“Fog Creates Opportunity for Stunning Photo of Milky Way Above Golden Gate Bridge.”


“Photographer Michael Shainblum achieved the seemingly impossible, capturing a photo of both the Golden Gate Bridge and the Milky Way together, despite heavy light pollution.”

“It requires tremendous determination to venture out into the night and patiently wait for hours to capture a landscape scene that may or may not turn out as planned. Shainblum aimed to blend several iconic elements into a single photo, but achieving the perfect alignment was a gamble. Until now, the idea of capturing both stars and the bridge together seemed like a distant dream.”

“But he was incredibly fortunate, as he encountered ideal conditions that made it all possible.”

“While he had previously captured fog in various settings, including forests and high mountain areas, this time, he successfully combined the well-lit Golden Gate Bridge with the typically unseen Milky Way galaxy in a single photograph.”

“Typically, trying to photograph stars in the San Francisco Bay area is challenging, and capturing the Milky Way there is exceedingly rare. Shainblum shared with us that he had visited the location many times before but rarely saw any stars because of the significant light pollution in the area.”

“I believe this was a perfect combination of several factors,” he elaborates. “The fog was dense and low, effectively shielding the city’s light pollution. Additionally, the fog extended far enough inland to cover most of the eastern bay. The presence of clouds over the eastern side near the cities might have contributed as well. Lastly, it was the right time of night and season. I captured the Milky Way late at night as it moved across the western sky, away from the city.”

“To create this photo, Shainblum captured two rows of horizontal shots, which he later combined during post-processing. While he wasn’t sure if it would turn out well at the time of capture, he was delighted with the final result, given the unusual conditions. In the image, the warmly lit bridge tower peeks out slightly from the dense fog on the left, while the blue Milky Way provides a striking contrast on the other side of the frame.”

“The single photo wasn’t the only shot he took that night. Shainblum also captured a ‘classic view’ of the iconic bridge, a favorite among photographers. In this composition, he included both bridge towers emerging from the gentle fog that blanketed the scene, along with the light trails of cars traveling on the road.”

“To capture various patterns of fog and different car light trail variations, Shainblum took multiple exposures and crafted a photo that showcased colorful contrasts between the warm and cool tones.”

“The Milky Way shining over the hill deserved its own photo. Not expecting such a photo opportunity, Shainblum emphasizes that photographers should seize the moment when it arises, even if it means deviating from their original plan.”

“Right before wrapping up for the day, Shainblum captured a few more long exposures of the bridge tower and the fog drifting through the gate, creating a simple and minimalist scene.”

“For photographers interested in capturing the Milky Way, Shainblum suggests checking the weather beforehand, such as on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website. He also recommends monitoring the moon phase using the PhotoPills app and checking for light pollution in the area.”

“When it comes to equipment, Shainblum advises bringing a tripod and a wide lens, like a 14mm-24mm full-frame lens, with an aperture of f/2.8 or wider. Additionally, having a headlamp is useful, especially if your phone’s battery runs out.”

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