San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge in the Fog360° Aerial Panorama

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I've been waiting for this photo shoot for a long time... Perhaps even my whole life. Over the past 20 years and despite numerous visits, I haven't seen the Golden Gate Bridge covered in fog. For me, it has been quite an unlucky streak. According to my photography colleagues, they were not lucky either. But why? The location of the bridge is unique: it was built where the frigid water of the Pacific Ocean collides with the warmer water of the bay all year around. Along with the winds and other atmospheric phenomena it should create foggy and cloudy weather frequently. However, it doesn't and it actually happens very rarely. For a Russian photographer, who doesn't live in the city but only visits it time to time, it would be extremely lucky to catch this fog even during the right season.

It was September — the fog season. It took me 10 days to negotiate with a rental company, where I was going to hire a helicopter for an aerial photography. The main reason for their delays was the fog itself — helicopter pilots don't like limited visibility. They prefer a clear sky — a complete opposite from what I was looking for. There was another complication: I spent the entire week before the scheduled flight in one of the Nevada deserts with poor mobile phone reception. I received their confirmation a day before the flight: "We can fly, as long as there is no fog and strong winds :)". We agreed to start an hour before the sunset.

And so today I drove to the helicopter, which was waiting for me 30 miles away from San Francisco. However, evening rush hour slowed me down as I got into every possible traffic jam on the way out of the city, and so I arrived at the meeting place much later than our scheduled flight time, even though I left an hour beforehand.

The pilot didn't look like he was in a hurry either... It seemed to me that everything was moving in a slow motion: here we were getting in the cabin, here the propeller started to rotate, faster and faster, here we were ascending, giving the way to a Boeing plane, and finally the downtown skyscrapers appeared ahead of us... It is a challenge to photograph San Francisco in the evening, because the city is blocked by hills from the west. The hills shelter the city from direct contact with the Pacific Ocean, and this is why darkness descends on San Francisco 20 minutes before the sunset... "That's it, — I thought as I looked at my watch, at the city in the distance and the setting sun. — My photo shoot is over. I am too late..." But suddenly I realized — there was still a chance!

I saw the tops of skyscrapers shining with gold, the bay was subtly lit, and an incredible fog was shimmering with red hues of the setting sun. The fog, which I had been waiting for over 20 years, was streaming down from the Russian Hills to dissolve into the city. I was so mesmerized with this view that I almost forgot about the photo shoot. I asked the pilot to hover as I took a few panoramic shots over the downtown and then told him to head to the Golden Gate Bridge. But nothing happened. The pilot pronounced two magic words "THE FOG" and continued maneuvering above skyscrapers. The bridge was indeed covered with fog; but not completely — luckily, one half of it was still visible.

Golden Gate bridge

Copyright: Allan Smorra, www.ohmsweetohm.me  

"Take me there" — I pointed to the bridge. But the pilot continued saying something about the wind and the turbulence and above all else, passenger safety... I ended up alleviating his concern for my "safety" by paying him an additional $100.00 in cash. "Ok, I'll take you there but you have to shoot fast. And not under the bridge" — that was the pilot's condition. "Under the bridge... It's a good idea! Perhaps I'll photograph it next time. But today I need to shoot OVER the bridge" — I replied as the pilot changed our circular trajectory and headed towards the bridge. 

We finally made it to the bridge. The helicopter was flying over the cloud that was flowing though the bridge's two towers. The top of one tower was lit by the setting sun while the haze covered the rest of it below. The top of the second tower was still visible but already in the shade. All this beauty was surrounded by a mass of shimmering fog rolling from the Pacific Ocean... The sun was almost touching the slope of the hill with only a few minutes left before the final sunset... The helicopter hovered near the bridge; I leaned outside and quickly shot the spherical panorama over the lit tower. But as I started shooting the second one, the sun hid behind the hill. I turned to the pilot, waved my hand up, and shouted, gesturing to take the helicopter higher. He didn't understand me asking something in respond. "Go, Go! Take us higher" — I shouted in Russian, pointing to the place where the sun was a moment ago. Suddenly he understood me and quickly pushed on some pedals — perhaps, gas — the helicopter vibrated and started ascending. And there was a "Wow! moment" — we slowly overtook the setting sun. It appeared again, and even though the whole city and the bridge was already in the shade, the fog was once again covered with gold and shimmery sparkles. I started shooting without waiting for the helicopter to stop, thinking that it might be my last panoramic photo of the day, in hopes that our guys would be able to stitch it later somehow. My camera finished full 360° circle, and with the last click of the shutter the sun finally left the city of San Francisco... I wiped off the sweat from my forehead. I did it! I've been waiting for this moment for 20 years — and now I finally did it!

You can view this aerial panorama here.

Here are some interesting facts about the Golden Gate Bridge, and one more panoramic view of the bridge and the kitten that I photographed in 2008. 

Shooting by Dmitry Moiseenko

2 October 2011

Comments




2014-03-24 14:39:59    
  5 from 5

"super !"

michel taccoen, France

2014-02-07 18:54:07    
  5 from 5

"IT IS WONDERFUL, I VISITED SAN FRANCISCO MANY TIMES, ALWAYS I WENT TO THIS MARVELOUS BRIDGE.YOU HAVE EXCELLENT PHOTOS.
THANK YOU"

RONALD BARAHONA, Honduras

2014-01-18 03:25:26    
  5 from 5

"fantsticas imgenes. . . .SUPER."

MARIO RODRIGUEZ, Mexico

2013-12-20 19:44:07    

"Thanks to my nephew and family who lived in SF. I got the opportunity of going through GG in 1994"

Chitra de Silva, Sri Lanka

2013-10-23 16:17:33    

"very good scene. I like it."

Albert Sequeira, India

2013-10-23 12:02:56    
  1 from 5

"I had the opportunity to visit this engineering marvel,wonderful."

Ramachandraiah Narayanappa, India

2013-10-15 13:38:20    
  3 from 5

mani keyvan, Iran

2013-09-11 08:53:24    
  5 from 5

"very goooooood....
ZENDE BAD KERMANSHAH 19"

MOHAMMAD NIAZI, Iran

2013-05-28 04:32:35    
  5 from 5

"Beautiful a feat of engieering."

Roger Lee, Australia

2013-04-28 23:43:38    
  5 from 5

"Excelente!"

alberto rodrguez, Spain

2013-04-26 20:09:39    
  5 from 5

"simply worderful. You made me feel as if I was back in my beloved Frisco."

Loreto Guridi, Chile

2013-02-21 18:48:56    
  5 from 5

"Having been to a lot of places you photographed I appreciate the fabulous job you did with your cameras. I think maybe you will do a lot for tourism. Thank you"

Roger Meakes, United Kingdom

2013-02-07 12:36:47    
  5 from 5

"Awesome... sakkath,"

Arjun Kumar, India

2013-01-17 22:41:23    
  5 from 5

"Diese Bilder sind so fantastisch, dass ich mich nicht satt sehen konnte. Vielen Dank"

Heidi Beuret, Switzerland

2012-11-17 20:56:25    
  5 from 5

"J'ai vu ce panorama depuis un bteau de croisire ainsi que des bernaches duCanada durant le dner: impressionnant!"

Gilles Lonard, Canada

2012-11-17 20:51:53    
  5 from 5

Gilles Lonard, Canada

2012-11-02 17:16:55    
  5 from 5

"Prachtige niet alledaagse opnamen.
Hernieuwde kennismaking , maar dan anders als "normaal""

john hanegraaf, Netherlands

2012-10-03 21:35:51    
  5 from 5

"la magia de las fotografias son los instantes en que las puede ver y capturar lo demas es s superfulo es el instante"

jose maximo sanchez aranda, Mexico

2012-09-10 03:51:42    
  1 from 5

"you are a mad russian .....a nut to risk your life for this photo...its not that important"

wynn hammer, USA

2012-09-07 07:56:55    
  5 from 5

"Wonderful place to view..."

pallavi saxena, India

2012-08-15 07:36:21    
  5 from 5

"what to say? no description req. just fantastic.
when i saw this one,i was in trance. i forgot, that i am looking at what?"

drsuryakant vora, India

2012-08-13 12:45:48    
  5 from 5

"I lived in Marin County in the late 60s, early 70s and I commuted into downtown
SF for five years. I played a game with the fog ... would it be high (not
able to see the towers) or low (I'd drive in pea soup). But your photography
is unbelievable! Makes me want to move back west!"

Gertrude Sandor, USA

2012-08-12 13:52:03    
  5 from 5

"Fantastic. Wonderful What. A. Breath. Taking. Views
Of. A. Big. World. Thank. You"

queeniesmalley@bigpond.com Smalley, Australia

2012-08-10 14:39:58    
  5 from 5

"the best pano site on the web, with an excellent presentation. KRpano is a powerful tool, the stiching SW looks like PTGui Pro with some minor sky problems - well done guys !"

Michael Ammel, France

2012-08-09 01:45:41    
  5 from 5

richard oconnor, Australia

2012-08-04 23:08:08    
  5 from 5

"This is a beautiful site"

Lynn Joseph Stephenson, Canada

2012-08-04 12:03:40    
  5 from 5

"Brought back wonderful memories of crossing GG in June 1991 Superb photography, thanks."

