Golden Gate Bridge in Fog

Golden Gate Bridge in Fog

The graceful Golden Gate Bridge extends into the fog of a cool San Francisco summer evening

This is likely my last post from our California adventure this past summer. And, yes, I know that I’ve already posted an image of the Golden Gate Bridge. But, this one was beautiful enough that I couldn’t resist ending with it.

You see, I had already captured some pretty nice images of the bridge (Golden Gate Bridge and Summer Fog), but I had another image in mind. What I wanted to capture was a night shot of the bridge with a flow of traffic as one continuous light stream. We went to the parking area on the city side of the bridge and I actually found the spot that I needed to get the shot. Unfortunately, that location was completely fogged in and the shot I had visualized just wasn’t there that night.

So, I had to improvise. I began to scout around until I found another angle that would work. Although you can’t see the traffic flow from here, you can see the arch of the bridge deck as it spans San Francisco Bay. You can’t see the towers either, but you I love the way that they disappear into the gloom and fog above. I cranked up my aperture to f/22 to lengthen the exposure yielding beautiful, creamy water below in the bay and a lovely starburst on all the lights visible across the bridge.

All in all, I like the shot – even though it wasn’t what I had in mind originally. Enjoy.


Golden Gate Bridge and Summer Fog

Golden Gate Bridge and Summer Fog

Fog rolls through San Francisco Bay and gently shrouds the Golden Gate Bridge

As a tourist, the negative about visiting the central California coast in the summer is that fog can hang around the coast all day long. As a photographer, the positive about visiting the central California coast in the summer is that fog can hang around the coast all day long. (See what I did there?)

As Pamela and I drove up the coast from Carmel Highlands to Napa Valley, we decided to stick to the coast road and go straight through San Francisco. Since it was Fourth of July weekend this was a risky strategy. As it turned out, there were rewards and penalties. The reward was a quick visit to the Golden Gate Bridge and a series of incredible images. We also got to visit a favorite park in the Marin headlands. The negative was a three-hour drive north from San Francisco that could have been only an hour or so. Oh well. The rewards outweighed the penalty but I’m certainly not going to complain about Atlanta traffic anytime in the near future.

We had another opportunity to visit the bridge later in our trip, but it turned out that these shots were my favorites. I love the vibrant orange paint on the bridge contrasted by the blue skies, white clouds, and sea-foam green ocean water. The Golden Gate is beautiful in just about any weather, but she was particularly pretty this day. Enjoy.



A beautiful rowboat used to ply the waters surrounding Ireland’s Ross Castle

Although I had enjoyed our time in Ireland immensely up to this point, the last four days were the highlight of the trip for me. We had extended our trip on the front- and back-end to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and a “milestone” birthday for Pamela. Let’s just say that she has had multiple celebrations of her 30th birthday.

For the last four days we could wander wherever we wanted to and explore at our leisure. Leaving Ennis, our first destination was the famed Ring of Kerry. Ireland has many peninsulas that jut out into the Atlantic along her eastern shore. The Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula were two that we had researched and were looking forward to experiencing.

The first stop that we made on the Ring of Kerry was Ross Castle. I had seen some awesome photography from there and envisioned a specific shot of the castle taken at night with a beautiful reflection in the still lake surrounding it. Alas, the day we visited was raw and windy. Plus, I could tell that on Ireland’s roads, the easy drive I had envisioned to return to Ross Castle that evening simply wasn’t going to happen. So, I made do with a quick walk around a castle that looked very similar to several others that we had already visited.

To be honest, I was a bit underwhelmed and downcast. But, we had many, many other stops to make and I would certainly have other photo opportunities. Then – as is often the case – I found a shot that hadn’t even anticipated. There were several small row boats anchored in a small branch of the lake. I suppose these boats would be rented out on calmer days. On this day, no one was going for quite row on the choppy waters. So, the boats were tied up in a sheltered cove.

I maneuvered around a bit until I was able to isolate one of the boats. I love the way that the brilliant blues contrast with the lush green landscape and stone bridge in the background. I hope you enjoy it as well.

City of Light

City of Light

A view of the Eiffel Tower and Seine River at night

We finally come to my favorite image from our trip to France. I knew I wanted a unique (to me) shot of the Eiffel Tower but I didn’t know exactly what it could be. So, as we traipsed around Paris I kept looking for views that would incorporate as many aspects of the the beautiful city as possible.

