The San Francisco Botanical Garden is an incredible oasis on the outer edge of a spectacular cityscape. Covering an astounding 55 acres, the Garden contains over 8,000 species of plants and is a perfect backdrop for our Aperture Academy workshop.
On this particular Saturday morning Phil Nicholas and I met with 7 very enthusiastic students eager to learn about plant and flower photography, and specifically, Macro photography. We were excited to see that the infamous San Francisco weather was on our side, providing near-perfect condition for this type of shooting. The heavy fog is a natural sun filter giving us nice, even lighting and leaving behind stunning water droplets to collect on leaves, flower petals, and spider webs.
After quick introductions, Phil goes over some of the basics of photography. He talks about the exposure triangle and how aperture, shutter speed, and ISO can affect your photo. Then he explains composition and how to use the Rule of Thirds and leading lines to create dynamic and visually pleasing shots. We have the students get their cameras ready with some initial settings, answer a few quick questions, and soon we are underway.
As we make our way past the Great Meadow and into the South Africa region of the garden, it doesn't take long for our first specimen to catch our eye. Along the path, there are beautiful Belladonna Lilies blooming in colors ranging from light pink to almost magenta. The lilies are intermingled with various species of Aloe plant, which provides a nice green contrast and variety of texture. Phil and I do a quick check in with our budding photographers to make sure they are starting out with the right settings, and then turn them loose to try it out. Everyone quickly finds somewhere to set up and soon they are snapping away. Phil and I work with each student to provide a few critiques and offer suggestions for different compositions, concentrating on modifying depth of field to get gorgeous Bokeh in the backgrounds.
There is a lot more to see, so we keep our group moving through the garden, each region providing its own unique and varied specimens. There is so much to choose from as we transition from New Zealand flora to the mirror-like water in the Moon Viewing Garden, that our students are really getting to test out their new-found skills in a wide variety of conditions. Phil and I continue to work with each student, reviewing their photos, and it is clear that we have a very talented group.
As the saying goes, "Time flies when you're having fun", and all too soon it is time to say goodbye. We gather for one last group shot, to answer some final questions, and then send our students on their way with happy smiles and full memory cards.
Until next time,
Phil, DeAnna and the entire 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.