Oh the wonders of San Francisco. There are so many fantastic places to see, and such a rich, vibrant culture…at all times of day. While the city certainly has its share of hustle and bustle during the day; it's the night where the sounds, and beauty of the city really comes to life. Capturing some of that beauty with the camera is a lot of fun, and also quite challenging to photographers.
Scott Donschikowski and I met a small group of photographers in Sausalito for a brief orientation, and a full evening of learning the ins and outs of night photography. While your brain would want you to believe that winter would be the coldest time to visit the city; winter is actually the most pleasant, consistent time of year. Just part of the crazy that is San Francisco!
Our first stop was the Palace of Fine Arts. This structure has probably some of the most unique architecture in the city. We like to march our group out to the edge of the pond where we can get a great shot of the warm glow of the building and the wonderful reflected colors in the pool. Here we also begin our instruction. We cover the basics of exposure, shutter speed, use of the bulb setting in the high contrast of this scene leads us to also have some discussion about the post-processing side of things, and different ways to approach that aspect.
The photos are always the best part…seeing the class not only come away with some spectacular images, but also learning how to make them.
Our next stop is Lombard Street, here we're able to take our small group as one to a couple locations where we work on the ins and outs of shooting headlights and taillights as they meander down the brick street. The key for this shot is the long exposure, which allows anything moving within the image to streak, or blur. In this case the lights from the cars are the only thing that show up, leaving great leading lines, and ‘S' curves to guide the viewers eye through the image.
This is where the class really begins to realize their learning and see results. Scott and I now begin to focus more on providing tips and ideas on composition. After our time on Lombard Street comes to an end we move down to the waters' edge and shooting the Bay Bridge. Here we set up and again work on capturing the beauty of the Bay with the wonderfully lit bridge dominating our shots. The old pier pilings here make an epic foreground subject as well. We're lucky that clouds are in the sky to help pull in a little more light and give the sky some more interest. A night heron also provides some entertainment as he perches on the pilings, and occasionally breaks free of his version of mannequin challenge to grab a passing fish.
What night class would be complete without a stop at the Golden Gate Bridge? By this time the class has really gotten their stuff together, and it's just a matter of Scott or myself reminding them why we're doing what we do…and offering up a bit of composition tweaking. Really great work on the backs of those cameras! The clouds in the area really help give some drama to the scene, and provide some nice streaking throughout the longer exposure times.
They were a small group, but they were a great group! Scott and I really enjoyed all of the time we spent with them and the hard work they put into learning their craft.
Until Next Time,
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.
NOTE: You can see more workshop photos below the comments.