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The last weekend of Winter saw our group unseasonably warm and comfortable as we went out into the twilight of a San Francisco evening. You just never know what you're going to get on these night time excursions.
Brian and I met our group at Baker Beach where we had our orientation. Everyone was excited and raring to go and learn more about night photography. We had an fantastic group with assorted amounts of experience using a DSLR cameras and a wanting to shooting in the dark. So after we got through with our introductions we headed off to our first location.
We made our first stop at Battery Godfrey which has a wonderful view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Darkness was setting in, so we made quick with getting everyone set up so that each participant could get a shot. Before too long we were already extending the exposure times to 3 seconds, then ten, then fifteen making the car lights going across the span into light trails. The class was already knee deep in the fundamentals of night photography and seeing amazing results!
>Once everyone had a bunch of shots that looked good, we all clamored back into the ApCab 1, our Mercedes Benz fifteen seat mode of transportation, and headed straight to our next stop, the Palace of Fine Arts. This is a wonderful place to work with long exposures in a high contrast setting. Here we te3ach the basics of aperture settings and how they affect the shot. We also begin to shoot exposures over a minute in length which turns the reflecting pond into a mirror.
After a short time we moved ourselves under, and just outside the main dome and played around with assorted perspectives and some basic lessons in framing. In the dark of night, the glow of the lights and the colors of the architectures really comes through, and it's also a fantastic way to learn how to correctly expose an indoor/outdoor scene with the greatly varying dynamic range of light. A full moon was present and many of our participants found creative, unique ways to add it to their images.
The next stop was the very well known winding road called Lombard Street. The goal we have at Lombard Street is to work on long exposures to capture moving headlights/taillights as they wind their way down the hill. Brian usually takes the students to a vantage point at a low angle to catch the headlights coming down towards the group while I take a higher perch, showing the students how to get both the trail of red tail lights and the iconic city both into their frames. As a bonus, from this place there are a great many views of many of the city's notable landmarks. To capture them, all one needs is a lens capable of zooming over 50mm. The variety of imagery from this one location is immense!
After we have shot both sides of this iconic landmark and the landmarks of the city, we're ready for a break in North Beach for some refreshments and a quick recharge.
After everyone is rested, and filled we head to our final destination of the evening, the other span across the waters known as simply the Bay Bridge. We set up along the embarcadero where everyone who has a sufficient wide angle can get amazing images of the entire western span of the bridge as the 25,000 lights illuminate the cables, making great reflections across the water. Here we get to really get into the long exposure, keeping the lens open for two minutes at times. We also teach more lessons on how to control the white balance of the camera and explain how the f/stop relates to the focal range of the subject. Nighttime is a great place for learning how to control a DSLR camera and make it do what you want it to do. By this time everyone was quite seasoned in the skil sets we had been teaching, but still Brian and I both made certain that all of the lessons of the evening were making sense to all who were a part of this class and were very please to see that the information we had been giving out was definitely sinking in and becoming a part of each of our students photographic knowledge base.
At the end of this warm evening, everyone was coming away with a bunch of really nice images and new skills to go along with them. San Francisco always delivers at night! Chalk another one up for this great city and the Aperture Academy!
Until Next Time,
Brian, Matt 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.)