John Wood, United Kingdom

2012-08-04 06:17:12    
  5 from 5

"I LIKE, GOOD JOB"

ALFONSO BENITEZ, Mexico

2012-08-01 20:55:34    

""fantastic picture""

Raju Malloocheril, USA

2012-07-29 10:34:12    

"I lived in SF for years in the 80s and worked as a tour guide.The GGB is often covered totaly in fog, mostly in the summer months and this we call California,s natural air conditioning. Also there is no such thing as "Russian Hills", only an area called Russian Hill which sits beside Nob Hill and on the other side of the tunnel from Chinatown. Many times the only part of the bridge to be seen is the two towers. The Golden Gate Bridge is not the golden gate bridge but rather the bridge that spans the Golden Gate and its colour is International Orange, just some trivia for you.. nice shots though but to play Tony Bennett singing I left my heart in SF would have been so much better."

Andrew Blackadder, United Kingdom

2012-07-27 18:54:27    
  5 from 5

"you forget mexico but i must say is awosome fantastic pictures congratulations Anna marco from cabo san lucas mexico"

marco cota, Mexico

2012-07-27 00:20:25    
  5 from 5

"I AM CUBAN OF MIAMI, AND WANT TO GIVE THANKS TO THIS COMPANY FOR ITS WORRIES TO ENJOY LIFE OF PEOPLE...AT LEAST I AM ENJOING EACH ONE OF THIS FILM"

guillermo garcia, USA

2012-07-26 23:02:23    
  3 from 5

"The sensitivity of descending through the clouds was missing."

Robert Lambert, Belgium

2012-07-22 09:25:12    
  5 from 5

"super, very,very,very nice.excelent,Thank You."

srinivas gundu, India

2012-07-20 19:00:03    
  5 from 5

"Great Job. I felt as if I was in Golden Bridge."

Krishnakumar Narayanaswamy, India

2012-07-18 12:27:37    
  5 from 5

"superb, u done a great job"

hari krishna, India

2012-07-17 13:18:39    
  5 from 5

"Really fantastic. nice to see such s wonderful and awesom views."

Mamta Sunaram, India

2012-07-14 23:42:51    
  4 from 5

"Truly beautiful! I'd just like to add that on June30, 2012, my daughter, son-in-law and I sailed a 40 foot sailboat through the Golden Gate, under full sail. The bridge was completely fogged in---we could barely make it out as we sailed under, but just beyond, on the East side, we broke out of the fog bank and there was San Francisco, framed between the dark water of the bay below and a band of fog that hovered just above the tops of the buildings of downtown. The City itself was bathed in soft evening alpenlight, giving it a subtle golden glow.
It was one of the most beautiful sights I have had the distinct pleasure of witnessing.
This was one of the biggest thrills this 78 year-old man has ever seen. Too bad a photographer with real skill could not have captured it. It was truly remarkable, and breathtaking."

Ron Weinert, USA

2012-07-11 17:37:36    
  5 from 5

"You have to be a dedicated photographer and a lover of what our world has to show those who cannot travel. Great shots and fantastically beautiful. Keep going and continue giving us more of this great shows. Those of us who have been to some of the places you show are electrified."

Tony Campos, Australia

2012-07-06 19:05:52    
  5 from 5

"Had the priviledge of visting just in week-1 of Jluy2012.It is a fantastic wonder of engineering world!!"

Ravi Patankar, India

2012-07-06 06:29:56    
  5 from 5

"Thank you for this awesome visual experience! Splendid indeed. Keep up the great work and be safe."

Krishna Saha, New Zealand

2012-07-06 05:26:58    
  5 from 5

"Abs amazing just visited in April 2012, but had not realized till such time i saw your amazing video what a work of marvel it is.
love you tons for sharing it."

dr. parul Bhatnagar, India

2012-07-03 02:44:13    
  2 from 5

"Maybe it's just me, based upon your perfect ratings. But a panoramic view of clouds is not what I want to see when viewing the Golden Gate Bridge. I want to see the journey, the roads, the destinations."

Al Stel, USA

2012-07-02 16:59:20    
  5 from 5

"Simply out of the world.....so serene and Magnanimous..!! Thank you very much for the wonderful panoramic view."

VIJAY AGASHE, India

2012-06-30 02:03:44    
  5 from 5

"Great views of the Golden Gate Bridge. All of your panoramas that I have viewed have been awesome."

Dale Myers, USA

2012-06-30 01:00:46    
  5 from 5

"As a former San Franciscan, thank you for the most beautiful reverie."

Nancy Collins, USA

2012-06-27 08:40:11    
  5 from 5

Ella Roberts, USA

2012-06-25 18:08:43    
  1 from 5

"very nice photo ever seen"

krishna murthy, India

2012-06-23 23:04:56    
  5 from 5

"It's spectacular. It's something out of imagination. Thank you."

Hassan Ghazi, Iran

2012-06-18 02:29:26    
  5 from 5

"Mind Blowing! Kermit"

Kermit Karns, USA

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