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It was said by someone that they'd left their heart in San Francisco. On foggy days in the city, it looks like they probably lost their heart, not just left it. On Saturday, a group of eager photographers met their Aperture Academy instructors Brian Rueb and Scott Davis hoping to lose not their hearts, but a bit of the mystery surrounding their cameras or photography.
The fog on Baker Beach was so thick that the mighty Golden Gate was reduced to nothing less than the bottom portion of one tower. It's not great for photography when your subject is playing hard to get. However, at the Aperture Academy, we've planned the day with more than one option should we get stuck with a fog that makes life difficult.
Our group began the day in Fort Point. A beautifully old piece of architecture located beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. While the fort is no longer an important piece of military defense for the United States, it still serves as a reminder to the quality and aesthetics that fortresses were built with in the early part of our history.
Once inside the fort, our group split in to smaller groups and the instructors worked with the individuals to show them a few of their favorite areas of the structure and work with them on composition, shutter speeds and aperture settings.
While many students had a good grasp on most of the basics, it's always good to have some different perspectives and hear other ways of explaining it. Many of the newer students appreciate the learning, and the more experienced students usually pick up a thing or two as well. The great thing about photography is that learning is so much easier when you're walking around an old brick structure exploring an old powder room full of wooden barrels, endless hallways of doorways, or cold damp brick corridors. Photography is a visual medium, and learning it in a rich visual environment is important.
Once the group had been given some lessons and were shown around the fort for a couple hours, it was time to let them loose for a bit of exploration on their own. Instructors walked around to make sure they still had help if needed, but this was a chance for them to find their own special compositions in the fort and practice what they'd been told in the earlier parts of the day.
When the fort was finished, it was off for a brief lunch break in Sausalito...and on the way to the stop it was clear that the fog that plagued the earlier portions of the workshop was starting to change position and create some dramatic conditions in the area.
When the break was over, Scott made the decision for the group to make a stop atop the Marin Headlands to capture the fog as it was clinging to survive around the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a gorgeous scene that showed off the skyline, the bridge and the fog that has become an iconic part of the city by the bay.
While the bridge area was starting to clear of fog, the Rodeo Beach portion of the headlands was in no such hurry to give up its cloak. The area was socked in with a dense and cool fog. While fog isn't an ideal situation, it can create dramatic and wonderful opportunities for photography, and we aimed to take full advantage of it.
Our group bravely marched out to the location along the coast that shows off some dramatic rock towers and a pristine section of beach. Once the group had set up, the fog began to break enough to allow the sun to create a rich, warm glow over the whole scene and bathe it in golden light. It was spectacular to see and the students all came away with some fantastic images. The group photographed the scene until the point when the sun was gone, and then we walked back to the van in the dark, ready to head to the final spot of the day.
The final location is not only spectacular to see, it also serves as a brief introduction to night photography. The view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the top of the Marin Headlands is great. On this night, the fog had returned to smother the bottom portions of the bridge showing only the towers and city skyline protruding from the sea of clouds attacking the bay. The fog allowed the group to capture a different scene than is typical of this location. The light from the bridge gave the fog a fiery glow and really unique look. The shots the class got from this location were very nice and made a great ending to a perfect day of fun, education and photography in San Francisco. While we don't think there were any hearts lost, or left behind...I think a few people found a soft spot in theirs for photographing it.
Until next time,
Brian, Scott 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.