There really is no other place quite like the Big Sur coastline of California. It is big, dramatic, and boasts stunning views around every corner. It is no wonder that our one-day workshop is so popular. During the winter, the weather is often dramatic and varies from location to location, and this workshop lived up to that reputation. We cover a lot of ground throughout the day, beginning in Carmel where Brian and Joe met up with everybody for a brief introduction and orientation, before loading into our comfortable van for the short ride over to the Carmel Mission.
Because the Mission is still a working church, Sunday morning is always a special time to visit. Brian led off the morning with a short discussion on topics like depth of field, selecting an appropriate shutter speed and ISO for the scenes we would be shooting, and composition. We encourage everybody to go ahead and put their camera on manual mode as we help them understand what the various settings do, and why one wants to be able to have control over all the aspects of the camera in order to produce unique and intentional images…something that photographers of all experience levels strive to do. With that, and guidance to the many areas of the Mission to see, we cut everybody loose to explore and shoot for a couple of hours. Brian and I spent that time working with everybody, helping them to be comfortable using their cameras, seeing different compositions, and dealing with tricky exposure situations. There are so many elements to work with here, color, texture, repeating and abstract patterns, contrasts etc., that it would be easy to spend an entire day…but we cover a lot of ground on this workshop, so we loaded up in the ApCab once again and headed south along windy Highway 1 towards our next stop.
One of the advantages of all traveling together is that we have lots of opportunity to talk and answer questions as we drive between locations. The travel time goes quickly, and after a brief rest stop for some food and coffee, we arrived at the famous McWay falls. Throughout the drive, the rain and fog came and went, affording everybody some amazing views as we pointed out many places that are good for shooting should people find themselves in the area again with more time!
At McWay falls, there is a short walk down to the trail to a series of overlooks of this beautiful and unique waterfall that drops from the cliffs down to the beach, which is surrounded by crystal clear blue water. We were lucky when we arrived in that the rain was holding off, allowing us to work with people on the use of filters to both balance the light, as well as slow down our shutter speeds to create that silky look in the surf and the waterfall. The rain did not hold off for the entire time, but we were prepared… Brian ran back to the van and came back with an armful of umbrellas, which we distributed amongst everyone so that we could keep shooting this wonderful place in the moody light that the weather gifted us.
Our last stop of the day is back to the north - Pfeiffer Beach and the infamous Keyhole Arch. We time this stop to coincide with sundown, and an opportunity to shoot the sunlight as it shines though the arch. It does not always happen though. As often happens in the winter, the cloud cover was a little too thick, but that did not matter because this area is rich with beautiful scenes no matter what the weather may be. As the light grows dimmer, the exposure times get longer, and everybody came away with great pictures of the ethereal water moving among the sea stacks and the rocks on the beach. By the time we finished up and headed back to the van for the short drive back to Carmel, everybody had a full dose of shooting and learning for the day!
Until Next Time,
Joe, 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.