I love scenic photography from out in the wild in spaces that feel almost untouched by man. Here in Montana I have plenty of opportunities to photograph such vistas and I cherish them. But I also love when art and architecture combine and add to the landscapes. I love to photograph buildings that fit their location so perfectly that you can’t imagine the space without them. Or exquisite masonry that adds a touch of elegance along a winding highway. Fountains and other water features are also favorites of mine. But of all of these human touches the ones I love best are always bridges.
Bridges to my mind are simultaneously symbols of journeys and connections. There is something hopeful about bridges. And there is also something powerful about them. I am no engineer, but the technology and math and philosophy that makes them work fascinates me. I don’t know the hows and whys that make the bridges work, but I realize that every time I go out on one it is an act of faith.
On Sunday I got the opportunity to photograph a bridge I have dreamed of for years. My cousin Kimberly was in California for a conference in Napa. That is as geographically near by as we have been in about four years. We couldn’t miss this chance to see each other so Friday afternoon I headed down to Oakland to rent a car and drive up to Napa. The trip was so worthwhile on many levels, but for the photographer in me the real treat was Sunday after her conference was over and she and I drove west to Highway 1 to see the sea and to cross the Golden Gate Bridge.
For a while the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world. I’ve seen and envied photographs of the bridge peaking out of dense fog, or lit up in rays of sunrise. It’s beautiful. I have been wishing to photograph the Golden Gate for years. And finally, finally, on Sunday evening I got my chance.
Highway 1 is beyond question the curviest road I have ever been on. I don’t get motion sickness, but after that road, I can certain understand where motion sickness comes from. My father had a description for roads like that. He would say it’s the kind of road that must have been “designed by a drunken architect following a sick cow.” We headed south from Bodega Bay through mostly farm country until we finally got to Stinson Beach and saw the Pacific. I love the Pacific Ocean. I love the way the giant waves crash in with such power and intensity. Kimberly and I walked a little ways out onto the beach, but not far, we knew we needed to keep going if we were going to reach the Golden Gate when it was still daylight.
As it turns out, we could not have planned our arrival any better if we’d spent hours checking websites, sunset apps, and googling locations. The clouds in the sky were just turning pink and the sun was sinking fast, but we had enough time to catch a scenic vista on the West side, to cross the bridge twice, and then to catch the last of the light at another lookout stop from the East.
Whenever I get to photograph things like this I turn into a bit of a kid in a candy shop. I’m very serious and I keep myself calm and thinking. Always thinking. What shots can I get? What angles? How can I do this differently? How can I make my images a cut above? But inside, I’m joyful. I feel the happiness in my heart as I am getting to see something wonderful and take it in and make it my own. Everything I photograph becomes part of me. Part of my story. Part of my life. Now when I think of the Golden Gate bridge it isn’t someone else’s images I’ll be thinking of. Now I’ll think of these, of that awesome night when Kim and I got to chase the light and watch wide-eyed as one of the wonders of the world was put on display for us.
I didn’t get to go into San Francisco and I still want to go back and explore that city. But for now, I look back at this weekend knowing I am never going to forget this trip. I am never going to forget that sunset. And Kim, I am never going to be able to say thank you enough for making this possible. Much love cuz. : ) Grazie millie! And thanks for taking the picture of me — that is usually what is missing in my travel pix. Tons of photos of where I am and none of me because I am always behind the lens.