We've all heard the expression, "Time flies when you're having fun." This was undoubtedly our theme on the April 9th Big Sur workshop.
Aperture Academy instructors, Scott Davis, Alicia Telfer, and Ellie Stone led 16 enthusiastic students on a 7-hour photographic exploration in the always-magnificent Carmel and Big Sur area.
On the agenda for this exciting day was the charming and historic Carmel Mission, with all its classic Spanish architecture, gorgeous landscaping and rich history. From the Mission we would make our way down the coast to the ever astounding, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. And, as if that were not enough idyllic locations, we hopped in the Aperture Academy van (aka "ApCab") and once again headed south along the coast to capture our final images of the day. This closing stop was at an absolutely stunning location called, Rocky Point.
Our meet up location for this photographic workshop was at the Crossroads Shopping Center in Carmel. Upon arriving, we all knew it would be a spectacular day of shooting. The sun was shinning, the temperatures mild, and there were just enough big White, fluffy, clouds for interest and beauty.
We began by gathering around the Aperture Academy van, where we ran through some quick introductions. It was a lively bunch that included some returning smiling students.
Once we all got acquainted, the van full of eager students headed to the Carmel Mission. There were endless photo opportunities awaiting us, from the courtyard areas with its lush gardens and statues, the rich Spanish architecture, long corridors, weathered wood doorways, to, of course, the main chapel itself.
During this first stop, the instructors' main task was to ensure everyone was getting practice with their cameras and utilizing the manual mode for shooting. For those already familiar with their camera's manual option, we addressed composition, and incorporating the use of some creative depth of field into the images. Even though we could have spent the remainder of the workshop shooting at the Carmel Mission, we had to pack up and head to our next destination, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.
Famed landscape artist, Francis McComas, eloquently describes Point Lobos as a photographer's paradise. It has a stunning and thunderous coastline, not to mention spectacular vistas and winding trails, blanketed with snarling cypress trees covered in lichen. The colors are vibrant and proliferous.
The Cypress Grove trail was our first objective. Winding back and forth along the coast, this short trail is long on photographic opportunities. Students were able to use everything from a macro lens to a long telephoto, and even a wide angle. There are so many outstanding features packed into one area, that it's easy to get a little overwhelmed. Therefore, we worked on tight compositions, ensuring a clear subject matter would be conveyed in our images.
About halfway around the trail loop, an impressive shoreline greeted us with turquoise water, crashing waves and prominent rock formations. The students got to experiment with graduated neutral density (GND) filters in order to balance out their exposures, and capture an optimal exposure "in camera," eliminating the need to spend an excessive amount of time on post processing.
There was only enough time to shoot a few more images at this outstanding location, before we had to depart for our final destination of the workshop, Rocky Point. Again, we could have spent the remainder of our time at this location, and time was most definitely flying by.
As we were finishing with the outstanding trail, everyone was ready for a quick break, to grab a snack and power up for the remaining hours of awe-inspiring scenery. One very sweet student (Connie) brought a container of homemade cappuccino chocolate bars. Those who were lucky enough to indulge in one (or two) experienced an amazingly delicious treat. Thanks Connie!
By this point in the workshop, we were all pretty familiar with each other. This became evident during our short drive to Rocky Point. As a classic Rick James tune permeated in to the van, we all began to sing along to none other than Super Freak. Upon arriving at our last workshop stop, we wanted to capture a shot of all the phenomenal students as a delightful remembrance of the day. Then the students stepped back behind their own cameras again.
One of the terrific aspects of Rocky Point is its many vantage points. Some students decided to follow Scott to the highest perspective, while others stayed a little lower and benefitted from the instruction of Alicia and Ellie.
While the sunset did not prove to be filled with tons of color, we still captured some outstanding long exposure shots of the waves. With a longer exposure, the students were smitten to capture that silky smooth effect that a longer exposure lends to an image. Again, the utilization of neutral density filters (ND) helped everyone achieve the desired result of a correctly balanced exposure in camera.
After the sun was set, everyone loaded up his or her camera gear in the van for the final time for that workshop. On the drive back to Carmel, we all recapped an amazing day of shooting in an area of Northern California that is undoubtedly a crown jewel.
All had an extraordinary day. Everyone came away with an increased knowledge about exposure, composition and creativity, as well as some new friends. Scott, Alicia, and Ellie look forward to seeing you at the next workshop!
Until next time...Scott, Alicia, Ellie and the rest of the Aperture Academy team!
P.S. If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.
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