The Golden Gate Bridge with San Francisco sparkling behind is one of America’s most iconic cityscapes. Having spent some years across the Bay studying at Berkeley, I have photographed this bridge quite a bit. On a recent visit to the city, I asked myself ‘how do I photograph this scene in a different way?’
Staring out from the bluffs northwest of the bridge, I recognized that this view speaks to me of a graceful connection between the West’s wide-open spaces and this city. Everything in the scene is big: the city, the surrounding hills, the bay, the ocean, the sky and the bridge that connects them all together. To capture this feeling, I decided to create some really huge images. Multiple frame panoramic pictures are my preferred way of going really big. Merging a series of images not only lets me fit more of the scene into a photograph; it also allows me to do it with less distortion and far more resolution. In other words, it gives me really big, beautiful prints. Utilizing a sturdy tripod and panoramic adaptor, I set up my 36.3 megapixel D800 and waited for some color in the evening sky. As if on queue, nature provided a stunning sunset just as a large ship sailed under the bridge. Using careful manual exposure metering to take advantage of my Nikon’s extremely wide dynamic range (or ability to capture bright highlights and dark shadows simultaneously), I triggered a series of eight wide-angle images from the bright western sky, over the headlands all the way past 180 degrees, to the dark eastern sky over the distant Bay Bridge. The resultant image, displayed below, captures that artistic connection between the natural and the urban that this bridge provides.
After the sunset, while the sky was still a lovely shade of blue, the Golden Gate and San Francisco erupted in light. Swapping my wide-angle lens for a normal focal length, I pivoted my camera through two rows of 10 images, to create the 300-megapixel image headlining this story. The ability to enlarge this image is difficult to illustrate on a computer screen. Suffice it say that the smaller square crop from the image, as shown in the close-up above, is still scaled down to one-third of it’s original size!
I can’t wait to print these images BIG!