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Golden Gate Bridge, black and white and color

Golden Gate Bridge from Crissy Field, July 14, 2013.

See larger here

See larger here 

Driving back from my Oregon vacation earlier this summer, we just happened to cross the Golden Gate Bridge in the last hour before sunset. So, we popped off the 101 and drove to Crissy Field, always a fun vantage point for bridge photos.

The light was great and the clouds were dramatic. I tossed my wide-angle Nikon 10-24mm lens on the camera and took the above photos (as well as a bunch more).

They were both tough images to process because the bridge is a small part of the overall view and the bridge didn't stand out as bold and dark in either of the originals. I suspect some may find that a fatal flaw in these photos. Others probably won't mind and like the overall scene. I like them both; I also suspect that under the right circumstances the light may break a little bit better.

But you have to take what you can get people.

The black and white photo also had an additional challenge: dueling horizon lines, one courtesy of the water in San Francisco Bay and the other the edge of Crissy Field. Naturally, they didn't exactly match -- poopydogsticks! -- so it took a lot of back and forth to ensure the image didn't appear crooked (crooked horizon lines drive me nuts). In addition, I had to do some digital burning and dodging to darken and lighten different parts of the frame.

The color image wasn't too hard to process. I tried a hint of split toning to make the image appear more film-like. I think it works. There are probably some good Lightroom presets out there to do the task -- but I'm cheap.

Which is better? I think I like the black and white better, but that might be because I saw the photographer and black and white master Alan Ross give a talk last week (he was also a former assistant to Ansel Adams) and I'm in awe of Ross' images. But I also showed both images to a friend who thought the color image was overall more striking -- I'm sure being closer to the water also helps.

Camera & Settings for black and white photo: Nikon D5100, Nikon DX 10-24mm at 19mm, ISO 100, 1/500 shutter speed, f/13, shot in RAW and processed in Lightroom. No tripod. 

Camera & Settings for color photo: Nikon D5100, Nikon DX 10-24mm at 24mm, ISO 100, 1/160 shutter speed, f/11, shot in RAW and processed in Lightroom. No tripod. 

Check out more of my work on my newly-redesigned SmugMug site (I blame SmugMug for any bugs). Follow me on Twitter

And, yes, prints and digital downloads of both photos above are for sale. Here's the link to purchase the black and white and here's the link for the color photo. An 8 x 12 print on paper with a metallic finish (which I recommend) is $10.95 plus shipping. There are other options, including ready-to-hang prints -- which are pricier. Thanks for looking! 


These photos are ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without my advanced written permission. All rights reserved. 

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