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We at the Aperture Academy LOVE San Francisco! People from all around the world come to see it's beautiful landmarks, and we are very lucky to be able to show off some of our favorite spots. This Saturday our group of ten eager photographers met Aperture Academy instructors Jean Day and Matt Granz to photograph some of those iconic locations and come away with the knowledge base to create some memorable shots on this day as well as far into the future.
As is our way, we started off with a brief orientation that allows the class to get acquainted with one another, as well as provide the instructors with the necessary information on the students’ photographic background, equipment, and goals for the day. We always try our best to provide our students with 1-1 information to answer their questions and propel them forward on what it is that they want to learn.
As soon as our orientation is finished we do a short walk down Baker Beach. Baker Beach, during the warmer days is partially a nude beach. The clouds that were prevalent parted as we set up our cameras to shoot the famous red Golden Gate bridge. During this time the instructors help set up the students with the settings that will get them started along with the explanations of why we use these settings, along with how to creatively frame the iconic structure and make it their own. There are a thousand different images a person can take away from this location depending on what they are intent to capture, and that's what's so fun about photography!
After walking back from the beach to the parking lot we set off for one of the cities old hidden treasures, Fort Point. Fort Point is a civil war era building found under the south side of the Golden Gate Bridge that boasts many nooks and crannies in its historic corridors. Here the class breaks up into two smaller groups so Jean and Matt can spend time with the students in some of the smaller, tighter fitting areas of the old fort and work with them on subjects like composition, exposure, depth of field, white balance, and the many ways one can frame an image.
This is a great place to learn how to deal with light and shadow in a high contrast situation, and also exposes (forgive the pun) our students to the concepts of long exposure photography. After taking the students to a few of our favorite spots, we turn them loose for a little while to explore the place and find out some spots of their own, and use the skills that they’ve learned thus far. Today was a wind fest, and we were so proud that many of our awesome students braved the high winds to get shots of the Golden Gate Bridge from the top of the fort! After shooting for close to three hours in this incredible place the group came back together so it could head to Sausalito for a tasty food and drink break before heading off to the Marin Headlands to shoot the coastline at one of its more beautiful beaches.
The (lunch/dinner)break is a good chance for the class to continue to build camaraderie and to talk about photography. Students get a chance to ask more questions and share their shots with the rest of the group. As soon as the class is sufficiently stuffed on Italian food we head off to Rodeo Beach. This spot is a distinctive gem on the San Francisco coast. Sea Stacks and rugged coastline are waiting as our group walks out to the beach under skies that are turning more grey by the minute. The plan under these conditions is to work on the long exposure shot, to blur water, and use neutral density filters to the best of their ability in order to create surreal seascapes. As we headed towards our location a friendly sea otter came along to say hello. He was quick to leave before we could take pictures. Such a tease!
The waves were crashing hard against the sea stacks and rocks, which made for some wonderful long exposure photography, turni8ng the waves into mist, as well as allowing others to shoot very quick exposures of the many water droplets that form as the waves crash against the rocks. Alas, the marine layer as it sometimes does, smothered the chance for getting any sunset images this evening, but the day was not over yet!
One last stop awaited us, and it was none other than a view of the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge and the city itself as a backdrop from the edge of the Marin Headlands. This is one of the most stunning views of the city by the bay along with it's famous iconic bridge as the lights start to turn on as darkness falls. The clouds that precluded sunset wound up reflecting the lights of the city and make for some wonderful colorful compositions. Here, the portion of the class that had remote shutter releases could easily do exposures of over one minute in length to create tremendous star bursts over the lights of the bridge as well as light trails across it from all the cars traveling back and forth across the span.
After everyone came away with picture postcard shots it was time to leave and head back for our cars parked at Baker Beach where everything started only eight short hours ago. Happy and content, our students learned some new techniques, saw some new places, captured some great images, and shots pictures of the most iconic city along the west coast They came to the city ready to learn and they left with great success and a fun time too!
Until next time, Matt, Jean and the rest of the Aperture Academy Team
Until Next Time,
Brian, Matt and the rest of the 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.
NOTE: You can see more workshop photos below the comments here.