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Remember when you were young and summer was the best time of year? Hopefully you haven't lost your inner child and summer still has special meaning to you. When I was young I couldn't wait for summer to start. I knew that I would be off doing cool stuff, whether it was with family or with friends, or in some cases experiencing new things; summer was the time of year my peers and I spent the whole school year looking forward to. At the Aperture Academy, summer is a special time for us too. And as a person not extremely far removed from the throngs of youth, I feel that we have designed a summer camp that I would have loved, had I possessed a camera! Every day is something new to experience, working with and learning from professional in the field of photography.
Day One: Studio Day
Our first day of the week is in the studio. Every camp we partner with BorrowLenses and give our students a chance to work with high-end professional lighting equipment. But as its also the first day, everyone is a little timid, and nothing loosens everyone up better than making them sit in front of the camera while their peers take photos of them! Thats right, everyone works together in creating images of each other, and its a really great ice-breaker. Mike and I work with them on using all the gear to create awesome looking portraits, and they are also required to get a portrait taken of them, in a lighting style that they choose, and we help them re-create that specific look. Its awesome!
San Francisco is one of the most photogenic cities in the world. And what do you do when its basically in your back yard? You go and take advantage of it, thats what! So we piled in our van and headed north to the city by the bay. New techniques for today included panoramas, and we stopped on Treasure Island to grab some views of the city half-way across the bay. From there we headed up to the Golden Gate bridge and spent some time shooting around the southern end, taking in as many different spots as time would allow. After that we grabbed some lunch in Sausalito, and then made a short hike up to Battery Spencer, where the lookout on the hill provides (arguably) the best view of the Golden Gate. Its pretty windy up there year-round, so after a short time of almost losing our hats, we headed back to the south bay to import our photos and start working.
Every morning, we spend about an hour with the students helping them to use Adobe products like Lightroom and Photoshop to get the absolute best results from the images they have been taking. After all, on Friday they would be hanging their prints for all to see! I digress, today is all about the Zoo. We make it to the Zoo just in time for opening, and we race all the way to the Grizzly Bear Grotto to catch these bears during their feeding, when they're the most active. Today is all about learning how to shoot in different lighting conditions and keeping the shutter speed high enough to get clear, sharp photos. Moving around the zoo, we hit up everything we could. We shot in the broad daylight, the shade, we upped our ISO's indoors and got some photos of macaws and reptiles, and we also shot some fast moving monkeys!
Day Four: Big Sur
Today was a little different, Mike and I decided to switch things up and head south to Big Sur, instead of going to Santa Cruz. The Big Sur coastline should be a natural wonder, just amazing. We headed all the way down to McWay Falls and taught the kiddos how to shoot a long exposure scene without a tripod. Its a little said than done, but teaching them the right techniques goes a long way. From there we grabbed some lunch and shot a bunch of places on the way back up north. We did panoramas at the Bixby Bridge, and this weeks group was way into portrait photography, so along the coast amongst the extremely numerous wildflowers, they spent a lot of time modeling and taking pictures of themselves. But the coastline is definitely the star of the show, and wasn't lost on them one bit!
As the shooting part of the week comes to a close, the processing part moves into full swing as we try to get our students ready to print their images and then hang them on the wall for their gallery show. The morning consisted of Mike and helping everyone to cull through their favorite images, and then we always end up going through ALL of their images from the week to see if they might have missed anything interesting. Hint: they always do. So now they start to finalize their collection of print ready images, and by this time, we are all ready for a break. So, lunch! After lunch, we get everyone to complete processing their selections for print, and we break them up into teams for a photo scavenger hunt. The hunt is to test their knowledge of the skills they learned from the prior days. It also gives Mike and I a chance to print all the photos and setup an area where they can learn to matte and bag them prior to hanging. The winning team of the scavenger hunt got to choose where their photos would be hung, and soon enough with all the photos on the wall and lit, it was time for the show!
Parents, friends and other family arrived around 5:30 and without further adieu, Mike and I revealed the photos for their gallery show to the amazement of our new guests! Its amazing to see how far these kids have come in just five short days. This particular group was very interested in process of Photoshop, and we had an awesome array of photos that blew Mike and I away with the level of creativity this group possessed. Its always a little sad that it has to come to an end. Thanks so much to all our students, and to also to their very supportive family and friends! We hope to see you again soon!
Until next time,
Scott, Mike, 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.