Thread the Needle

Thread the Needle

Christmas time in SF means a couple special things for us photographers: The Beacon is lit atop the Transamerica Building and 17,000 lights outline the four Embarcadero Center buildings. Because of this I had 2 shots I really wanted to take: 1) the SF skyline from Treasure Island, under the bay bridge (see previous photo), and 2) Thread the Needle — the Transamerica Beacon taken through the north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge. Having already shot the skyline from Treasure Island I needed to go back and get The Beacon in the GGB.

I convinced my friend Zack to leave work and drive up to SF with me. Luckily the traffic was pretty light and we made it to Marin in plenty of time to setup and wait for the blue hour. Zacks D70x wasnt really working so I leant him my D300s while I used the D700. Having been here before I knew that I really wanted 300mm on a DX body so I was going to have to hope that my 70-300mm lens on the D700 would be good enough and I could just crop it. Unfortunately, the 70-300mm is not exactly the best lens, produces ugly lightstars and didnt take very good pictures. Just as blue hour (or the 5 minutes of it) hit, I asked Zack to switch lenses and borrowed his 80-200 f/2.8 lens, which was MUCH better.

I tried numerous different compositions, and I even have the typical close crop of this but ultimately I liked including the bridge in this photo. I think it shows more of the scene and puts a little more focus on San Francisco as opposed to a tighter cropping focusing on the beacon. We call this threading the needle because the Beacon, which looks like a needle, fits perfectly in the north tower of the GGB. Note that the photo may looks like its not properly leveled because the bridge appears to go up in the photo I assure you that this photo is actually level (and I even double checked before/after I took the photo), its just an illusion due to the angle the photo was taken.

Nikon D700 w/Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D ED AF
155mm, f/11, ISO 250, 30 sec, Tripod

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Aaron M Written by:

Aaron Meyers is a landscape and wedding photographer living in Silicon Valley, CA. His love of the outdoors makes for frequent forays into the Californian wilds, where he delights in the stunning vistas of Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Big Sur, and the Pacific Coast.

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