As we walked from the Left Bank to the Right Bank I noticed that the Eiffel Tower was clearly visible from the Place de la Concorde. I spent quite a bit of time on the beautiful Pont de la Concorde shooting the unique street lamps and the view of buildings on either bank from there. While there I began to wonder what the view of the Eiffel Tower would be like at night with the Pont Alexandre III in the foreground. I had some luck the night before shooting Notre Dame and including a passing river cruise boat in the foreground (image here). I began to wonder if I could have an equally interesting shot doing so from the Pont de la Concorde.

We waited until after dinner and after most of the sights had closed for the evening. Then we make our way to the bridge to await sunset. Once again, I hoped for a brilliant sunset that would turn the sky all shades of brilliant pastels. Alas, that was not to happen this night. The cloud cover was simply too thick. In fact, as we waited for the lights of the city to come on, a fairly intense rain shower passed over us. We simply turned up the hoods of our rain jackets, covered the camera gear, and waited it out.

Finally, the rain had passed and the lights of the city began to come on. I wanted to take as long an exposure as possible so I stacked my polarizer and a neutral density filter on my 24-70 f/2.8 lens. At one point I set my aperture to f/22 in order to get a 30 second exposure. But, as the gloom deepened I had to back off that setting to keep my exposure from running up to two minutes or more. Even though I wanted the water to be rendered silky smooth and for the lights on the Pont Alexandre III to show as starbursts, I didn’t want a passing bus or other traffic to shake my camera and ruin the image. 30 seconds between bursts of traffic seemed to be the right setting for my shutter.

After shooting a series of exposures in the growing dark, this one is my favorite. The Eiffel Tower is vibrant. A passing river cruise boat adds an interesting streak of color on the Seine. The lights on the Pont Alexandre III add some interesting pops of color. And, the reflection of those lights adds a lot of interest to the river itself. There’s still enough remaining daylight to show some texture in the sky. Overall, I’m very pleased with the shot. I hope it conveys some sense of the beauty of Paris, city of light.

The Tranquility of Spring

The Tranquility of Spring

A footbridge and spring colors reflected in a small pond in Magnolia Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is filled with beautiful scenes. That is especially true in spring. There are several bridges that lead over canals or out to small islands in ponds. In my last post, the red bridge in the Japanese Garden is a good example of such a bridge.

In other parts of the gardens, the bridges are painted white and have graceful arches. This one leads to a very small island with some trees and small artifacts. Of course the island isn’t the main attraction; the bridge is. I spent quite a while isolating the bridge and looking for a nice background. After moving my tripod around a good bit and swapping between various lenses, I like this composition the best. The bridge is clearly the main subject, but the azaleas, trees, and reflection all add to the composition. It’s a good representation of the colors of spring found in Charleston. I hope you enjoy it too.

The Red Bridge in Spring

The Red Bridge in Spring

Spring colors and the red bridge in Charleston’s Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

Charleston in the spring is a beautiful place. There are many public locations that are free to visit and gorgeous to behold. There are also private homes and gardens that are open for tours that are also worth visiting. Many of those are located on Ashley River Road northwest of Charleston. They are all beautiful in their own way but my personal favorite is Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.

Although the house is not original, the gardens are laid out as they were originally designed. Located on the Ashley River, it’s not hard to imagine crops being harvested, boats sailing up and down the river, and the ladies and gentlemen of the area strolling the garden paths. Knowing that some of the trees were planted in pre-revolutionary times makes me pause and think about all that has happened on this land in the past 300 or more years.

The gardens are composed of multiple smaller sections that are tied together with a series of crushed gravel paths. One of my favorite sections is the Japanese garden. There are many bridges in the gardens, but only this one is painted a vibrant red. I spent thirty minutes or so composing scenes that include the red bridge. After reviewing them all, I think this is my favorite. This is the scene as viewed when first encountering the bridge coming from the entrance to the gardens. I love how the bridge leads my eye into the scene with azaleas in bloom, spanish moss dripping from the trees, and the whole scene reflected in the still pond water.

I’ve included another view from the other side of the bridge below. They’re both beautiful and make me long for the colors of spring that are now nearly a year away. Enjoy.

Azalea and Red Bridge

An azalea blooms alongside the red bridge in beautiful Magnolia Gardens, Charleston, South Carolina

Cooper River Bridge Sunset

Cooper River Bridge Sunset

Charleston’s beautiful Cooper River Bridge at twilight

Although I often bemoan the fact that I don’t live near any of the western national parks, there are still some beautiful places to visit in the southeast United States. One of those beautiful places that is an easy drive from my from door is Charleston, South Carolina. I should include Savannah and all of the Lowcountry in that category actually. The southeast coast is beautiful in any season, but particularly so in spring.

