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It was a simply gorgeous Friday in March. Stephen and Ellie made some final adjustments to the Aperture Academy gallery, in order to prepare for their fantastic group of students who had signed up for the 3-Day Panoramic Photography Workshop, Megapixels to Gigapixels.
Stephen Oachs has a gallery filled with amazing images and upon entering, it would be hard not to immediately notice the gigantic metal print of Bryce National Park. The multi row panoramic print covers the entire wall. It's impressive to say the least. Our students would learn over our 3-day workshop what it takes to produce a print of such grandeur and quality.
Stephen and Ellie greeted each student as they arrived at the Aperture Academy. Once everyone was there, the group made their way to Cafe Artemis for a lovely lunch and orientation/meet and greet. Stephen and Ellie got familiar with all their students, and each individual's skill level, experience, and their personal expectations for the following three days.
With full, full bellies, they all made their way back to the gallery to start the learning fun. Stephen went over some important panoramic, image capturing topics. Ellie had a live feed to the TV, and with some bottles of wine, displayed what an improperly set nodal point looks like; after which, she demonstrated how nice a properly set nodal point should look.
After Stephen covered many important topics and scenarios, he and Ellie assisted all the students with setting up their nodal points. This was a surefire way to eliminate any guess work, once in the field. Once everyone was set up and nodal points were noted, it was time for a little wine and cheese, before calling it an evening, and putting day 1 in the books.
Today the group made their way to San Francisco, for a fun filled day of pano shooting in the city. Ellie drove while Stephen navigated the Aperture Academy Mercedes Sprinter van (affectionately dubbed ApCab).
The first stop was Twin Peaks. An iconic overlook with an outstanding vista of the city and surrounding areas, including the Golden Gate and Bay bridges. This was the perfect first stop, as the distant scene would ease the students in to the intricacies of panoramic photography. After everyone was warmed up and starting to get the hang of all this new equipment, things were about to get more interesting.
Fort Point was next on tap, and this stop would prove to be much more challenging. The close proximity shooting of architecture would really test the accuracy of those nodal points. After an initial shot in the main courtyard, Ellie and Stephen split into two groups and guided their students to a couple of different locations, including the roof. From high atop Fort Point, you're standing directly under the Golden Gate. It's an amazing view, but quite challenging for capturing a pano image, and the students met the challenge well. After a few passes, they went back into the fort and took a crack at some of the large passage ways. The repetitive patterns of the brick archways make for a very cool single row pano.
An early dinner break was next on the agenda. Ellie and Stephen took the students to their favorite eatery in Sausolito, Cafe Rome. They make a really good lamb burger, which is what most indulged in. After full bellies, it was time to head out once again.
The Marin Headlands and Hawk Hill were the next destination. Another iconic San Francisco view, as seen through the spans of the Golden Gate Bridge. Some switched to a longer focal length to gain a little telephoto compression, and capture a bit more detail in the cityscape. The day was flying by, but one more stop was on hand, and it was a beautiful little gem.
Back on the San Francisco side, they made their way to the Palace of Fine Arts. As the sun set and the sky slowly darkens, it's the time of day know as the Blue Hour. Not really close to being an hour long, nonetheless it's a magical time to photograph, especially at the Palace. As the lights illuminate the architecture in a gorgeous golden hue, and the sky turns a beautiful shade of blue, it makes for a stunning combination.
As the students photographed the stunning scene from across the reflecting pool, a meet-up group filtered in along the sides. Ellie and Stephen had gotten everyone set up at just the right time, in order to grab that prime shooting spot. As the sky darkened, Stephen had the students cool down their white balances, in order to achieve a better in-camera result. A few last passes of two and three rows and it was finally time to call it a night, and head back to Campbell.
This is the post processing day, or as Stephen likes to say, "where the rubber meets the road." If the nodal pony was not properly set, this is the process where it will become evident. Jan Silverman, the Aperture Academy's resident print master, joined Ellie and Stephen on this final important day.
Stephen walked through all the steps involved to post processing all these cool pano images the students captured. Jan, Ellie, and Stephen were all on hand to assist the students in image selection and, of course, processing. Some adjustments inevitably needed to be made, so the instructors were quick to jump in and help.
There were a few photo snafus, but none that could not be overcome by some innovative post processing tricks. The students all had at least one image they were proud to have printed. Jan collected all the final images on a removable hard drive and off he went to make the beautiful 20"x40" prints for everyone. All in all, another satisfying and very enjoyable workshop with a great group of students!
Until Next Time,
Thank you from Ellie, Stephen, Jan and the entire Aperture Academy Team!
If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.