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San Francisco, There is a lot to see there. Some would argue that next to New York City it's the most iconic city in the United States. It brings people from all over the globe to see it and take part in what makes it special. For some, they want to remember their trip with photographs. This is where we come in. At the Aperture Academy, we bring professional photographers together with people who want to spend some of their time in the city seeing and capturing that magic on camera. What's more they want to understand why and how that process is done.
An eager group of photographers met instructors Brian Rueb and Scott Davis on a pre-storm Baker Beach for a day of photography, and fun in San Francisco. Even though the storm was on its way in that doesn't mean there can't be great photography to be had. The class wandered down the beach for their introductory spot of the day. The first spot of the day is designed to give our instructors a chance to get to know the students a bit more, what kind of gear they've brought with them, and really work with some of the newer photographers with the manual settings on the camera. For our more advanced students, we begin to work with them on how to approach a highly shot scene as this in a more creative manor. We don't stay long though, the other spots we have on deck are even better! We load up into the “ApCab” and we're history!
Speaking of history, what better way to mix history and photography than the Civil War era garrison, Fort Point. The old brick fort is a piece of San Francisco history that many locals don't ever visit. Not only is it a beautiful piece of our nations defense systems but it provides very interesting ways to teach concepts of compositions mixed with the technical aspects to bring out the best in the photos. We're everywhere! Inside looking down long hallways of identical doorways and working with our white balances and higher f-stops, or inside a dark room full of old powder barrels using larger apertures to create focal points that use a shallow depth of field to provide interest. This fort has more to offer than our instructors are able to show a class, even if we had an entire day. The best way for students to get the best out of this location is to turn them loose. Brian and Scott release the class to explore on their own, and put into practice some of the tips and instructions they've gathered in the first portion of the day. The teachers walk around to help with any questions, and offer suggestions of other nooks and crannies they might want to explore. The sun even made an appearance here and gave the class some nice white clouds and blue skies to use when they shot the Golden Gate Bridge from the roof of the fort.
The class meets back up close to 5pm, and then it's time for a break for a late lunch and early dinner. Sausalito is the perfect place for our weary students to recharge their energy and get to know their classmates a bit more. We don't stay long though, photography is the focus of the day, and we shoot to provide the class with as many opportunities as we can push into an eight-hour class!
Rodeo Beach is a great place for photography. Giant sea stacks rise from the sea to give us a chance to create interesting seascape images that look as if they could be from anywhere. It's hard to believe you're only a few miles from a city of several million people. We set the class up to use the rocks on the beach as foreground interest to balance the beautiful sea stacks that dominate the top portion of our images. Then the goal is to use a longer exposure and use the movement created by the receding waves to draw the eye through the image. Even though we had overcast skies, the clouds were still providing layers to our images, and the dark moody skies brought out the best of the bluish green water. Both instructors were very impressed with the images they saw on the backs of the cameras. The location provides a lot to work with; the compositions, the settings to create the best images, white balance, etc. When the waves are roaring in, it adds a whole different element to the location. The waves on this day were CRASHING violently on the rocks and sending blasts of spray all over the beach. It was exhilarating to see in person, and through the lens.
Although we didn't get that epic magical sunset we hoped for, we did see the beach in a very moody and aesthetically pleasing light that all were happy with. While walking back from the beach the first few drops of rain began to fall. The storm was arriving. We still had time to try one last spot though!
Golden Gate Bridge from the top of the Marin Headlands is spectacular. It looks as if you can reach right out and touch the bridge (although we strongly advise against trying it) It glows magically as it connects the headlands to the main part of San Francisco. During this twilight time the orange and red of the bridge stands out against the blue hues in the sky, creating complimentary colors, which are a very strong compositional element. For many students this time is the first exposure they've had to photography after the light of day has gone. It's a little taste of what we do on our Night Owls workshop.
This spot concludes the day. Lots of learning, laughing, and photography had taken place and the class came away with some really nice images of the various stops. Whether it was a sweeping seascape, or one of the intimae details inside Fort Point, there were tons of really great images that demonstrated that the students had pushed their levels further that day, and learned much. We spent a day dodging the storm, and had come out victorious!
Until next time...Scott, Brian 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.