Well its that time of year again.  The beginning of fall is also the beginning of my annual blood pressure increase – due to the (healthy) stress of wanting to be everywhere at the same time.  The leaves are changing color, snow and rain are coming, and god sunsets start happening more regularly.  With so many locations coming into their prime time all at once, it can be really nerve wrecking trying to decide where to go.  This is also the time of year when sunrise occurs at a respectable hour so slumberous people like myself can actually get out of bed and catch some morning light. On the other hand Sunset is getting closer to the time 9-5’ers like me get off work and so battling rush hour traffic to get on location in time becomes a road raged fueled white-knuckle thrill ride though area freeways and back roads.  This past weekend the NWS-AFD was calling for low fog on Sunday morning by mid-day Saturday.  Getting up in time to shoot Low fog at the Golden Gate bridge during the summer months is just not something I’m motivated to do.  After reading the forecast I gladly set my alarm for the following morning….

First – Saturday night – working on another shot I recently discovered, the bridge was glowing beautifully as I packed up my gear, foreshadowing the following mornings conditions.

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As advertised the fog had arrived at the bridge before dawn – extremely low, but also very thin when I arrived about 45 minutes before sunrise. I shot the bridge from battery Spencer for a few minutes – along with a small crowd of about 10 others people.

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A close up of the north tower – crystal clear skies make for a gorgeous – glowing horizon

On the lower right you can see Vincent James photography -doing his thing, do yourself a favor and have a look at his wonderful work.

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Fog was thinning even more as sunrise was approaching – clearing out away from the bridge.  Never one to sit- still, I decided to have a go at another composition further up the road.  This other composition requires fog to be slightly higher than the bridge’s road deck at sunset, something I haven’t seen since 2014.  I was hoping conditions would be favorable to get the shot later in the evening and was curious to see what sunrise would look like.

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It’s a short steep and quick little hike down to this spot – but by the time I arrived the fog had really thinned out.  The sun was still not above the east bay mountains  and the light was golden with red-hues on the fog.  I watched this sailboat and others, make their way out of the gate – at one point some birds flew into my frame…_99A8481

Here is a multi-frame vertical panorama of my dream shot. So help me god I will check this off the list one day- next time fog is on the deck at sunset- this is where I’ll be.

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Making the much slower trek back up the mountain – it was very warm and I was sweating- stopping to catch my breath frequently.  Its amazing how quickly you can get out of shape.  One benefit of stopping to keep you heart inside of your chest- you notice things, like these shadows of the bridge..   _99A8502

By early afternoon the coast was clear, fog was no where near the bridge but starting to move into Half moon bay.  Wanting to avoid what I figured would be a parking nightmare with the Blue angels having just concluded their show I decided to leave a little early.  The fog was still nowhere near the bridge but I figured if it did show up late that would still work well for my intended shot- which is more of a blue hour shot anyway.  One last check of the visible Sat Loop and webcams suggest this was the case so I made the short 20 minute drive down to the bridge.

The thing about satellite images is that they are only updated a couple times an hour.  Much to my surprise the fog was back with a vengeance- and moving quick. My intended composition was buried in the white stuff along with much of lower Conzelman road. Despite the fog being below 1000 feet even Hawk hill had flow coming over it – a result of the very strong onshore push.

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I scrambled down the hill to get away from the fog and avoid the crowd of cameras – nothing personal I just feel distracted and a bit generic standing tripod to tripod.  At any right getting lower on the hill provided more foreground options.  I made a few quick panoramas

Vertical

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Horizontal

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Single Frame w/out ND filter
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Single frame with ND filter

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Long exposure of the north tower with fog swirling through.  wind was shaking my tripod but I found a large rock to crouch behind. _99A8593

It was a great sunset – interesting could were streaming overhead quickly in different areas- never really filling the while sky but making interesting explosions of color here and there as they changed shape and drifted by.

Here is a quick look back at the crowds atop hawk hill.

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the golden gate torch ….

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One last shot – I could see from my location that Battery Spencer was being covered by fog intermittently – allowing for a closer view of the north tower – I thought it would make a great bookend to this mornings session.  The wind was ripping – I had to brace my tripod to keep it from shaking, the fog making my jacket wet and I was concerned the lens was also getting moisture- as the fog moved through in waves the bridge was only visible for brief moments – a constantly changing scene.  after a few freezing minutes of watching the bridge play hide and seek with the fog the small group of people vanished and I was the only one left.  Wary of the recent robberies and attacks on photographers in and around San Francisco, I packed my gear and headed off.

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