Oh the things we do for Photography,And on FRIDAY THE 13th TOO! I can remember a time when night photography was darn near impossible, compared to the way we do things today. Advances in technology and gear has made exploring the world after sunset a much more aesthetically pleasing place. Scott Donschikowski and I met a group of 10 eager photographers this past Friday for a night of fun and education as we took them to explore some of San Francisco's amazing night scenes.
Our first stop was the Palace of Fine Arts. This is some of the city's best architecture. This wonderful world fair remnant reflects beautifully in the pond out front, and creates a stunning photograph. Scott and I help the group to get set up on their tripods, get the correct lenses, and then start the process of understanding their exposures. For night photography we're typically shooting longer shutter speeds this is because a) it's dark outside, and we need more light to get the picture to show up, and b) because we can get some nice colors and movement in things that move within the frame. In this scene, we have a light breeze that blows the reflection a little, causing the colors to look almost like a Monet painting. There is a lot of contrast in this first scene, so we do make sure to address different approaches to dealing with that as well.
Our next stop is easily one of the group's favorites…Lombard Street. Here we break the group up into 2 smaller factions and have them work on shooting techniques that will allow them to get the headlights and taillights of the cars driving this crooked street to blur. Anything that moves in an image that is being shot from a tripod will create motion blur...because our background are still, and the only thing moving are the cars, their lights show up as streaks. It's one of the coolest looking images. Once the gang has shot up and down the street we make our way to the water and a shot of the Bay Bridge as seen from the Embarcadero.
This shot is an absolute icon. A must have in any SF night portfolio, and one of the most popular images in our gallery. By this time the group has started to understand the settings. We've gone over long exposures, and white balance a few different times and it's all starting to sink in. The images are looking fantastic on the screens, and everyone is filling up those memory cards. Save some space! We still have one more bridge to shoot...maybe you've heard of it? The Golden Gate!
Our last stop is certainly not our least...it's the most iconic bridge perhaps in the world. The group takes all the skills Scott and I have passed on works to make one last epic image. Scott and I of course check on everyone often, help them work through the settings one last time, help dial in compositions, and make sure these final frames are great. It's been such a whirlwind tour, it's hard to believe it's coming to an end. All good things must, though...and we make the short drive back to Sausalito and everyone's waiting cars.
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.
NOTE: You can see more workshop photos below the comments.