I have no idea how often you can find people surfing under the Golden Gate Bridge. In fact, I hadn’t planned on photographing surfers at all on this day, only the Bridge itself by the early mor ing light, but when opportunity presented itself, I jumped at the chance, with all lenses blazing.
This is an excellent location for photographing suffers for several reasons, the most obvious being that you can include one of the most iconic and photogenic landmarks of the western hemisphere in your surfing photos. There’s more to it than that however. The waves come in through the mouth of the bay, running along the shore instead of into the shore. This means that you can watch surfers as they travel past you, rather than towards you, and sometimes at fairly close distances.
On this day of accidental surfer photography I took many, many detailed images of surfers in action, and while many of them are great action photos, they only capture the water and the surfers, without really giving a sense of place, as this image does. While detail can be great, sometimes it is beast to zoom out and give the audience the landscape that it all occurs in. This can be true for both surfers and wildlife… And even wild flowers.
The surfer in this picture was not posing for me. He was just standing there contemplating the water before heading in, so I had to compose quickly before he moved. I tried to place the towers so that he and they echoed each other without lining up perfectly. I also made sure that the camera was in vertical orientation to not only capture the full height of the bridge, but also to continue the vertical flow. Neither of the towers is in the very middle of the frame, but placed in the left third and the right third of the image, with neither being too close to the edge.
The angle is wide, one that most cameras can also achieve be they SLR or compact digital(in this case 27mm). The aperture is stopped down about half way to give good depth of field, but not so much that it slows the shutter speed down to a point where it would blur the movement of the wave. All action is well frozen. There isn’t anything special about the making of this picture, except its location.