I took a few days to visit Charleston this past spring and didn’t come away disappointed. As is usually the case, I had a number of places on my shot list, but many of my favorite images from the trip were just scenes that I happened upon.

This first image is a blend of those two categories. I definitely had the Cooper River Bridge in mind to shoot. In fact, I had thought about a better angle on it since the last time I was in Charleston. I had seen it in the distance from the Battery but I hadn’t been close enough to make an interesting image. But, I didn’t know exactly where I would need to shoot from.

So, I timed my trip down from Atlanta so that I could make sunset in Charleston. It was a bit of a closer call than I had envisioned, but I did make it an hour or so before sunset. So, I had some time to scout locations. After driving around the Patriots Point area a bit, I settled on this location. It’s not hard to find, but I did have to wander up and down the bank of the Cooper River a bit to find just the right location. This shot isn’t perfect, but it’s the best I could find that evening.

I had envisioned a brilliant sunset with the bridge in the foreground. But, this night was shaping up to be largely devoid of clouds. A few clouds wandered through my frame just before sunset but there just weren’t enough there to generate a brilliant sunset. So, I settled down to wait for twilight hoping for a blue/purple sky that would provide a colorful background for the bridge.

Fortunately, my patience paid off in this case. The clouds cleared away. The clear sky allowed a gradation from orange to blue with the Cooper River Bridge as the foreground. As an added bonus, the bridge began to light up about ten minutes after sunset. The lights on the bridge balanced nicely with the light level at twilight. Consequently, I was able to take single exposures of two to ten seconds and still catch all the contrast in the scene. This image was shot at f/11 with ISO 100 for five seconds. I’m really pleased with the result. It’s actually a better image than I had in my mind’s eye. Enjoy!

Somesville Bridge

Somesville Bridge

This beautiful arched bridge is located in the lovely village of Somesville - the first town established on Mt. Desert Island

Mt. Desert Island has a very interesting history and the village of Somesville is intimately involved in that history. Although frequented by native Americans, there is little evidence of long-term settlement by them on the island. When the French arrived in the 1600s they attempted to establish a colony here, but were pushed out by the British. The area remained contested for the next 150 years or so. When the British defeated the French in Quebec in 1759, French influence ended and the area opened to English settlement. The Somes and Richardson families moved up from Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1760 to live on the island. They sailed to the head of what is now known as Somes Sound and settled in the area that is now known as Somesville.

This unique and lovely bridge is found by the main road leading through town and is by no means difficult to access. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful structure and demands to be photographed. We were fortunate to pass by while some brilliantly colored foliage was still on the trees surrounding the bridge. It was a windy day when this image was taken, but the banks of the stream helped block the wind and allowed a reflection to quickly reform once the breeze died down.

This image is a blend of five files shot with one stop of exposure between each. This was necessary to capture the extreme latitude of light between the highlights in the sky and the shadows near the tree line. In an ideal world, there would have been some high clouds and little wind. However, those weren’t the conditions and the multiple exposures were necessary. Although an overcast sky would have generated much more even light, I love the way the bright sunshine makes the reds and yellows in this scene pop. The contrast of the white bridge with the brilliant fall colors makes for a lovely image.

Hadlock Brook and Waterfall Bridge

Hadlock Brook and Waterfall Bridge

Hadlock Brook flows under a carriage road and Waterfall Bridge surrounded by beautiful fall foliage

In my last post I described the carriage roads and bridges found in Acadia National Park. The photo in the last post was of the only naturally occurring waterfall found in the park. Now, I always love to photograph waterfalls, but in this case the bridges were often as beautiful as the streams they crossed.

That certainly is the case here. We were standing atop Waterfall Bridge to take a photo of the falls and surrounding foliage. Considering the beauty of the granite bridge, I had to figure out a way to include the bridge in an image along with the waterfall. Fortunately, most of the bridges have some form of path allowing a relatively easy descent down to the streams or gorges they cross. I worked my way down that path looking for an unobstructed view of the bridge that also allowed a view of the waterfall through the bridge’s arch.

I couldn’t find a perfect angle that matched the image I had in my mind’s eye. There were trees and shrubs growing up along the relatively steep banks of Hadlock Brook. At one point I moved up virtually into the arch and used my 14-24 wide angle lens. I could see the waterfall and surrounding foliage but the arch was distorted from its actual graceful curve. Although there are some foreground elements that I wish were not in this image, I like this perspective. You can see the texture of the stone work. the design elements of the bridge, the arch, and the some of the waterfall on the other side of the bridge. It was quite a windy day and you can see some blur in some of the foliage, but I don’t think that distracts from the image.