How to Get the Shot: Golden Gate Bridge Between Two Trees
Photography Tips for the Golden Gate Bridge
There are endless views in the Bay Area to frame the Golden Gate Bridge in a photograph. On Instagram, vantage points between cypress trees on the western edge of the Presidio are catching hearts and racking up “double taps.”
Don’t take our word for it, check out these stellar shots from the photo-sharing social network.
Golden Gate Overlook trees
Battery Godfrey trees
We’ve identified and mapped out these two POVs for you to check out on your next visit to the Golden Gate. So grab your camera and hiking boots, here are some tips for making the most out of your trip:
How to get there
Please note some of the streets on the western side of the Presidio are closed to cars as part of a Slow Streets program, including Washington Blvd., Battery Caulfield Rd., and Park Blvd. Visit presidio.gov/slow-streets to view maps and updates for your visit.
By public transit
- Golden Gate Transit Route 70 will take you to the Golden Gate Bridge toll plaza.
- See more bus routes to the Presidio, including Muni Route 43.
- Take the FREE PresidiGo Hills Route from Presidio Transit Center on the Main Post.
- From Crissy Field, ride down Mason Street towards the Golden Gate Bridge. Before Planet Granite, take a left and then a right up a steep Crissy Field Ave. From the top of Crissy Field Avenue, merge onto the Battery East Trail and follow that around Battery East towards the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center. Stay on the Battery East Trail to pass underneath the famous span and merge onto the California Coastal Trail. From there, you can access the batteries on the southern side of the bridge.
- More bike trails in the Presidio.
- Closest parking lots are at Langdon Court Parking Lot or Battery Cranston Rd. Parking Lot.
Where to go
When you arrive at the westernmost side of the Presidio, here’s how to get to each viewpoint:
Golden Gate Overlook trees
From Langdon Court Parking Lot off Merchant Road, the Golden Gate Overlook is directly north of the lot. Take one of the short paths off the parking lot to access. To frame the shot, while looking north from Golden Gate Overlook, you’ll see a small flight of stairs parallel to the trees. Place yourself and your camera at the top or bottom of those stairs to perfectly frame the bridge between those looming trees.
To get another view, see instructions below.
Battery Godfrey trees
From the Langdon Court Parking Lot off Merchant Road, the trees you’re looking for are on the western side of the large concrete battery parallel to the lot. Take the closest trail from the parking lot and head toward the Pacific Ocean. You’ll see a concrete structure with stairs to access the bluffs above the batteries. Walk to the top of Battery Godfrey via those stairs to find a pair of Cypress trees.
When to go
- Peak hours are (surprise, surprise) during the weekend when visitors and locals converge on the natural splendor of the Presidio. If you can swing it, catch a mid-week sunset to escape the crowds.
- For the best photo with soft light, go during the “golden hour.” This term refers to the hour or so after sunrise or before sunset when the sunlight softens and showcases its red hues. Unless you have special filters or you are photographing with black and white prints in mind, try to avoid taking photos during the middle of the day. Why? Because when the sun is high in the sky, the light is harsh. And harsh light will “flatten” the subject of your photo.
- Bring a tripod to help stabilize your camera since it can be windy on the bluffs. Bring weighted bags to anchor your tripod from the wind (or clip/hang a bag with 5-10 lbs of items from the center of your tripod).
- Play with exposure and shutter speed (with the help of your tripod)! Shoot between 100-800 ISO to get those crisp shots of the light on the bridge transitioning to nighttime. Keep your ISO below 800 to reduce “noise” on the blacks in your photo.
- Clouds are a photographer’s “secret sauce.” They add a touch of drama to a photograph. Pay attention to the skies as you photograph. If you photograph right before a storm or right after (or during, if you have protective equipment), that’s when the clouds are the most visually stirring.
Other visitor tips
- Wear layers. It can be gusty on the bluffs.
- Bring water.
- Respect batteries that are blocked off (these areas are fragile habitats too!).
- Stay safe. Stay on marked trails and stay away from cliff edges.
- Want to make a day out of it? The Batteries to Bluffs Trail starts near the Langdon Court parking lot and meanders all the way to Baker Beach, and has some great photo spots of its own!
- If you have time, check out the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center for souvenir clothes, accessories, household items and more.