The San Francisco Botanical gardens is a magnificent microclimate gem. With over 8,000 species of plants, it covers an astounding 55 acres, on the outer edges of a sprawling cityscape. It’s the perfect backdrop for our Aperture Academy photography workshop.
DeAnna and myself met up with 8 budding photographers. The weather was perfect. Some would disagree, as it was foggy and quite damp, but it was this heavy fog that created the perfect conditions. First of all the fog creates studio style, soft, even light. Secondly the heavy fog creates some stunning droplets on flowers, leaves, and even spider webs. DeAnna and I were both giddy to see the conditions.
After a quick meet and greet we got things underway, only making it a few feet before spotting some really great flora specimens to shoot. It was a nice warm-up, as we covered the basics of the exposure triangle and the importance of depth-of-field as it relates to macro photography. We were on hand to answer questions and give instant feedback on composition and settings.
There are so many flowers and plants to look at and especially photograph in the gardens. From Dogwood to Calla Lilies, to California Poppies, there was something interesting and beautiful around every corner. Composition plays such a big role in flower photography, and the rule-of-thirds is a big part of that. It’s so simple, yet so impactful. As we photographed Dogwoods we created a pleasing rule of thirds placement, while ensuring our background remained clutter free and simple. Depth-of-field plays a big role in simplifying, by creating an out of focus background, our eye stays on the main subject. In this instance our subject being a flower.
As we walked through the gardens, one of the coolest things we photographed were some leaves speckled with water droplets. The edges of the leaves were jagged, and reminiscent of an alligator's back. The delicate droplets in combination with the spiny edges, made for a lovely and appealing contrast. DeAnna and I helped with some different compositions, as well as trying different points of view. The students were capturing some fantastic images. Time was really flying, so we made our way into the South African section, as the Pincushion Protea were in full bloom. The pincushions are unique and beautiful. There were many specimens, in many stages of growth. The colors shapes make for some interesting and sometimes abstract images.
This unique and colorful area of the garden was the perfect location for us to grab a quick group shot. The group photo is always fun and it signifies the end of our time together, so we said our fond farewells. Time sure does fly when you’re having fun!
Until next time,
Ellie, DeAnna and the entire 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.