I’ve always loved getting different images and views that most people are unaccustomed to seeing. That is why on my latest adventure to San Francisco I decided to snap a few images of the city and bridges from above. When I say a few, I really mean about 4000 photos over the course of one sunset, and the concurrent sunrise.
Lets back up for a minute.
I’ve flown about 50 helicopter flights during the course of my professional career, over Miami, Fort Myers, Tampa, Orlando, and Alaska. Most of that work was for video projects, using gyros and nose-mounted cameras. My clients usually sit in the rear, advising and directing, but we all secretly know that it is the pilot who ultimately sets you up and gets the photographer into the correct position for the shot. All of the pilots that I have been fortunate enough to work with have been extremely professional, and experienced, especially my latest pilot.
Marc Fiedor was the pilot for both of these flights over San Francisco Bay. He works out of www.VerticalCFI.com, located in the Oakland area, and he is the real deal. Experienced, a great communicator, and probably the best controller I’ve ever used to get me into the right spot. I explained what I was looking for beforehand, and he obliged, setting me up perfectly each time, at one point he even offered to fly UNDER the Golden Gate Bridge! He knows the area better than most, the best times for images, and his experience really paid off for me on these flights. Thanks Marc, can’t wait to do it again, real soon.
Moving on…..Day 1.
The San Francisco Giants had just paved their way into the MLB World Series against the Kansas City Royals, and the entire town was painted or lit up with Orange and Black. Everywhere you looked, the city was gearing up for 3 straight days of games, unfortunately, so was the FAA. All flights over AT&T Park (baseball stadium) were restricted, my only hope of shooting the field was the day before the first home game was to take place. We took the opportunity to remove the doors on the chopper and left home base about 20 minutes before sunset. The fog and sun were perfectly placed as we flew overhead. My business partner Steve Kidd was strapped into the back of the ’44 and he shot a bunch with his new FujiXTI. He was on cloud 9.
The stadium was lit up like it was Christmas time, with the field workers painting the logos onto the well manicured grass, all in all, it made for some beautiful images. We then headed over the bay to the Golden Gate Bridge for a few circles, before flying back over the tallest buildings in S.F. The flight was magical, and the images simply kicked ass! We set down in pure blackness, I was so excited to see the results. I uploaded a few dozen to the APImages.com website, in hopes of highlighting the city and the park for their World Series coverage.
The next morning, at 4a.m. to be exact, I was back at it. I walked to the Powell Street BART station (the subway) and headed to West Oakland. Yup, that’s right, THAT Oakland, not the one that is located just 20 minutes from my house, but the Oakland where the Raiders live. Just 45 minutes later I was waiting outside in the barely lit parking lot for Marc to grab me and head off to the airport. I made a point to remind myself to take off the Giants cap on my head, just to steer clear of the Oakland A’s fans that were hanging in the lot and most likely cheering for Kansas City, they are a tough bunch I’ve been told.
The sky was a bright orange about 15 minutes before sunrise and the temperature had really dropped, this Florida boy was wearing blue jeans, a neck scarf and a jacket as the doors were once again off the bird.
The first thing I noticed as we passed the Oakland Coliseum was all of the stopped traffic on the roadways. Cars were moving 10 mph at best, it was very much like Interstate 4 in the Disney area, pure hell. The headlights were pretty bright, so I adjusted the ISO on both cameras to accommodate for the darkness.
We made our first pass over the city and the fog layer was almost nonexistent. The sun was beginning to peek out over the horizon and we were on the Marin Headlands side of the Golden Gate Bridge. When the bright orange ball was finally up, the entire skyline of San Francisco lit up like a camp fire. The ISO changed from 3200 all the way down to 640 in a matter of minutes, and the fog layer started to creep in. We flew over bridges and the TransAmerica building, watching as the workers looked at us from behind the glass of the highrise. The new Bay Bridge was golden in this light, and we rushed to catch it before the light changed to blue. Upon shooting back into the city from Oakland, there was time for one quick pass over the UC Berkeley campus.
The images I captured that day were beyond belief, and I can not wait to return there to shoot more aerials with Marc. You never know what the weather will be in that city, but regardless, the experience is always worth the risk.
All Images Copyright Alex Menendez- These are low quality for the BLOG post.
Licensing and prints from my site at: http://alexmenendez.photoshelter.com/archive