Bay Bridge at Sunset

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 48mm f/18 ISO200 5.0 seconds, No Post Process
Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 48mm f/18 ISO200 5.0 seconds, No Post Process

Finally found some time to head out and photograph this great city I live in this Saturday evening. I’ve been wanting to take this very iconic and classic shot of the Bay Bridge from Treasure Island for a long time now. I stuck around at this spot for about an hour and a half, so I could capture the sunset as well as the dusk. I was pretty much entirely alone here, except for this one tourist whose family stopped their car in the middle of the road so he could run out and set up by my spot, attempting to shoot the same scene with his flash turned on. Yes, his flash…because the city lights and falling sun do not produce enough light I guess. One more tiny strobe fired from several miles away should do the trick!

The image above is a little different from the one I posted on my flickr site. For one thing, it’s a SOOC shot, straight out of the camera. Yep, I had so much time on my hands waiting for the sun to drop that I figured I’d play with the D300s’s own processing engine a bit, and I came away pretty impressed with the JPEGs it produces. That being said, I still shoot RAW when I shoot at night. Why?

Simply because it allows me the option to interpret an image in more than one way. I could be perfectly happy with the white balance as I set it in the field while I’m shooting, but when I get home and upload my images to Lightroom, I often like to make further adjustments on a nice big computer monitor, and then compare a few color interpretations before deciding on my favorite image. I sometimes hear JPEG-exclusive photographers say that those who shoot RAW should “get it right the first time.” Well, people don’t necessarily shoot RAW because they can’t use a camera effectively. They do so because it allows more creative flexibility. That being said, I’m not a RAW snob either. I’ll happily shoot in either format depending on the situation.

The image below was shot in RAW and then output to JPEG in Lightroom using the white balance I set in my camera at the time of recording. I wanted to get that really blue dusky sky in the shot at the time. When I got home and got the image into the computer, I decided I wanted to try a warmer look, and I ended up with the photo I finally posted to flickr.

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 48mm f/11 ISO200 6.0 Seconds
Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 48mm f/11 ISO200 6.0 Seconds

Getting to this location was tough. I drove around the island for a long time trying to find the right angle for this shot. After parking in one spot and then hiking around for about 20 minutes, I got a visual on where I needed to be (on a lower spot on the island), and of course, it’s not directly accessible on foot, and there’s nowhere to legally park your car for miles there. It’s right off a two way rode leading to and from the bay bridge.

I had the wife drop me off quickly at the spot and drive off to another location with the dog, giving me all the time I needed to get this shot. Thanks honey!

I was really hoping to get some dramatic colored clouds in the sky in this shot. There were clouds in the sky that night, and in fact, when I first arrived at this site, there was a huge cloud right over the skyline that I was thrilled about. Unfortunately, before the sun started casting golden and red color into the sky, the clouds had moved east and completely out of the frame. Just to the left and outside of the frame in the first shot you see above is an amazing, red cloud formation. Oh well.

So in the end, I didn’t get the exact shot I was looking for, but I’ll definitely return to this location for another try.

UPDATE: See a reworked version of this image on my flickr page.

15 thoughts on “Bay Bridge at Sunset

  1. You’re welcome honey! Suki and I had fun taking a stroll down the Treasure Island coast. Up and down…and back up…then back down…yes, an hour and a half was a long while to wait for you! But glad you got these pretty shots, they are iconic!

  2. “I had the wife drop me off quickly at the spot and drive off to another location with the dog, giving me all the time I needed to get this shot. ” Wow nice team work! The bridge balances the skyline VERY nicely! I always wanted to go to treasure island.

  3. AWESOME! when you take these fantastic dusky cityscapes are you working in full manual, aperature or shutter priority? im relatively new to photography so maybe theres a mode i didn’t even think about :]

    1. Hello, and thanks!

      I do shoot in manual for my night time city-scapes. In drawing out as much color as I can from the sky without blowing out the city lights, I need full control of what the camera is doing, especially since the lighting conditions shift very rapidly as the sun drops.

      There have been occasions when I’ve used Aperture Priority for a night shot, but it really just depends on the lighting conditions. For almost all my other photography, however, Aperture Priority is my setting of choice.

  4. Hi Jonathan,

    I came accross your blog last week while searching the Internet for some feedback on the new Tamron 17-50 VC. Having a brand new D300s myself, I’m considering buying this lense as a replacement for my Nikon 16-85 VR.

    I guess you’re still pretty happy with this D300s – Tamron couple, aren’t you ?

    Anyway, your pictures are great and I’m always glad to read your new entries 😉

    Best regards from Paris and keep up the good work.


    1. Thank you for your comments and visits Nicolas!

      Wow, Paris! Such a photogenic city =)

      I at one time was considering the 16-85 as a general purpose lens for my kit. The range is very useful and I hear it’s a great performer. But yes, I am indeed in love with my Tamron. Thanks again!

      1. Well, I must admit I’m quite satisfied with my 16-85… Even though I don’t have much point of comparison, it’s a really sharp lens that gives very good results when light is here.

        But eventually, there will always come a time when you’re missing a bigger aperture and more DOF.

        I’m travelling to Japan on Friday so that will be probably a good place to play around with this Tamron lens and take my decision.

        Enough gear talk, back to your great pics 😉

  5. Mike: Thank you!


    Japan is my favorite place in the world, mostly because of Yodobashi =P
    Have a great time there! I look forward to seeing the images you bring back from your trip.

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