The city, and the surrounding area of San Francisco, are pretty perfect for photography. There are few cities in the United States that offer abundant coastlines, redwood forests, and modern metropolis, so close that a mere 10-minute drive can take you from one beautiful location to the other.
The city has a rich history, too. One of military importance, and one that best exemplifies our American spirit of individualism. And, for just a scant eight hours, we try to take groups of photographers to locations that highlight the diversity of these things available to see in the infamous city by the bay.
This workshop is kind of a tour of our favorite spots. Aron and I met up with our fun and eager photography group in Sausalito, and after our round of introductions, our group seemed quite eager to hit the road and see what we had in store for them.
Our first stop of the afternoon was to Fort Point, nestled neatly beneath the southern span of the Golden Gate bridge. Built in the 1850s by the Army Corps of Engineers, in its day, the fort was a garrison to troops and artillery for protection of the entrance to the bay.
There's a lot of history to be photographed there. Aron and I split our large group into two small ones, each of us leading our group to a few of our favorite places, highlighting both the architecture and the history of this place as we went. We also walked them through everything from basic camera settings, to how to shoot in fully manual mode.
Parts of the fort are particularly dark, so tripods and longer exposures are most definitely needed, and were used. These circumstances also allow us to do some pretty cool things, like make ghostly images of ourselves or other people. With the right shutter speed, the movement of the person in front of the camera blurs, creating a ghost-like effect. How perfect for a 160 year old fort?!
After visiting a couple spots in the fort, is was time to take a few photos on the fort. On top of the fort, that is... there is a magnificent view of the Golden Gate and the Marin Headlands from the top level.
Fort Point isn't extremely big, but we always make sure to spend a good amount of time there, to allow our groups to have a little free time to explore on their own. We stayed right up until closing, and after that, folks were ready for some food!
So, we headed off to Sausalito for a dinner break. After Aron and I kicked back a few lamb burgers (really, just one a piece), and the rest of our group was filled with some of the best food in town, we headed out again, this time to Rodeo Cove.
Rodeo Cove is home to Rodeo Beach, which would be our sunset spot for the evening. With the tide slowly going out, we walked out onto the beach down to the sea stacks. The sea stacks are three huge pyramid-shaped rocks, just a few yards from shore. They were perfect subjects for our sunset composition. Aron and I hopped around between our participants, taking questions and giving advice on composition and settings.
As the magic hour crept closer, we brought out filters and dispersed them to those who wanted to try and use them. (There is never a substitute for a good ol' graduated neutral density filter.) So, Aron and I explained how to use ND filters to balance the exposure between the very bright sky, and the not so bright sand and water.
Even though we didn't really have dynamic weather, the resultant glow left behind by sunset is always nice on a clear day, with the right white balance.
We slogged back to the van, some of us drier than others, to take in the final view of the evening...
There is a road that traverses the bluffs above the Pacific across from the bridge. Along this road are at least five really awesome spots to capture both the Golden Gate and the glimmering city behind it. As we made our way up through the hilly pass, there's always a fear that fog will be on the other side and ruin our night. But Karl (the fog) did not want to come out and play, so we were left to photograph an awesome, unobstructed view of the city and bridge, with all the glorious lights at night. It was spectacular!
The added moisture in the air wasn't quite enough to condense into fog, but it was enough to add a beautiful glowing effect around every major light source, which made the images look pretty cool. After everyone got multiple shots of the scene, it was a little past time to end the workshop. We seriously can never finish on time, but that's good news for everybody... it means more awesome photos!
Until next time,
Scott, Aron, 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.