What did you do with your Friday night? Was it spent exploring parts of San Francisco after dark? Well, that is exactly what Phil and I did this past weekend as we led a great group of photographers on the latest installment of out San Francisco Night Owls Photography Workshop. Our trip started just across the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito, where we all have an opportunity to meet everybody as we load up on coffee and head out in the Aperture Academy Mercedes passanger van, "ApCab".
We cruised in style across the Golden Gate Bridge on our way to the first stop of the night - the always beautiful Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco’s Marina district. We arrived with perfect timing as the sun had dropped below the horizon and there was enough light for everybody to select various compositions and dial in their exposure settings. We work to ensure that everybody is able to dial in the shutter speed, ISO, aperture and white balance settings that will help them all capture stunning images of the buildings reflected in the water. Luck was with, as the stunning architecture revealed itself as the building lighting began to turn on. As a wonderful backdrop, mother nature provided great scattered clouds that painted themselves across the sky, which over the course of the blue hour deepened into a rich midnight blue.
With a successful blue-hour under our belts, the next stop was at the top of the extremely windy Lombard Street. Always a favorite for tourists and photographers alike. Half of the group stayed with me as Phil took the other half down towards the bottom of the iconic city block. From up above, we are able to shoot stunning light trails from the cars as they slowly wind down the hill. This upper view also provide views of the some of the cities iconic skyline elements such as Coit Tower, the Bay Bridge, ad the Transamerica Building. Below us, the rest of the group shoot back up the hill, capturing great images of the winding road as headlight light up the textured brick roadway and flower-covered walls. After everybody gets their shots, we switched ip up to ensure that everybody was able to capture as many compositions as possible. By the time we finish up here, everybody is getting comfortable selecting their desired aperture, ISO and shutter speed settings so that they are capturing the images that they envision.
We make a quick stop in North Beach so people get grab a snack and drink if they like, as there are still two more epic locations on the agenda. The next location on our tour is the every-famous Embarcadero waterfront with the Bay Bridge stretching across the scene in from of us. The old pilings along the waterfront provide great foreground elements with which to work into compositions. They also provide great targets for focusing our cameras and snd capturing a nice wide depth of field using high aperture values and long shutter speeds. Looking over the LCDs of most of the students I could see that everybody was going to come away with some nice shots!
Most night-time photo excursions in San Francisco will include a stop to photograph probably my favorite place in the world - The Golden Gate Bridge. So we head back across The Bridge to the Marin Headlands where we make our last stop of the evening. By this time, everybody are quickly dialing in the settings they need to capture this iconic span in all its glory. The conditions, while a bit breezy, where excellent for this shots. There was a thin marine layer above us that reflected the bridge lights very nicely and I know that everybody came away images that they will be proud of! Just as importantly, it was great to meet a fun bunch of people and that they have the tools necessary to get out there and continue creating amazing images in the dark of the night.
Until Next Time,
Phil, Joe, 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.)