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Photographing the city at night can be a rewarding experience. With interesting locations and the tools and know-how needed, one can bring out the glow and mystery of night scenes not seen with the naked eye. So with Aperture Academy instructors, Scott Davis and Jean Day, a happy group of Night Owls descended upon the City By The Bay for an evening of fun and an eagerness to learn how to work this particular magic.
Scott began the evening with everyone introducing themselves to find out where each person was in their technical skills and knowledge of their gear, and what they hoped to learn in order to better tailor the night to their individual needs. Then everyone climbed aboard the ApCab an off they went to begin shooting the Golden Gate Bridge at an overlook near Baker Beach. The fog stayed off shore allowing the golden evening light to bathe the surroundings before the sun dipped behind the Marin Headlands. This time allowed Scott and Jean a chance to get to know their students and assist with some basic shooting tips which would be used into the night.
Getting away from the windy point, the crew headed over to the Palace of Fine Arts to photograph the unique columned structure and reflecting pool during blue hour.
Night shooting with long exposures requires the use of tripods and remote shutter release capabilities. Students were given tips and instruction on white balance for the warm lights of the building against the deep blue of the sky as well as varying compositions and shutter speeds for different effects.
Once under the dome, students were treated to a local roller-blading group, complete with boom box and colored lights, and enjoyed capturing them as they skated between our photographers. The tall columns, highlighted arches, and patterned ceiling made for great abstract shots and challenged all to look for a different point of view using the long, leading lines. Students were also greeted by an almost full moon peeking through an archway giving more opportunities to apply new skills from the evening.
Cold and windblown from the typical San Francisco weather, it was time to stop for a snack and hot coffee before heading over to Lombard Street. Here, Scott and Jean separated the group and set up in two locations to give everyone a chance to capture light trails from the cars traveling down the curvy road.
This is always a favorite stop for Aperture Academy students and instructors because of the excitement our clients get when seeing the smooth glow of red and white flowing lines from their very first shot!
Taking turns, the group was able to capture the city's iconic features like Coit Tower and the Bay Bridge with light trails going down the street, and headlights coming through the frame with stately buildings looming up in the background.
The last stop for the night was at the Embarcadero to capture the iconic Bay Bridge with the old pier pilings in the foreground. Students learned once again about the effects of white balance and capturing scenes with ambient light. Multiple minute exposures were used to create smooth waters and long reflections from the bridge lights. A bit of cloud cover helped to illuminate the sky above the bridge rendering a more ethereal look to the scene.
It is always with great pleasure when our instructors notice students searching out their own unique compositions in order to practice their new skills and personal creativity, and this night was no exception.
Scott and Jean and the entire Aperture Academy team thank you all for spending your evening with us and hope you came away with enough knowledge to take your photographic journey to the next level.
P.S. If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.