An icon, buried in the marine layer.
I dearly love to photograph, but as an amateur, I find my opportunities to focus on making images have to tessellate into the open spaces left in the normal course of life. Perhaps as a consequence, I’ve learned to love making a game of finding the remarkable features of unremarkable light.
The northern end of Marshall Beach is the most popular vantage point from which to capture the bridge. The photographs in this post were taken from a spot a bit further south as I hiked from the southern trailhead (where there is a path and stairs to the streets of San Francisco) towards some friends I was meeting nearer the bridge. A set of massive boulders lay along a curve in the beach and made something of an enclosed space.
To me, the grotto these stones formed was the vantage point from which to capture the bridge. It’s this spot that so accurately represents the experience of Marshall Beach, the San Francisco Bay Strait and the reason such a massive bridge is necessary to span what is, in reality, a narrow gap.
The Golden Gate is suspended from the rafters of the Earth, anchored by San Francisco in the south and Marin in the north, and dipped bodily into the oceanic atmosphere of our blue planet. Waves roll from above and from below. These narrow strips of land to which we cling are stalwart refuges from the storm, but cannot hold out forever. America ends on a wind-swept strand where stone and surf clash, the tell-tale signs of the fury buried, sinking and crumbling in the brine.
For me, the Golden Gate Bridge is almost never the subject of a photograph in which it’s featured – I’m far too much in love with the surrounding landscape: the rugged and beautiful reason for the bridge’s existence. In my favorite photographs of the bridge, it is off in the distance, a reminder of our human efforts to tame and conquer a wild land. In this little enclave of stones, where the surf severs the southern beach from the northern reaches, the oncoming chill of night, fog and tide were rolling in strong.
These stones, the bridge, and our footprints share the same end in cold sand and blue fog.