Silicon Valley, center of IT. I also have an office there. A small beautiful city in the north west California, also the hub of world Information Technology. I came here for 4 days work. Since I reached here, I had this idea in my mind. I have to shoot the Golden Gate Bridge at night. I think it is the first time I ever pre-imagined or dreamed about a shot, I enjoyed the pressure, pain and thrill of it.
April 10, Wednesday, I chose the last night of my trip for the adventure. Though I thought I could finish all my work by 5:00 PM, as usual i managed to get myself freed up only by 5:30. Next question was about travel. Shall I rent a car or take the public transport. Finally I bit the bullet. Go for the public transport. Though car is a wise choice in the state of California, I selected the thrilling version. Yes I needed a change.
The Caltrain station is near to my office, just cross the parking lot and street. I reached the station by 5:40 PM. Took a one day pass from the ticket vending machine. I can travel between Silicon Valley and San Francisco as many times I need in one day. Exactly as announced the the train reached platform at 5:58 PM. A double Decker limited stop one. Not much of any rush. I placed my self in an upper seat in an empty corner. The train goes through city and main residential places, so not much of beautiful views outside. But still it was a calm ride.
As shown in time table the train reached San Francisco city station at 7:01 PM. I already had the map and travel route printed out from office. Now I have to catch the No. 30 bus. After 15 minute one came in front of the station. I tried to board but the driver didn't let me. It was a stop to get people off. The boarding stop is the next one after crossing the street. Anyway he let me in, and asked me to get out at the stop. There is a break of 15 minutes. By that time few people gathered at the stop. They may be regular travelers and were patiently waiting for the bus to start. I got a bit relieved seeing that. The next lug of journey has started in 15 minutes. I told the driver about my target and he promised me that he will let me know where to get off.
After about 30 minutes of ride, the bus left heart of the city and reached some suburb. Driver announced to catch the No.28 bus from the stop. I got off and guessed that it would be only 10-15 minutes away. Got a cab and in 10 minutes I reached the south (City End) of the bridge. The Vista point had few tourists taking pictures. The weather was windy and chilly. An Asian girl asked for help to get a picture of her bringing the bridge in background. I got her camera and took a picture. We both were happy.
Golden Gate Bridge. It is an important icon of modern America. One of the new Technological wonders. It is one of the most captured bridges by photographers. With it's 25 meters width and 2.7 KM length, it is a big bridge connecting San Francisco city to Pacific Ocean and Marin County. The bridge is made of steel in a hanging bridge engineering style. There is an average of 110,000 vehicle traffic per day through this bridge. Apart from this it has a bicycle and pedestrian path. The main traffic has 3-4 lanes on each direction. During winter season the pedestrian path closes at 9:00 PM. It is already past 8:30 and I have no way to reach the other side which is my ultimate target. The high hilly Vista point on the north side is what I am here for. I waited for a cab but none was there. Finally a police car came, a young smart San Francisco officer in it. I asked him for some tips to get to the other side. He thought for a while, radioed and finally I heard the words of relief with a bit of dis-belief. "Come one, I will give you a ride". This was the first ride in a police car in the US. He took me to the north side Vista point and explained the route to the hill. It is through under the bridge. There were few vehicles and tourists there too. I thanked him and walked to the edge to get some pictures.
Then I started my little trekking to the high point. Crossed the bridge and I was on a hilly road. After almost a kilometer of steep climb, I reached a point where a narrow path leads to the high point from the road. It was dark and I was all alone. I walked with the help of my mobile flash light. The trekking at night 10:00 PM, all alone made me really adventurous and happy. This is me, I came for this. By the time I reached my target, I forgot all my tiredness. The beautiful long bridge is in front of me, covered in light. The San Francisco city is just behind. I felt the thrill and joy of adventure.
The tripod is set, camera is mounted and I adjusted the Aperture, Shutter speed and focus. It may be a once in a life time chance for me. Everything should be as perfect as possible. I started to shoot. If you could shoot a bunch of pictures, there could be few that would turn really good. A common photographers rule. After 15 minutes of shooting, I took a view at the preview screen. Yes, I also got some. Honestly, couple of great pictures I have ever taken.
I got another cab in few minutes and reached back the Cal train station. It was 11:20 PM and the last train leaves at 12:01. I waited till 11:50 and then they opened the gate to platform. I boarded the train, got an empty seat in the upper compartment. The train will reach Sunnyvale by 1:25. I got enough time to copy my pictures to computer and process few of them.
And finally I was at the Sunnyvale station. It was 1:30 in the night, while walking back to the hotel, I looked back the train leaving me behind for a while. Yes, I need to come back again. The journeys should be never ending and the pictures from them should tell a thousand stories...