Cities - Josh Smith
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Birthday Girl

Birthday Girl

For most people living in the SF Bay Area, the Golden Gate Bridge is one of those beautiful things that always takes our breath away, no matter how many times you can see it. For photographers, it holds an even deeper appreciation as we both love the challenge and beauty and hate frustration of not getting "the shot". Interestingly, despite living only 30 minutes from San Francisco, I first learned about the 75th Birthday of the Golden Gate Bridge while reading the Alaska Airlines magazine on the way home from my trip to Kauai. The plan was to honor the Golden Gate Bridge with a day of festivities and a fireworks display to finish off the birthday celebration.

There were a lot of decisions that went into trying to capture the GGB fireworks: which side of the bridge do I want to be on, which location on that side of the bridge, how are we going to get there, how early do we get there, do I try to meet up with other photographers, etc. I know that I wanted to be on the Marin side, placing the San Francisco city lights in the background, and that I wanted to be high up, above any fog that might roll in.

After emails went around with a number of photographers it sounded like a good number of us would be at Slacker Hill. I ended up meeting up with Wilson Ng and my buddy Zack and we left my apartment almost 11 hours before the fireworks were set to go off! We didn't know what parking would be like and we didn't want to risk missing the show! The drive to Slacker Hill was actually quite easy, despite a small detour after finding the main road up was closed. Parking was also easy at that hour: people were coming and going and spots opened up immediately. We huffed and puffed with all our gear: cameras, tripods, food, chairs, beers, extra clothes, etc, and got to the top. Shortly after we arrived, Jave, Alan, and Jared showed up and decided to grill up some amazingly delicious hot-dogs while we waited. A number of other guys, some from a G+ group, also showed up, and then went off in search of greener pastures.

As we waited a number of people noticed there was a bunker a bit closer to the Bridge. off they went to check it out, and when they came back, half the photographers with us took off for the bunker. Shortly after that Alan and Jared decided they were gonna head there to. After a long debate I decided to join them and raced off after them. So much for Slacker Hill! This spot, which was closer to the bridge and further to the west had a better vantage of the city, but it was also more susceptible to fog and was an unknown, as none of us had shot it. An hour and a half more of waiting, a beer run back up the super steep hill, and some more waiting and the show finally began!

Boy were the fireworks incredible! Not only did they launch from a barge, but they also launched from above and below the bridge! It was quite the spectacular show and a fitting way to celebrate the Golden Gate's 75th birthday! The Golden Gate Bridge is near and dear to many of us -- we've had some wonderful times, and some frustrating times with her, but like me, many of us continue to have our breaths taken away each time we see her. Happy Birthday old girl!

Nikon D700 w/Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S:
40mm, f/9, 3.3 sec, ISO 200, Tripod

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