How to: The Golden Gate (Location, Location, Location)


While not my favorite shot of the amazing photography opportunity that is the Golden Gate Bridge, I want to use this to talk about the best locations for shooting this landmark. Doing some homework before you head out to take pictures is just as important as the equipment, shooting skill, and post processing. As with real estate- location, location, location matters. Using programs/apps like SunCalc for sun position and Google Earth, you do a little homework and really set up for success. This might not be the most thrilling post you’ll read on this site- but I hope it is a good reference for future photographers visiting the area.

The area around the Golden Gate has many very accessible locations that you can choose from depending on how you want to compose your photographs. There are some of the most obvious ones: on the bridge itself, or from the aptly named Vista Point guest area, but I’ll take you through a few other choices.

Taking the first exit after the bridge on the north side of the bay, head for Conzelman Road. This rout lies along the mouth of the bay on the north side and has the best views of the bridge. The first parking area is Battery Spencer (part of the greater Fort Baker). After parking it’s a short and windy hike to the top of the hill where you overlook the bridge. San Francisco’s skyline is directly behind the bridge and that makes this a great spot for either sunrise (which happens to the east behind the bridge and city), and for shots of the city lights at night.

As you drive further along Conzleman, keep a look out for other unmarked places to stop. About .5 miles past Spencer there is a spot where the iconic pyramid of the Trans-America building is perfectly framed in the center of the bridge station. Lastly, on the north side is Hawk Hill. This last parking/viewing area offers a great panoramic of entire bridge and allows the best perspective of the full bridge looking to the east. I’ll be sure to post some pictures from these locations as the blog progresses.

On the East side, most obviously is Marine Drive and Torpedo Warf, down by Crissy Field Park. Easily accessible via foot, bike, or car from down town, this water-level location makes it easy to get a nice shot of the bridge. Since you are looking west, it sets up nicely for sunset as well.

The final location I’ll highlight is west of the bridge, but on the south side. Taking the first exit off of 101s out of the bridge’s tolls, look for Langton Court. Parking here gives nice framing of the bridge’s length, and most importantly, there is beach access. Some of the best pictures of the bridge that I have seen are taken from the beach. A long exposure to glass over the water, a shorter one for crisp details of the bridge: perfect! Right next to Langton court is Merchant Drive. The above picture was taken from the wooded hillside just north of the parking lot. As you can see, this site allows you to align the road and the bridge perfectly. Layer in a long exposure for some streaked headlights and you have an interesting picture!

Have other favorite locations? Have shots of your own to share? Let me see in the comments! If you want more posts about travel tips, photography how to, or wallpapers, please follow us on Facebook!

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