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Saturday, January 26, 2013

San Francisco Bay Bridge

I recently got back from a 5-day trip to the Bay Area, where, over the week-end, I was privileged to go shooting with a group of local photographers. Since I don't have much water here in NM, the thing I enjoyed the most was doing long exposures by the water.

I wanted to show you some examples of shots I took of the Bay Bridge. I do some editing, mainly I add contrast, lower highlights and tweak exposure as needed, but what makes these shots so different is the timing. As the light changes, so do the colors. I did use a graduated neutral density filter, which does not change the colors. All it does is darken the upper portion of the frame so that you can achieve a more uniform exposure (otherwise the sky would be too bright).

For me, the lesson learned here is that the best time to shoot is blue hour, right after sunset. And you have to be quick because the colors change by the minute. I've noted the time each shot was taken below. Which one do you like best?

Right after sunset, 5:32 pm:

5:33 pm:

5:39 pm:

5:47 pm:

5:54 pm:

Different day, much later: 6:44 pm. As you can see, the pastel colors are pretty much gone and all is left is yellow and blue-purple. I tried to fiddle with white balance, but got stuck with pretty much those colors. No filters here as it was already quite dark.

Much later at night, 12:56 am (in this one I switched to tungsten to drop the color temperature):

1 am (standard white balance, this time, but I tweaked temperature and tint):

I'm self-taught, so I'm learning all this stuff by myself (well, not quite, I'm learning from other photographers!). I welcome critique/tips/advice for next time. Thanks!


  1. a bit hard to choose ... I pick 5:39 pm (neat colors), and 12:56 am (color combination, patterns). Nice that you included info on time and filters.

  2. My wife like the first on, Right after sunset, 5:32 pm:. Mine is maybe 5:47 pm. I rather like the whole set as an interesting study in lighting and filters--each change evokes a different emotion--very nice.

  3. Thank you Hollis and Steve, I thought it was interesting to see how the light changed as the minutes went by. And it's true, every color evokes a different feeling, so it really depends on what one wants to convey.

    Thanks for your feedback!


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