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San Francisco/Marin Headlands Photography Workshop - April 14th, 2012

Photography Workshop Students with Aperture Academy at San Francisco and Marin Headlands

The weather smiled on us this particular weekend. For 5 days prior, heavy rain and wind and even the odd lightning and thunderstorm had been unleashed upon the California Bay area. So it was with open arms that our Aperture Academy San Francisco/Marin Headlands workshop attendees welcomed the sunny skies.

Coincidently, it wasn't just our group that welcomed the warming trend and sunny skies as we made our way down Baker Beach, our first shoot location for the day. As we made our way to the far end of the beach, it became comically obvious that many of the nudists of San Francisco were out in full force as well despite the rather nippy winds that were blowing off the ocean. So with our self-imposed blinders on, we began exercising our photography muscles, working on a multitude of items such as getting out of auto mode and getting our exposure control back by working in full manual mode. A host of other skills were also introduced including deciphering histograms, when to use filters to add contrast and balance exposure, compositional techniques that help prevent naked folks from getting into one's landscape image, and a multitude of other skills.

Following our warm-up stint at Baker Beach, we piled up our gear into the ApVan and took off for a short ride to Fort Point, a unique antiquated military fort dating back to the 1800's that's located just underneath the foot of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. We've chosen this location for its fantastic architecture. With its long corridors, multiple dimly lit arches and columns, and uber close proximity to the Bridge, It's an ideal location to work on compositional techniques, discuss the importance of leading lines, as well as practice tricky exposure control problems. However, upon arrival, we discovered that the upper floors of the picaresque fort were closed off to the public for a few days as they installed new gate railings. Despite the minor setback, we found a plethora of other subject matter around the grounds of the fort, most notably for some, the abundance of kite surfers that were taking advantage of the extreme winds and big waves of the Bay mouth. Landscape techniques were temporarily put aside and high action sports photography techniques were utilized to capture the dynamic big air antics of the surfers. The action was pretty cool, so cool in fact that one of our clients got so excited she attempted to get some big air herself. Unfortunately gravity and a big gate chain had other plans and brought her back down to earth. With cat like reflexes though, she was able to successfully break her fall with her elbow. Not to worry though, a little first aid patch up work from Scott, she was back in action, camera in hand.

The winds were strong and chilly so the next stop was to Sausalito where hot chocolate and a hot meal awaited us at one of the local cafes. Umm Umm good. With belly's full and core temperatures returned to normal, we set off for sunset hour to Rodeo Beach and its thundering wave sets on this day. Neutral density and graduated filters coupled with polarizers came out once again as we worked to balance the tricky sunset exposures. The golden light was our friend. 24 hours prior, the sun had hidden behind thick clouds but for our group on this evening, she treated us to a lovely show. With new skills practiced, Back to the van for the final post sunset location of the day/night.

Located on a turnout of the Marin Headlands sits a wonderful high altitude overlook of the Golden Gate Bridge with the San Francisco night skyline as a backdrop. It's a simply gorgeous viewpoint and it's here that we work on a brief introduction to Night photography techniques. Much more in depth night photography instruction is found in our Night Owls workshop but this place is so close to our San Francisco/Marin Headlands route and the light conditions are perfect so we just have to stop here and grab some images. From the ooohhhs and aahhhs I heard from our folks as the first images began appearing on the backs of their cameras, I'd say it was a good call.

Night was officially upon us as we loaded up in the Van for one last drive back to our vehicles. The sun had come out for us, the clouds had broken, our memory cards full of new images and hopefully new skills tucked away in the brain were acquired to be utilized on future photography outings.

Oh behalf of Scott and Ellie and the rest of the Aperture Academy team, thanks again to everyone for providing such a fun afternoon, sunset and evening of photography and camaraderie. Till next time..

On behalf of Scott and Ellie and the entire Aperture team, we wish to thank everyone for braving the weather and spending a fun day of photography with us. Until next time....

If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.

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