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Everyone who visits the Big Sur coastline, no matter where they come from will say it is one of the most beautiful stretches of coast anywhere in the world. They are right! While the previous days had brought a ton of rain to the area...our Sunday Big Sur workshop was fortunate enough to have blue skies, with streaks of white clouds rolling right through. What a beautiful day!
I met a group of 6 eager photographers who were ready to see what the area had to offer and learn more about photography.
The first stop of the day is Carmel Mission. This is one of the oldest missions in California, and arguably one of the prettiest. The different foliage and succulents here alone could take up hours of photography. I like to start the group off with some basic instruction on shooting in manual mode. We cover Aperture---Shutter Speed---ISO and how they work, when to use them, and most importantly; how to set up a routine so that the mystery of shooting begins to go away, and a confidence begins to take hold.
Whether it's the fountain, the chapel, the bell tower, or all of the great plants there is SO much to shoot here. I try to get the group to look small, work on different exposures with the fountain. I want them to look at how changing the direction one shoots can create a vastly different image...and changing exposure length can do the same thing. Once we get people to start to see differently, then we work on that confidence in knowing the settings.
After the fort we head down highway 1 to McWay Falls. To our shock, the whole area was socked in a thick fog. I've never seen fog like that here at this time of day! I love challenging weather, and the opportunity to create something new and original. We set up our shots, and began to go over the techniques of getting long exposures. While the fog was a little intense at times, it was creating what I felt were some unique images...and before we left, it broke almost entirely revealing the true magic of the area.
Our sunset stop was Pfieffer Beach. This little gem is located in a ‘have-to-know' area a couple miles off the highway. There are no signs to lead you here, you have to know where it is. A really cool sea arch sits on the beach here, and the goal this time of year is to get the setting sun shining through the arch. This is easier said than done...while the concept is simple, Mother Nature really makes it difficult to get this shot. ON this day...while we had a nice sunny day up until about 3pm...the clouds rolled in shortly after and gave us an overcast scene. Which means we work on long exposures, using grad filters, and figuring out other ways to represent this beautiful stretch of coast on our cameras.
I love moody days, so all of the clouds got me to thinking that we should make a pit stop at Bixbie Bridge and shoot some twilight images of car lights streaking across. We had a small group, so everyone was game for this little atypical stop. I got everyone set up and explained how to use their ‘bulb' modes, and how to compensate in camera for those without cable releases. Night photography is always a little tricky...given every scene is different, but after a couple shots we got everyone dialed in and the shots were looking tremendous! Once everyone had gotten a few nice images we decided to pack it up and head back to Carmel so everyone could make the drive home and start the real fun...looking through their images!
Brian 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.