The Big Sur coastline is arguably one of the prettiest stretches of coastline in the United States. Jagged rocks, turquoise blue water, and towering cliffs. There’s so much to see in this area and that’s just the natural beauty…when you factor in this area has some of the most well preserved Spanish missions as well the amount of photography options is overwhelming.
Phil and I met a group of 11 eager photographers outside of Carmel for a fun day of photography education in one of the best areas in the state! After a brief orientation we set off for the nearby Carmel Mission. This historic mission is one of my favorite places for photography. There are so many small details here that make for great shots, and the flowers here thrive, and are changing constantly. There are always new flowers blooming every month.
Phil and I went over a lot of the basics of photography once we arrived. This included Aperture, shutter speed, and ISO and how the 3 relate, and also how to develop a system so that newer photographers can follow a routine to make sure they are understanding how to proceed with manually setting up their exposures.
Aperture---Shutter Speed----ISO if necessary is the routine.
Repetition of shape, complimentary colors, contrast, big scenes, little scenes, the fort has it all. 2 hours doesn’t seem like nearly enough time! It flew by! Once everyone was back in the van we loaded up and set off south for a stop at the wondrous stone Bixby Bridge. This iconic piece of the highway 1 is a must stop, not only to marvel at the sheer magnitude of the engineering that went into making the bridge, but also photographing the coastline and great cloudy sky we had.
We talked polarizers, composition, and how to implement a grad-filter here as well to help balance out some very tricky, contrasty light. I like to under expose here and really use the light values of the bridge to be my primary focal point in terms of tone…I saw a lot of folks doing similar things here as well.
From the bridge to the tropical McWay Falls, our crew of happy photographers made their way yet farther south. Here we went into depth on using grad filters and ND filters to help reduce the amount of light that reached our sensors, and giving us longer exposures to blur the water. We saw some awesome longer exposures here with the class…and they sky was bright as could be! Fun to learn new ways to capture light!
Our regularly scheduled stop at Pfieffer Beach was not to be. The storm-a-geddon brought enough rain to flood the road down to the beach…nobody was up for a long hike and swim. Lucky for us the coastal area has numerous beautiful locations to shoot, so we opted to head out to Rocky Point to look up the coast at the sandstone cliffs, and blue water. The ice plant here, while invasive in nature certainly has some nice rich red and green hues (Merry Christmas!) to help give the foregrounds some pop. Here we again covered using the graduated ND filters to help balance the brighter sky from the darker foregrounds…we also encouraged people to play with exposure lengths…while long exposures can help smooth out the water and make it super silky looking…sometimes a slightly shorter exposure will yield some nice detail and contrast with the white of the foam and the wonderful blue of the water…while still providing enough movement to create more aesthetically pleasing images.
The sunset was nice, and the warm light eventually vanished behind the wall of clouds moving its way to shore to bring another storm.
Everyone was great all day, and the time flew by. Phil and I saw a lot of great images on those screens, and really appreciated the enthusiasm and patience everyone had.
Until Next Time,
Brian, Phil and the rest of the Aperture Academy.
P.S. If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.