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It takes a bit more than 8,000 runners and support staff of the Big Sur Marathon to sideline our Carmel Mission and Big Sur Workshop...though they did give it a good effort. Aperture staff were aware of the potential conflicts of interest between the marathon event and our good people's efforts to capture and glorify the Gold Coast on digital media. Information provided by CHP declared that Hwy 1 south of Carmel would be open for business at 11:30am but as 12:30 (workshop begins at 1pm) rolled around, it seemed that they CHP was a little behind schedule. In their defense though, the crowd was huge, the weather was spectacular and a few runners were slower than expected as I assumed they chose to take a more leisurely pace to enjoy the not only gorgeous weather but jaw dropping scenery.
With a quick round of strategic phone calls placed to our incoming clients, we relocated our meeting place to the Carmel Mission so our participants wouldn't have to navigate the gridlocked parking lots of the Carmel Crossroads and decipher our staff from the thousands of celebratory runners. Once again, we sincerely thank the flexibility of our totally awesome group of 9 photo commandos who met up with the double dose of Scott's from Aperture Academy.
It was one of those rare balmy days on the Big Sur coast where t-shirts and shorts rather than multi-layers of clothing was all that was needed. After a quick round of introductions, our group headed inside the adobe walls of the Carmel Mission in search of photographic subject matter. Search time, about 4 seconds. It might even be less as the moment you pass through the gates, architectural scenics immediately greet the viewer. In my humble opinion, the Carmel Mission is one of the prettiest missions in all of California. Students can focus on interior shots, macro subject matter in the gardens, long corridors that require extreme depth of field settings, intricate detail work throughout the mission and more. Its here, that our instructors begin to work one on one with group members answering specific questions or working to achieve desired results. Working in full manual mode is stressed and other topics are covered including best ways to set up for an HDR image, ensuring sharpness throughout the desired field of frame or perhaps selective focus of a subject. For those not familiar with determining aperture and shutter speed for proper exposure, we guide step by step the process to do so.
With fingers crossed that the mayhem of the marathon masses had now passed, we all hopped into the ApCab in an attempt to make it down the coast. Thankfully, during the hour we were in the MIssion, the majority of the Marathoners had crossed the line and heading off to other locations to soothe their aching muscles. Hwy 1 south was now open for business and we were ready for more shooting.
Pt. Lobos with its secluded coves, mix of high cliffs and ocean surf, and primeval looking coastal forest was next on the menu. Since the last stop was focused on architectural scenics, Pt. Lobos goes in the opposite direction with its all nature all the time, we could change gears and concentrate on a mix of wide angle ocean vistas and close cropped high detail abstracts and impressionistic styled imagery. Working with our group, we covered both technical aspects of image making as well as some of the more subjective topics such as coming up with strong compositions. As we've often said in the past, it would be easy to spend an entire afternoon in Pt Lobos. However if we did that, we'd have to leave out some of the most dramatic coast lines of the Big Sur areas that stretch for miles and miles.
The sun was getting low in the sky and the magic hour was fast approaching so after a quick refreshment break following some fantastic shooting in Pt. Lobos, we set off once again further south along the coast in search of more winning images. Next stop was just a quickie spot along a short unmarked trail that took us to a wonderful overlook that spanned about 4 miles of rugged coast. We wanted to grab a high vantage point overlooking the Pacific knowing that our final spot for sunset would place us at near sea level. Its always nice to have different perspectives in photography.
With about 30 minutes till sunset, we headed on down to the next trailhead that would take us to our final stretch of coastline, a rugged promontory that gave an awe inspiring look at a series of prominent sea stacks that the Pacific ocean had carved out over the course of time. Camera and filter techniques and tips learned and honed throughout the day would be put to full use at this final spot. The wonderfully warm weather coupled with a fog free sunset that bathed the coastline in perfect golden light culminated in a series of outstanding final images. If given the choice of marathon running the coast for 5-8 hours or photographing the coast for 8 hours, I think we'd most definitely choose the latter. It was simply a wonderful day of shooting with a great group of new-found friends. On behalf of both Scott's, a big thank you to everyone.
Until next time...Scott, 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.