Night Photography is and will continue to cause people issues and struggles, and at the Aperture Academy we try to help dissolve some of the mystery that surrounds this type of photography so that folks can go out and enjoy their cameras when the sun has gone down and not be so intimidated by their cameras. What better place to learn these skills than in San Francisco!
Ellie Stone and I met a group of 13 awesome learners in Sausalito, California for a brief orientation before we set out for a full night of shooting the iconic San Francisco hot spots. Our first stop was the lovely Marin Headlands where we set up to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge. This first spot not only sets up the class with a blockbuster location, but also gives Ellie and I a chance to start to cover those settings like Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO….and White Balance which is an area that gives people fits but is very necessary to achieve the right color balance and look to night images.
Our next stop is the Palace of Fine Arts, and the wonderful reflective pond. The architecture here is stunning and combined with the colors of the reflection make for some stunning work. This is also a great place to talk about the increased dynamic range some places present at night with light and dark extremes and how to combat them. Everyone got some terrific shots here…and Ellie and I were really pumped to see the shots the class was coming away with.
It's coffee time after our second stop and we make a quick break at a local Starbuck's so people can use the restroom, and get a warm drink to help take them through the rest of the night…and the best is still to come! Our 3rd stop is the twisty turning Lombard Street. Here we break in to smaller groups and Ellie and I are able to go over how to shoot taillights and headlights with the group…which take slightly different approaches to get an aesthetically pleasing image.
Everyone, I think, really starts to grasp the concepts at this location…and the confidence levels begin to increase. Lombard Street FEELS like night photography for me…you're using your camera as a tool to really gather the best possible looking photo. This spot perfectly sets us up for the final location…the Bay Bridge.
The Bay Bridge view from the Embarcadero is a must have for all night shooting in San Francisco…it just is. People have seen this shot in the gallery, online, and probably from a friend or two over the time…and for many this image feels like the impossible task when they first see it…it almost GLOWS it's so impressive. Getting this shot for yourself is easily one of the highlights for the night. Ellie and I love to see how proud the students are of themselves for getting this image and finally starting to get a handle on the aspects of night photography. Ellie and I were glad we could be along for the process!
Until Next Time,
Brian, Ellie, 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. (More photos below the comments.)