The Darkside of Photography Workshop - June 24th, 2011

Star/Night Photography Workshop Students with Aperture Academy

When the sun goes down a whole new world of photography opens up and on this warm summer night our photography workshop group experienced some of the best night shooting conditions possible!

At 7pm we started orientation at the Aperture Academy Gallery, a 4,000 square foot facility that acts as both a fine art photography gallery as well as classroom and venue. We spent the first 30 minutes getting to know one another, talking about gear and walking through the plan for the evenings shoot.

With the sunset only about 45 minutes away it was time to load up into the van and head south out of San Jose and into the darkness of Morgan Hill and Gilroy valley offers.

Once on location, we made the short walk out into the open preserve and right off we spotted several deer. Our presence spooked them and they headed off into the trees. We began to setup, using an old oak tree as our subject with a nice golden brown, pristine grassy field as our foreground....now all we needed were stars!

As we got our tripods stable, cameras setup we worked on composition and how to lock focus so that once it was dark we would be sure to get sharp images during our long exposures. As we worked through the setup exercise we could hear a group of coyotes howling near by...a sound the Aperture Academy instructors have heard on many past workshops.

It was showtime! We started with light painting exercises...this is a lot of fun and really teaches you how your camera reacts to light. This also helped pass the time as we waited for the darkness to settle in so that we could begin to work on start trails and pinpoint stars...and that we did!

Finally, the sun was far beyond the horizon and shifted our cameras into Bulb mode and began a series of long exposures...first 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, and so on. We work carefully to adjust white balance so that we captured the warmth of the old oak tree but still pulled the blueness of the dark sky into our pictures.

As we neared the end of the workshop we revisited the pinpoint star shots at 25 seconds and used a lantern to light paint and add a little extra mood to the foreground and tree. Then to wrap things up, Alicia light painted one final time..."Aperture Academy" with a backwards "y". With a lot of great laughs we made the walk back to the van and returned to Aperture Academy.

Thank you everyone who attended and until next time,

Alicia, Ellie, Stephen and the rest of the team at Aperture Academy!

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