I used to see images of the Big Sur coastline when I was younger and I just assumed it was somewhere in Italy. When I found out it was in California, I had to photograph it...I think that's the way everyone must feel because Big Sur is one of our most popular 1-day workshops.
Scott Donschikowski and I met 11 eager photographers in Carmel for a brief orientation and a full day of photography exploration and instruction. Our first stop is the historic Carmel Mission. This place is a playground for cameras, I love it here. I always see something new. New flowers are blooming, new textures, new patterns, new shadows created by the light...it's awesome. Scott and I start slow here and help the group start to understand their cameras. How does Aperture, shutter speed, and ISO work together? What are these different shooting modes? How do filters work? These are all things we want to address while helping the group to create dynamic and interesting photographs. I can't believe how fast the time flies here, it seems as we've just scraped the surface of all this place has to offer it's time to leave.
We drive down Highway 1 looking at the breathtaking views, and vistas as we make our way to McWay Falls. If you showed most people this waterfall, and asked them where it was located. I think you'd hear tropical locations mentioned more than anywhere in California. It's amazing. One of 2 spots in California where a waterfall flows directly to the sea, it's an absolute must see. The water is a beautiful turquoise blue. There's even a palm tree for good measure. Scott and I help the class get set up, then I take turns with a few of the group letting them see how my Breakthrough Technology 6-Stop ND filter helps to hold back the light so that they can blur the water and the falls in their images. THese filters and graduated neutral density filters can all help to achieve an aesthetic that most mid-day images can not possibly provide. We spent about an hour here enjoying the view and working on creating the longest exposures possible.
Sunset tonight we decide to make the drive to Soberantes Cove. This little gem is our goto spot when Mother Nature decides to flood the road heading to Pfieffer Beach. Here we have blue water, coastal sea-stacks, and all the same elements we would have at Pfeiffer...we just have a little higher vantage point looking up the Big Sur Coastline. THe goal again here is to slow down our shutter speeds and work to create dreamy seascape images where the water is smoothed out. This requires another reteaching of the higher aperture, lower ISO rules we'd been preaching most of the day. It's nice to see the light bulbs begin to shine as the group begins to make sense of these aspects of exposure. The group is able to walk themselves through the exposure, and begin to understand why they are doing what they do….it's really fun to behold!
The sun has to set at some point, unfortunately and that means it's time to make the short drive back up 1 to Carmel. This was a great group, full of laughs, and stories...Scott and I had a great time. For those of you who joined us for 2 or 3 days this weekend, thanks so much!
For the rest of you...
Brian, 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.