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Write up by Instructor Brian Rueb
Our night began as a cold breeze blows off the ocean and the sun begins to set over the Pacific. The Golden Gate glowing as Matt and I do our workshop introduction. Everyone I think is glad we’re not starting here in the wind, and moving inland where we’ll get less wind, and more enjoyable temperatures.
The class is great, everyone has a variety of experience and arrived ready to shoot night images, and learn more about the world of night photography. Matt and I are looking forward to a fun night!
The first stop is the mighty Palace of Fine Arts, and we’ve shown up right for blue hour, which is perfect. My favorite time of year is Feb-April when we get to shoot the bright oranges of the palace, with the cobalt blue of twilight. It’s so awesome to see these complimentary colors work so well. Matt and I work with the students on composition, and the settings necessary to get terrific images. The ducks and swans are a bit annoying and ruin the reflection from time to time…but it’s overall REALLY great.
Once the class has photographed the pond it’s time to move under the dome to shoot some symmetry, and work more on composition. We saw some great images on the backs of the camera. I used the time to work with a few people on how the Kelvin scale works for in-camera white balance…and explained the why behind white balance shifting manually versus auto, or pre-sets.
The next stop was the wonderful twists of Lombard Street. Always fun here to show some long exposure tricks, and work with moving lights. It’s also always fun to see how the tourists driving the road respond to our paparazzi style camera lines. We like to say to cars that ask us what we’re doing, that Brad Pitt is filming a movie in the homes there, and we expect him at any moment. Sometimes when we’re 70 seconds into a 90 second exposure and they stop…we just tell them we’re watching you ruin our photos…hah!
Whether shooting from the top down or bottom up both groups of students had some terrific shots of the moving lights on the narrow cobblestone streets.
Break was our next stop for the night in the wonderful bustling North Beach neighborhood. Always fun for people who don’t live in San Francisco to see the vibrant nightlife the city has, and also to get coffee. Coffee is good for night shooting…mandatory, I think.
The last stop was our favorite, The Bay Bridge, under normal circumstances is AMAZING with the pilings in the foreground, but for the next few months, an artist has installed a moving LED light show on the bridge that give EXTRA POP and STYLE to this iconic image. Matt and I helped the students move around to find the best compositions, and also find spots where the background construction lights weren’t as bright. Often photographing super scenes is so overwhelming students can forget to really stop and assess a scene to make sure they eliminate little distractions if possible.
We had a blast at all the locations, and even welcomed a local construction worker to be part of our group shot! First time that’s ever happened!
Matt and I had a great time from start to finish working with eager photographers, and laughing a lot while in the van rides and on location. Great group of people with some great images on those full memory cards!
On behalf of myself (Brian), Matt, and the Aperture Academy team, we thank you for a another great workshop!
P.S. If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here. (More photos below the comments.)