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Aperture Academy

Santa Cruz Butterfly and Sunset Workshop - November 14th, 2010

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!




Hema - November 15th, 2010 (9:12am)

I had a great time yesterday. Stephen & Scott were so helpful & so much fun to work with. I was quite disappointed that the Monarch didn't land on me, but got some decent shots with a not so great zoom lens ;-). The sunset was grand and glorious & I was so glad to be there. Thanks guys !! Hope to try out few more workshops.

Jacqueline Deely - November 15th, 2010 (12:22pm)

Darn! I should have done this one. You guys had amazing weather and an amazing sunset!

Lisa - November 15th, 2010 (5:20pm)

What an amazing Workshop! Couldn't have asked for better conditions or a nicer bunch of people for my first time. S & S made it even more fun and taught me new things within the first few minutes. Can't wait to spend time with and share my photos! I never imagined I could take such professional-looking pictures. I'm already planning my calendar around another workshop soon!

Mary Johnson - November 15th, 2010 (9:32pm)

Am I one happy camper???? YUP! Thanking the Good Lord for the opportunity to take part!
I have some all time great images of the sunset here and such good vibes from the entire experience!
Scott and Stephen were over the top as instructors as well as assuring that everyone felt valued,
encouraged and exceeded their own personal bottom lines! I only hope to be able to participate
in another one of their workshops. Thank you, thank you!
Mary J.

Ilene - November 17th, 2010 (4:29pm)

What a great workshop. I ended up with terrific images of the Monarch butterflies and the spectacular beach sunset. (thanks for arranging the perfect weather!) Stephen and Scott were so helpful and FUN to be with, and everyone in the group was so nice and enjoyable to spend the afternoon with. Thank you!

Judy - December 3rd, 2010 (7:50am)

Love the photos of the class but where are shots of the butterflies and sunset?

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