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The winter has taken its toll on the state of California. It’s been a few years since we’ve had any kind of considerable rainfall, and the scorched, dry earth instead of being considerate and enjoying the water…decided to rebel and barf up chunks of the earth all over the roadways causing blockage due to mudslides and destruction of bridges. One of the biggest stretches of road that was damaged was Highway 1. One of the main bridges in the Big Sur coastal stretch was severely damaged in recent storms, and this caused a 30-40 mile stretch of the highway to be shut down to all but local traffic.
Despite the recent road issues, the area still has plenty of wonderful places to see, and use as a platform to learn more about digital photography.
Scott Donschikowski and I met our group of 11 eager photographers in Carmel for a day of photography education in and around the wonderful Carmel/Big Sur area. First things first Scott and I worked with the group in a small lecture on the three components of exposure; aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. We took it slow and really went into depth on these things, so the group not only knew what they meant, but also got to see how to change them in their cameras. Having this knowledge firmly in place helps when learning how to put things together shooting in manual mode.
Once we addressed these three elements in detail it was time to head over to the Carmel Mission and really get to work on putting this all into practice. The mission is AWESOME. This time of the year everything is blooming and there’s so many details, repetition of shape, patterns, color schemes, etc. to photograph. The group really has the time to spread out and explore the grounds. Scott and I monitor them to check on their compositions, provide clarification on the settings, and also point them in the right direction towards their next composition.
We spend just two hours here, but easily leave with plenty more we could have photographed. The next stop is Garrapata Creek. This little drainage creek has a section filled with lilies. We make the way down the muddy trail to the creek. The sun is quite harsh, but this creates a great selection of shadows for the class to work with...as well as plenty of opportunities for shooting in monochrome. Tone and shape are present in any weather…and if used well can create stunning compositions even in the trickiest light.
Our final two stops of the evening were near Soberantes Cove. Here the cliffs bring us very close to the sea and allow us the opportunity to photograph some of the unique geological formations and sea stacks along the water. The setting sun creates a warmth to the rocks that shows up really well when shot at a warmer white balance, as Scott suggested. The goal was to get our compositions set up before the sunset so we could really work on using our graduated ND, solid ND, and polarizing filters to help get a balanced, and aesthetically pleasing image to work with later in processing. The sunset was nice, warmth permeated the whole scene, and the longer the exposures got, the better those images looked. Scott and I saw some really nice images on those cameras. Though the wind blew mightily, our group was tough and stuck it out until the last bit of light faded from the sky.
Sometimes nature throws you a curve, and closes a road, but everyone really made the best of it, and came away with some tremendous new images, and learned a lot along the way.
Until Next Time,
Brian, Scott, 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.