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The lure of night photography draws many out with their camera. They pick their favorite night vantage point, fire a few shots, the flash usually fired off, and they return home to examine their images only to be extremely disappointed. Those who know how to use the camera a bit will try to set their camera on a post, or try to get a slightly longer exposure time, and avoid using the flash and still come home to find their images less than awesome.
Photographing at night is tough. It takes practice, and experience. That’s where the Aperture Academy comes in. Our instructors have the experience, and knowledge to help eager students find out the magic behind night photography and come away with some images that they can be proud of.
Friday night as showers pelted the coastline a group of nervous photographers began to assemble in the Baker Beach parking lot to meet photographers Brian Rueb and Scott Donschikowski for an evening of night photography. On cue the rain let up and the class orientation was able to begin on time. Scott and Brian outlined the evening’s agenda as well as got to know a bit about the students and what they hoped to achieve during the night, as well as their photographic background. There were plenty of new faces and a few friendly return students.
The first stop of the night was the Palace of Fine Arts. Built for the Panama-Pacific Exhibition in 1915 to house artwork it eventually fell to ruin and was all but completely rebuilt in the 1960’s and then refitted again in 2009. This old piece of architecture still holds the attention for all who see it. When they light it up at night, it’s even more stunning as its glow reflects magnificently in the lagoon that surrounds the eastern side of the building.
Brian and Scott spent over an hour here with the students working on different camera settings, seeing creatively, and most importantly learning how to make photographs that really showcased the best this area had to offer. From the reflections in the lagoon to the interesting symmetry in under the dome there was so much to see and photograph here that before we knew it the time had flown by and we had spent almost 2 hours of the class.
It was time to Occupy Lombard street!
Our group split into smaller sections to work the cities most crooked path from top and bottom. Brian worked on compositions looking up the street at the ‘S’ curves in the road, and the streaking headlights coming down to lead viewers into the composition. HE also showed them a few creative ways to use a ‘beanie’ to help exposure and prevent too many cars from burning out the bottom of an image. Scott worked with the group looking down the street from above capturing the red streaks of taillights as they made their way down the road.
When the groups had each had about 20-30 minutes to shoot with each instructor, they switched it up so everyone had multiple chances to capture this amazing stretch of roadway.
Even though the rain had held off, it was a chilly night in the city and a small break after Lombard street allowed everyone to get a snack or warm drink to keep them trucking along for our last stop. The Embarcadero.
Passing the real Occupy tent town on the way, everyone was glad we would only be occupying our locations for an hour at a time. It was pretty cold outside!
While a group of egg throwing hoodlums tried to prevent us from our photography on the Embarcadero we wouldn’t be denied! Our group spread out and made the best of this fantastically iconic location. The Bay Bridge looks amazing with the old pier pilings spread out as a foreground. Brian and Scott helped again with exposure, composition as well as white balance settings to maximize the best of this image.
When the traditional image with the pilings was done to the class satisfaction the group moved closer to the bridge to capture a different angle that utilized an old tugboat as a point of interest in the compositions. The images here were unique and it gave the instructors a chance to help work with increasing ISO to allow for slightly shorter exposure times that didn’t blur the slightly rocking tugboat.
Both Scott and Brian were very impressed with the images and the enthusiasm of the class. It was a truly a great class. Even though the class ended at midnight I think the class could’ve held out until 1 or 2am!
From Scott, Brian and the rest of the ApCad crew, see you next time....
P.S. If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.