Sep 18

Baker Beach Photo Shoot

Those of you who know me are aware that I’m into photography as a hobby. This past week, I waited anxiously for the arrival of some new Cokin neutral density filters to arrive by UPS. They showed up yesterday, and I immediately packed up my gear for an expedition to Baker Beach in San Francisco for a shoot I’ve long wanted to do of the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset.I called my friend Linda, who’d expressed interest in coming along, and told her I’d pick her up after work if she was still interested. She was all for it, so as soon as my work day ended, I headed straight toward the city, picking her up from where she works along the way.

We still had plenty of time before ‘magic hour’ hit the scene I wanted to shoot, and I knew we’d be out there until after dark, so we stopped off at Houston’s for dinner first. It’s sort of along the way, depending on the route you take to get to Baker Beach, and I usually like to take the scenic route along the waterfront. I had my usual, a wonderful filet mignon, and then we set off again on our little adventure.

As we wound our way around the North end of the peninsula, it was looking pretty foggy over by the bridge, and I wondered if I’d get the shots I was looking for. Either way, I’d get something, and fog is always to be expected when you’re shooting around San Francisco anyway.

When we got to the beach, most of the fog had already dissipated, and the setting sun was absolutely golden, with the light working on the bridge just as I’d hoped for. We parked as far down toward the bridge as we could get, which is still quite a ways from where I wanted to shoot, and headed off into the sand, enjoying a cool ocean breeze as we made our way North toward the bridge.

I’d hoped that there’d be very few people there at that time, since I didn’t want the blurs they’d cause in the long exposures I intended to shoot. I calculated that with temperatures cooling this time of year, and on a Friday evening when most people were winding down from a work week, Baker Beach would be the last thing on their minds. I was delighted to find exactly that. There was a photographer and a couple in wedding clothes that went down to the beach just ahead of us for the classic wedding/beach/sunset/bridge shot. They only went as far as they had to in order to get the shot, then hurried back up to the parking area before we even got to where they posed. Other than that, there were very few people out there. We were practically alone.

As we neared the rocky area at the North end of the beach, I stopped to get a few shots here and there, then moved on to get closer to my target shooting area: the rocks themselves. I had an idea that if I climbed up on the rocks and set up my tripod looking down a bit so that the top of the bridge was near the top of the frame, I’d get a lot of the water action I was looking for. My intent was to use the neutral density filters to get some long exposures, producing a more ethereal image than a normal exposure of the water’s waves and splashing. I also wanted to experiment with a sunset filter to bring out more orange in the bridge, and a bottom-oriented graduated blue filter to keep the water the right color despite the sunset filter.

Over the next couple of hours, I shot about 100 photos from different perspectives, using a variety of shutter and aperture settings, and playing with the filters. Linda was very patient with the whole thing. I was afraid she’d be terribly bored just watching me stand there with my tripod-mounted camera, tweaking and pressing buttons and going in and out of my camera bag for various gadgets. She said she was enjoying it all anyway, and it was a beautiful place to take in a gorgeous sunset, so it all worked out great.

As the sun finally dipped below the horizon, the lights on the bridge slowly came on here and there, until it was all lit more by artificial light than by the natural light of the setting sun. Eventually, I’d had enough, and was eager to get home and have a look at the results, so I squeezed off one last shot, packed up my gear and called it a wrap.

By then, it was pretty dark, so Linda pulled out a handy flashlight she keeps in her bag (I’ve got to get one of those!), and we carefully climbed down from our rocky perch and headed back down the beach toward the parking area. We went back to my house, downloaded the photos onto my computer and had a look at them. I was very pleased with the results, and got at least a couple dozen ‘keepers’ out of the shoot. Here’s a sample:

Here’s the EXIF info for the shot above:
I hope you like it. I sure had fun shooting it!


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  1. Buffalo

    The photos are cool. Any luck on meeting that friend of yours?

  2. Buffalo

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Anonymous

    Hi Buck,

    I have been following your story on and off for the past 3 years, but have never contacted you before.
    I really like your new blog setup and I have to say – that’s an incredible photo!
    Glad to read you’re doing well and enjoying life.

    Ms. M

  4. Anonymous

    Great picture of the Golden Gate. Been following your journel for quite some time. Hope to see more of your pictures and read more of your adventures.

    Mr. T

  5. Anonymous

    Great picture on the Golden Gate. Hope to see more of your pictures. Been following your journel for quite some time. Hope to see more and read more of your adventures.

    Mr. T

  6. Anonymous

    Hi Buck been following you for about 2 years always interested in what you doing. Can’t even remember how I stumbled upon your site, good to see your well and enjoying life. Great photo I have it as my desktop now.
    Keep on shooting

  7. phillydog

    Hey great shots Buck, but I know how good of a photographer you are, so lets get to what I really want to know, and that is where is the picture of, and whats up with your friend Linda, come on buddy give me the 411. Luv u man talk to you soon.

  8. Buckster

    Yo! Wayne! The email address I have for you is no longer valid. Shoot me a regular email at: buckcash@buckcash.com so I can get your current one, and I’ll fill you in…

  9. Anonymous

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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