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San Francisco/Marin Headlands Photography Workshop - August 30th, 2011

San Francisco Photography Workshop Students

"The coldest winter I ever spent, was a summer in San Francisco." This famous quote has been attributed to Mark Twain. On this classic, cold and foggy August summer day, Aperture Academy instructors Ellie Stone and Alicia Telfer, met up with 13 excited students. The quote was on everyone's mind, as they gathered at the meeting place, San Francisco's Baker Beach. A favorite of locals and tourists alike, Baker Beach is the perfect place to start this amazing day of iconic photography locations.

After some quick introductions, where Alicia and Ellie got to know more about their student's skills and expectations, the group kicked off the workshop, and headed down the sands. In just a short walk down the beach, you've got one of the most stunning views of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Ellie and Alicia helped all the students with their camera settings to ensure proper exposure, as well as composition basics. As the fog danced around the Golden Gate, it provided the perfect backdrop for classic and fantastic images. Now the students were feeling comfortable and ready to hit the next location, Fort Point.

Fort Point is just a short drive from Baker Beach and was built just before the American Civil war to defend San Francisco against hostile war ships and is now a protected National Historic site. Run by the National Park service, the fort is not only an interesting historical site, but a photographer's playground. Alicia and Ellie lead the students to a few of their favorite spots within the fort to photograph. The architecture and symmetry provides a great lesson in composition and point of view. Thinking "outside the box" can be a challenge that all photographers face at one point. Thus having an instructor help you, can be invaluable in pushing one's creative standards, and leads to some fantastic images.

After the instructors got the students warmed up, they turned them loose for the remainder of the time, to explore and capture. Climbing the spiral staircases, the students braved the blustery summer winds and were treated with an out of the ordinary view of the Golden Gate. From the roof of Fort Point, whey stood underneath the bridge, with Sausalito as an incredible backdrop. The view is indeed breathtaking and inspiring. Hours had passed, that seemed more like minutes, and therefore it was time for a quick break.

The quaint little town of Sausalito was the destination and after swapping stories and filling bellies, the students and instructors alike were eager to get back out onto the final two iconic destinations. Next stop? Rodeo Beach.

Nestled down within the Marin Headlands, Rodeo Beach has some amazing rock or sea stack formations, just off the sandy shore. The challenge was that classic and ever so heavy San Francisco summer fog. Some would have just skipped this location; however Ellie and Alicia were able to show the students how to deal with these less than ideal conditions. Practicing long exposure techniques and shooting in monochrome would be the main two focal points at this beautiful location. When Mother Nature throws you a curve ball, learning to have patience and persistence is key. Also a positive attitude is a must and will keep you shooting, when others will be sitting in the warm coffee shop.

To finalize the epic day of shooting, the group finished at the Palace of Fine Arts. The Palace of Fine Arts located in the Marina District of San Francisco, is an impressive structure originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in order to exhibit works of art presented there. One of only a few surviving structures from the Exposition, it is the only one still situated on its original site. It was rebuilt in 1965, and with and outstanding reflection pool and meandering walkways. Ellie and Alicia arrived with their students just in time for the blue hour. While many photographers have heard of the Golden hour (the short time just after sunrise and just before sunset), many have not heard of the blue hour. That time just before sunrise and shortly after sunset, when the sky is filled with beautiful shades of purple and blue. The golden lights that illuminate the palace provide the perfect contrast against the foggy blue sky. Longer exposures would bring out much more of the intense blue sky that was even visible to the naked eye. All the students were thrilled to see the results pop up on their cameras LCD screen. The day flew by very quickly, as night official set in; it was time to wrap up this excitement filled day of photography.

Until next time...Ellie, Alicia 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.

 


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