastic JPEG file.


Fuji X100 | 30 sec, f/16, ISO 200 (RAW: Processed in LR3)

The built in 3-stop neutral density filter came in handy for giving the water a more glassy look and smoothing out the clouds, though I do prefer the more dramatic sky that resulted from the 7 second exposure over the 30 second exposure above.

I continue to be amazed that such a relatively small camera packs such a serious image quality punch. I feel like such a ninja with the X100. Silent, extremely portable, and incredibly quick to deploy:


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G AFS |  1/125 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1600

Tonight I wanted to get a couple frames of the Golden Gate during blue hour. Arrived on site, jumped out of the car, climbed down on the rocks, plopped the small rig down and fired away. I was happy that the fog stayed high enough in the sky to be a sweet element in the photo without completely shrouding the bridge, which is often the case in this very foggy city.


Fuji X100 | 30 sec, f/11, ISO 200 (RAW: Processed in LR3/CS5)

Click on the image above to see a larger version on my City and Landscape gallery.

Written by Jonathan

August 19, 2011 at 10:55 pm

HDR with Photomatix Pro

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Alright, I finally did it. I broke down and gave HDR a try (click image above for large version). Creating a HDR or high dynamic range image involves blending multiple exposures together in order to display detail in the final image that would otherwise be lost in a single exposure. Our eyes are capable of looking at a scene with bright highlights and dark shadows and still see an immense amount of detail. Cameras simply don’t have that kind of ability, which is why blending exposures is useful when a scene contains very bright and very dark elements at the same time.

I set my D300s to automatically bracket a series of photos for me at 1 stop increments, and here’s what I got out of the camera:

Notice that if the sky looks good, the beach looks too dark. Conversely, if the sand looks detailed, the sky is blown out. There’s simply too much range for the camera to pick up detail in all areas of the frame. Yes, I suppose I could have used a split neutral density filter to even things out, but the purpose of this shoot was to experiment with HDR.

Exposure blending used to be extremely difficult, requiring the use of multiple layers, masks, and a whole lot of brush strokes to manually bring out detail in the HDR image. Nowadays, it’s dead simple. Photoshop has a “merge to HDR” feature built-in, but it’s not quite as good as standalone software like Photomatix Pro, which I used to merge this HDR image. All I had to do was drag the four bracketed images above straight from Lightroom 3 Beta 2 into Photomatix Pro, specify a few parameters, and POOF! It spit out an HDR image. Of course, what you see at the top of this post is not what you get right after the merge in Photomatix. I still had to tone map the HDR, then export it as a standard image file back into Lightroom for post-processing before it looked satisfactory.

I’m pretty excited about how easy the process was. My goal was to try to convey the scene the way my own eyes saw it, and I have to say that the final result looks very close to what I experienced that evening. Overall, I’m glad that I decided to give HDR a try, and I look forward using this photographic tool again.

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Camera Specs: Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at f/13 ISO200, various shutter speeds.

Clear Skies over the Golden Gate

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Nikon D300s + Tokina 11-16 f/2.8

Nikon D300s + Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 at 16mm f/5.6, ISO 200 1/125 Sec

After a week of pretty heavy fog, particularly across the west of San Francisco, the skies cleared up this past weekend and the opportunity opened up for me to get a clear shot of the Golden Gate Bridge. I brought along with me my Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 and new Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC for the shoot. The weather was so perfect that I left my jacket at home (that’s rare, even in the summertime over here). The wife and I (and dog) sat at Crissy Field and watched the sun fall below the horizon over a light dinner that we packed (er…picked up at a local deli). After the sun set, I set up by the bridge and fired away.

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC at 29mm f/13, ISO200 25 Sec

I usually tote my small Surefire flashlight with me when we go night shooting, just in case. Of course, the one time I forget to bring it is the time we really needed it. Crissy Field goes completely dark at night!

Sadly, I haven’t really had a whole lot of time to dedicate to photography lately, which is a shame since the weather has been so nice. Here’s hoping the weather stays clear through the weekend!

Written by Jonathan

September 30, 2009 at 8:51 pm