California went through quite the drought. When the rain finally started to return I think people forgot how disruptive it could be. We had a period of time for about 5-6 years where we rarely had rain interfere in any way with any of our workshops. The past two years it seems that the rain has returned with a vengeance. This puts us at the mercy of the weather man and his/her predictions. A steady rain fell over the city Saturday morning before Joe Azure and I were set to start our Marin Headlands workshop. 6 wonderfully adventurous photographers set at the ready, waiting to learn more about photography...and enjoy a day in the city. THe forecast called for rain in the morning...easing off by 2:45 in the afternoon.
The first part of our day puts us in the wonderful Fort Point where we’re able to stay out of the weather and really work on the learning. We’re inside until about 4pm...so if the weather forecast remains correct...our class will have all it needed to enjoy a day in the city! After a brief orientation our group heads out under an intimidating downpour to the fort. Once inside the fort Joe and I split the group up to see a few of our favorite locations. We take them to a long hall of doorways. Here we’re able to work on composition..utilizing repetition of shape, symmetry, and leading lines. We can cover the basics like aperture and shutter speed and ISO...the inside lighting allows us to also deal with white balance as well. We can cover it all here! The rain kept most of the crowds away, so we had an easier time navigating our class throughout the halls and corridors of this Civil War era fortress.
We also visit one of the many stone hallways in the fort. The rains had left a sheen on the stone that helped pull a lot of the color and gave an added level of depth to the images. Now that we’d moved outside, we were able to again address compositional ideas, as well as how the new light changed exposure, and white balance.
The 3rd spot in the fort is the old powder room. Here a cold dark room holds hundreds of replica powder barrels. We work on changing up depth of field here, working with shallow depths of field, selective focus, and again more white balance shifts as we move back inside.
Once the meat of the fort has been tackled we like to give the group some time to explore the fort on their own. We helped to guide them to the right spots, and then find the photographers in the depths of the walls and go over the needed settings to help them realize their visions. Pools of water on the 3rd floor really provided some great reflections of the stone archways and textures. This is one of the true beautiful side effects of the rain.
As we departed the fort, the rain, as promised began to let up considerably...and by the time our lunch stop in Sausalito was complete..it was gone. We drove off to Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands to set up to work on some long exposure water photography with the sea stacks and moving surf. The rain, believe it or not actually helps with this kind of shooting. It keeps a lot of the dust from the sand and cliffs out of the atmosphere, and allows us to shoot without having to wipe the lenses nearly as often.
The sky was still moody and cool...but hints of orange glittered on the horizon as the end of the storm made its way to California. Joe and I worked with the group to get their compositions set up, utilizing the rocky foreground to get water rushing in and around the dark stone. We helped them to get the longest exposures needed to get smooth silky water...this often meant using a graduated filter to help balance the exposure.
We saw a lot of really nice images on the cameras. It was AWESOME that the weather had let us venture out and capture this beautiful scene.
Typically the final stop of our workshop is above the Golden Gate Bridge, working on some twilight shooting...but the bridge often has its own weather...and we were unable to see the great bridge. This can happen even on the nicest of days. The fog does what it wants on the bridge and sometimes we pay the price! It was only a little disappointing though, because the whole rest of the day had yielded some really nice images, and everyone was able to get out and make some new friends, and learn more about photography!
Until Next Time,
Brian, Joe, 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.