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Natural Bridges State Beach, located in Santa Cruz California, is world-renowned for its yearly migration of monarch butterflies. During the winter months these butterflies arrive by the thousands and this, combined with great coastal weather, makes a perfect combination for a photography workshop...and that's just what we did!
Our group of 15 (including our record setting member whose birthday was on this day...she had just turned 77! Congrats!) arrived right on time. With a short orientation to get to know one another, we were off into the grove in pursuit of the beautiful Monarch butterfly.
Even before we got to the bottom of the trail we saw signs of them everywhere. Their bright orange colors really drew the eye and students immediately began shooting. Instructors Stephen Oachs and Scott Davis worked with everyone to find just the right settings to capture the true color, as well as compensate for the extreme contrasted light in the eucalyptus trees.
Giant clusters of butterflies hung from the branches and we worked to find those perfect patches of sunlight that illuminated these butterflies, making for great colorful compositions. Once in awhile, a single butterfly would fly down low and land within just a few feet, allowing for some quick captures of macro-style shots.
Before long, the afternoon sun was on the move, so we packed up and headed out to the beach. An unusually warm coastal November day was at hand and everyone was really enjoying this rare nice late fall weather. We setup in a line in front of the famous Natural Bridges arch and spent the next hour working on advanced composition and high aperture settings in combination with creative shutter speeds to help capture the motion of the ocean (that rhymes!) while the tide lapped at the beach in front of us.
As the sun set, the high clouds above the arch lit up beautifully, creating one of the best sunsets we'd seen at this location. Students were all setup and were capturing it beautifully. We heard many "ooohhhs" and "ahhhhs" all around.
As the light faded, we packed up and headed back to the parking lot. With new friends made and many great images captured, we said our good-byes.
Thank you everyone for attending and we hope to see you again on a future adventure!
Until next time,
Stephen, Scott, 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!