Most of us use bridges every single day and while it is true that many - big and small, old and new - of them aren’t worth photographing, there are a great many that are extremely photogenic. These are impressive structures that often dominate the area in which they are situated.
But before you head off to the nearest suspension bridge with your camera bag, it is worth making the personal safety point and say that you should take care and be considerate in your pursuit of bridge images. Park only where you are allowed, stick to recognised pedestrian areas and do not endanger yourself or anyone else – that includes tripping fellow visitors with your tripod.
Photo by Peter Bargh.
Anything goes in respect of lens options. Wide-angles can give dramatic lines and obviously work best if you can walk onto the bridge itself so you can wander around looking for bold foreground details. Set a small lens aperture for an extensive depth-of-field to make the most of scenes. Wides are obviously great too, to put a bridge into context with its surroundings if you can't get back far enough.
If you want to compress perspective or show the bridge in the context of its surroundings, it is time to fit a telephoto lens. Long lenses are handy too for isolating structure details and the like. Longer lenses give a stronger flattening effect and it can look great when there are lots of lines to compress.
A polarizer is worth considering, particularly on sunny days when it can enrich blue skies as well as eliminate glare for saturated colours. Just watch your apertures and shutter speeds.
It is worth having a tripod in the car and although you might not need it for most of the time, it will pay for itself when the lighting levels drop or when you want to use slow shutter speeds to blur traffic.
Photo by Peter Bargh.
When To Head Out?
Time of day and lighting are two crucial aspects to consider. Most weather conditions work for bridges although one exception to that is dull, flat, blank sky days.
Early morning or late evening are good times when a low sun gives oblique lighting to highlight textures in the scene and the warm lighting adds to the mood.
If you make the effort to get there for the evening light you might as well as hang around for twilight and a bit of low light photography. This is where the tripod and remote release are essential. A head torch comes in handy too as the light levels drop away.
As well as overall views of the bridge, do get in close and shoot details too. Nuts and bolts, suspension wires, supports, signs and much more can make for good images. You could even set yourself a mini project and shoot a series of images that sums up the structure. This is a great idea for older structures but works for new bridges too.
Longer Shutter Speeds
Once daylight has given way to twilight it is time to explore the long shutter speeds of your camera. You could try the B (Bulb) setting where the shutter stays open so long as the shutter button is held down using the remote release. Most DSLRs, including the new Canon EOS 70D
which also features long exposure noise reduction, have lengthy shutter speed options available, and if you want to shoot longer B is the setting to use but it is important to make sure your battery has plenty of charge. If the battery fails before the image is finished and saved you will lose it.
Canon EOS 70D - Capture the moment at seven frames per second. Click here for more information on the high performance EOS 70D, featuring 7fps full resolution shooting, an advanced 19-point AF system and Canon’s unique Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology.