I have seen some truly amazing photos of the Golden Gate Bridge, but one stood out and so much I had to catch up with the artist to learn more.
Michael Shainblum started taking photos when he was young. He picked up a camera and fell in love the very first day. It wasn't long before photography was his favorite thing to do and a daily adventure. The reason was simple. It was so much fun to capture images and a very satisfying creative outlet. Years later, the main driving force every time he picks up the camera and heads out has not changed. It is his true passion and he enjoys every second.
Shainblum is a photographer who knows the famous Golden Gate Bridge well having shot it over a hundred times from many different vantage points. One day, an idea for a special kind of shot popped in to his head. This idea involved getting the bridge with a number of lightning strikes in the frame. There is no doubt it would take a lot of patience. There were a number of unsuccessful attempts leading up to the evening his dream photo was finally realized. He remembers many nights feeling discouraged after getting no shots and arriving home cold and wet. It took about five years before the right conditions presented themselves.
Luckily for Shainblum, on that night there would be a lightning display to remember. The shots were all taken from a classic and even popular location, but the wide point of view and the high angle were perfect to capture the impressive lightning bolts. While the time-lapses ran Shainblum and a few other photographers at the scene watched and yelled in joy as they witnessed strike after strike over an awesome three hour period.
Shainblum's technique to capture the lightning involves setting up a time-lapse remote trigger on continuous and using long exposures. He has been shooting lighting for over 10 years after capturing his first successful strike at La Jolla Shores in San Diego, California. He calls himself lucky to have witnessed a number of great storms over the years, but I call him determined and driven to be there photographing them.
Unless you are blessed with cover to shoot from, shooting storms involves a lot of wetness. Shainblum recommends using a Rocket Blower and relies on it as his go-to tool for removing water from the lens. It can be done from the side without impeding on the image and there are no smudges or risks fogging. You can see in the time-lapse above that some droplets popped into some of the frames and then went away. Shainblum said he had to blow off the lens almost every minute for this shot.
The final image is composed of 30 of the best exposures stacked and blended into one. While some shoots require a good amount of time to go through and can remain unfinished for years, the excitement of finally getting these shots helped it all come together quickly. As you can see, the end result is quite a treat for the eyes. In my opinion, it is truly a next level photo. And by the sounds of the time and effort that went into it, I can safely say the photographer deserved the rewards of such a memorable shot.
While Shainblum admits he prefers shooting in places a bit less traveled and more remote, this shot was on his bucket list since the day the idea was born. Five years later he was just so happy to get this shot and says it is a night shooting he will never forget. Earlier in the night, there was heavy fog cover and it looked like the lightning strikes would once again elude him. He did not give up and got the shot of a lifetime. We could all learn something from his perseverance.
All images used with permission by Michael Shainblum.