San Francisco is arguably the second most iconic city in the US behind NYC. There's so much to see and so much to photograph it's often hard to figure out where to go first. At the Aperture Academy we help to take some of that mystery out of it, and we stick around for the entire day to help make sure everyone gets all of his or her photographic education taken care of as well.
While our class had a wide variety of experience levels, they were all on the same page in terms of enthusiasm. Jean Day, and I were both excited to work with them throughout the day. New instructor Paul Porter was long for the fun as well making us quite the team for a fun day of photography.
Our first stop was right in our meeting place at Baker Beach. We walked down the beach and set up shop near a large group of wake surfers. Between the nice view of Golden Gate Bridge and the surfers there was ample subject matter for the lenses to capture. Jean, Paul, and I walked among the group to help with camera settings, and offer up composition tips. It was a lot of fun to shoot, and before we knew it we HAD to move on in order to make sure we covered all of the spots we needed to hit for the day.
The second stop was the wonderful old Civil War era Fort Point. Once inside these ancient brick walls we break up into two smaller groups and show the class around fort, stopping at a few of our favorite locations. One of the locations we love to show the class is the endless doorways' of the officer's quarters. These doorways offer us not only awesome compositions but also chances to work with indoor lighting, white balance, and the normal aperture/shutter speed relations. It's a great spot for teaching. We also hit a similar location with the outdoor brick archways. This offers some of the same compositional elements as the officer's quarters, but different white balance and exposure techniques. The final spot we teach is the powder room. The repetition of numerous barrels stacked throughout the dimly lit room provides yet more opportunities to work on composition and the required settings.
Once we've covered the required spots, we turn the group loose to explore on their own. The fort has SO much to offer that it's really fun for the class to get out and explore. We found that at this time of year the lower sun shines in the windows of the top floor and bathes the bricks in subtle warmth that was quite striking in the photographs. We also really encourage the students to get to the top of the fort for a different angle of the Golden Gate than is typically seen by most tourists (or even locals!)
Our time in the fort FLIES by and after we gather the group its time to head to Sausalito for some nice food and a much earned break.
We don't stop the move for long! It's eat eat eat and then off to Rodeo Beach for some sunset sea shooting. We ran into a group of students from our class the night before on their way back from shooting our location….small world! Once our gang of photographers is on scene, it's time for a quick group shot (and KUDOS to this crew for falling in line the first time and NAILING their group shot) and then it's time to shoot silky water and sunset. Jean, Paul and I work with the composition, timing, and filter selections for this shot prior to sundown, so when the light is best everyone is geared up and ready to shoot.
There were no clouds in the area, but the light was warm and nice, and every one got the right concepts and some really nice images…and those same concepts will carry through no matter what the weather is throwing their way.
Our last stop for the night is a little peek into our night owls course. We stop at the Golden Gate Bridge overlook and everyone gets to work on grabbing a stellar shot of the bridge lit up. This time of year is extra nice as the city is glowing brighter with Christmas lights, and the cold, crisp, winter air makes the clarity much nicer. It's stunning to see in person and the shots on the backs of the student cameras were really nice as well. The settings are nice because it allows us to teach even more concepts like long exposure and night-white balance. This course is a true crash course in all kinds of different lighting.
The only thing left for our enthusiastic photographers to do now was head home and process their images, and keep practicing!
Until Next Time,
Brian, Jean, Paul 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.