Surfing under the Golden Gate Bridge: An Essay in Photos

Standing under the Golden Gate, studying the waves

Standing under the Golden Gate, studying the waves

I headed over to the south side of the Golden Gate Bridge early one morning, just to photograph this iconic bridge from an angle I haven’t experienced as often, and was surprised to find many people surfing. It is a rather unique spot, as the surfers head parallel to the shore, rather than just approaching a beach. This allows for some great surf photography options, that you can’t get while standing on most beaches. It’s closer to what you can see in surfing magazines, where photographers climb into their own wetsuits and sit out there in the water with their pricy underwater housings, bobbing up and down with the surfers (which definitely holds its own charms and joys)… except much dryer. Having people surf along the shoreline instead of towards it allows for angles and a closeness that we often can’t get. By accident I found my favorite spot to photograph surfers from shore.

Every now and then the surf would carry someone to where the rising sun would backlight the wave

Every now and then the surf would carry someone to where the rising sun would backlight the wave

And so it was, (as can often be the case) that while I came to photograph one thing, another caught my eye and I became caught up in the joy of photographing something new. I was getting some of the angle I had always wanted for photographing surfers. There was a big, instantly recognizable icon that I could include in some of my images. I was shooting in an interesting local and could occasionally include some interesting backgrounds to create a story through images that gave a sense of place. I had opportunity for different light, without having to move far… In short, I was in a sort of photographer’s nirvana. I hope you enjoy some of these photographs even half as much as I enjoyed creating them.

The angle was fantastic for capturing the action

The angle was fantastic for capturing the action

I used one of these images for an Anatomy of a Photo: Surfer and Bridge post, and I think I will use another one or two, as they are rather fun.

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About Galen Leeds Photography

Nature and wildlife photographer, exploring the world on his feet and from his kayak. Among other genres, he is one of the leading kayak photographers in Northern California. To learn more about him, visit him on his website-
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8 Responses to Surfing under the Golden Gate Bridge: An Essay in Photos

  1. sean elizabeth says:

    especially the back lit one.

  2. Vicki says:

    Me also…I especially like the back lit one.
    Fun time!

  3. beachmama says:

    I love the perspective of the surfer under the bridge. I took some shots from the bunkers a few weeks ago. Seeing your images spurs me to want to go back when I can spend the day shooting.

    I love shooting from my kayak. It’s given me some tools to shoot stills and great video of skiers from a friends ski boat. Of course I don’t know how brave I’ll be when I finally get my ‘big girl’ camera ; )

    I truly enjoy your blog but life got a bit crazy and I haven’t taken a look for a while. Glad I stopped over. It was good to meet you (last night). Exciting things in the works for our coastline . . .

    • Thanks. It was very nice meeting you as well. I can place you much better now, through your online persona, and now I know where I recognized you from. You’ll have fun with your new camera, just take it in baby steps, and make sure you are comfortable when you take it out. Wait for the right conditions. If you aren’t comfortable, you won’t have fun kayaking or taking pictures, and having fun is what it should be all about.

  4. ingrid says:

    Fantastic series! As others have said, I also love the backlit shot, but this whole post takes me back to days at home, hanging out under the bridge and taking in the sea spray, kite surfers and container ships traversing the Golden Gate.

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