The city of San Francisco is alive both day and night, teeming with photographic material just waiting to be captured. The night owls class is one of the most popular classes that we offer and for good reason. Whether you are a beginner or a master of all things camera, night photography is a perfect balance between creative expression and straight photography. The thing most of us love about night photographing is that it allows us to capture the scene in a way that is otherwise invisible to the naked eye.
Brian and I started the workshop off with a short introduction to break the ice and get to know 12 talented photographers in Sausalito. After learning a little bit about our new friends it was getting dark fast so we piled into the Aperture Van and headed up the hill to start our night.
The Marin Headlands offers some of the best locations to view the Golden Gate Bridge and the city lights beyond. We started the night off by going through some basic composition and exposure techniques. The bridge lights glowed a bright orange in the fading blue light. A wonderful contrast of warm and cool colors surrounded the bustling city as we took some long exposures to blur the headlights of the cars and emphasize the colors. The great thing about night photography is that you never really know what is cooking inside the camera until the exposure is finished.
Our next stop after Marin was the Palace of Fine Arts. As we and made our way around the outside perimeter, a vibrant yellow structure with likeness of ancient Greece, began to emerge. We set up our tripods on the other side of the reflection pool and began by using small apertures and very long shutter speeds to get the desired effects. Just before leaving Brian demonstrated some light painting on a nearby tree to brighten up certain areas of the scene and add depth to the foreground.
From the Palace we moved to Lombard Street, said to be the most crooked street in the world and one of the steepest roads in San Francisco. There are eight back-to-back sharp turns here. The technique here is a long exposure. The moving cars whizzing by create long red and white streaks of color and the city lights make a perfect backdrop. We split into two groups here with one group looking down the street capturing the taillights and another looking up for the headlights.
When everyone had had his or her fill of the gauntlet we were ready for a taste of the second most famous bridge in San Francisco, the Bay Bridge. We arrived at the Embarcadero just after 11:00 PM for some more nighttime fun. Fit with a dazzling light show the Bay Bridge is a sight to see. We positioned our tripods along the bay near some old wooden pilings for a foreground. A long exposure here emphasizes the bright lights of the bridge and also blurs the water moving in between the pilings creating a smooth, silky appearance.
Until Next Time,
Brian, Phil, 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. (More photos below the comments.)