San Francisco is one of the top tourist destinations in the world. At the top of everyone's list during his or her visit is the iconic and stunning Golden Gate Bridge.
Aperture Academy instructors Scott Donschikowski and Ellie Stone would meet up with an animated group of photographers, at the base of this beautiful bridge. The group gathered in the parking lot at Baker Beach for some introductions. Scott and Ellie listen carefully as each student tells of their experience and expectations for the day's workshop. Once everyone was acquainted, the instructors lead them down the beach to set up and get the workshop underway. Before trudging through the sands however, there was one more little bit of information the students needed to know. This can be a clothing optional beach. Given the gorgeous sunny weather, there was bound to be some more skin showing than usual, on the sunbathers. None of the students felt uncomfortable with this news, so the trek began.
Most tourists don't know about Baker Beach. Baker has some of the most stunning views of the Golden Gate, as seen from the city's Northwest shoreline. With the Pacific's gently crashing waves and golden sand, nature has provided a perfect and natural leading line, creating a well-balanced and classic image. Scott and Ellie worked with everyone on getting that camera out of “program” mode and into the manual mode. Taking control of the aperture, allows from more creativity and therefore more compelling images. Once the students felt comfortable with the exposure and worked on different compositions, it was time to move on to the next shooting location, Fort Point.
In just a short drive, the group is now on the southern side of the bridge, at Fort Point. In 1794 the Spanish had built a mission on the spot where the Fort now stands. The mission Castillo de San Joaquin, was left to crumble in the wind and rain. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began work on the now standing Fort, which helped defend San Francisco against hostile warships. Rich in history and architecture it's a fantastic place for photography. Ellie & Scott led the pupils around to their favorite spots. Inside the fort can be dark, so tripods were a must. Longer exposures coupled with creative points of view would be an agenda priority. The students were really starting to hit their stride, so Scott and Ellie turned them loose in the Fort for the last half hour. Excited to try some of the newly attainted skills, everyone scattered to re-visit prior locations, and also search out some new ones. The clock was ticking and there were still two more amazing locations to visit. Ellie and Scott arranged a fun and creative shot of the entire group, from the Fort's roof, the Golden Gate spanning overhead. After the fun, it was time to head over to the bridge to the Marin Headlands side.
Before continuing on to the final two destinations, the group stopped for a quick bite to eat and enjoyable banter, in Sausalito. Batteries charged, it was time to head out for more stunning captures.
Rodeo Beach was next on the agenda. Nestled in the Marin Headlands, Rodeo Beach is used by sunbathers and surfers alike. It's not uncommon to see photographers on the left end of the beach, which is where the group was headed. In the left most corner of the small beach are some rock formations in the surf, known as Sea Stacks. These stacks provide an interesting element to the images, by bringing interest, texture, and strong compositional elements. Ellie and Scott demonstrated how the use of graduated neutral density filters would balance out the exposure difference between sky and sand. As the sunset and a golden glow ensued, the instructors helped with achieving longer exposures. These exposures would have amazing effects on the receding waves, providing a fantastic sense of motion in the images.
The sun had disappeared and the golden glow was fading. It was time for one last iconic shooting location. Yet another view of the Golden Gate. Staying on the Marin side, the instructors would show the students a stunning bridge view from Hendricks point. As the group arrived and made their way up to the top of the point, the bridge was all-aglow, as the city light twinkled in the background. Not only was the scene gorgeous, but also the weather was equally as gorgeous. The group was engulfed in a warm air pocket that made the finale that much more enjoyable. Even longer shutter speeds now, as the sky was getting dark and the lights from the bridge shimmered on the bay waters below. A few different compositions were utilized encompassing the suburban landscape. It was hard to leave the warm air and breathtaking scene, but it was time to wrap up a whirlwind day of photography and education, and put another successful workshop in the books!
It was a pleasure to have everyone on board for this gorgeous San Francisco day!
Until next time,
Ellie, 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.
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