San Francisco & Marin Headlands Photography Workshop | April 4-5th, 2010

San Francisco & Marin Headlands Photography Workshop - April 4th & 5th, 2009

We have a great time on our workshops, and these two were no exception! Following is a summary of the two workshops we held in the San Francisco Bay and Marin Headland areas on Saturday and Sunday. (One 8-hour in-field class each day.)

We started the day at Baker Beach, famous for its iconic views of the west side of the Golden Gate Bridge. The weather was picture perfect (ok, pun intended). We hiked down the beach a short distance and used our first hour working on some basic fundamentals. We worked with composition and shutter speed to create different effects with the crashing surf. This time was also a good opportunity to get to know one another and for Brian and myself to learn the various skill levels of our students, and help instruct on the areas that each of them wanted to focus on specifically.

As usual for this time of year, the light at mid-day was bright, flat and difficult to work in, so from Baker Beach, we carpooled to Fort Point, located at the base of the Golden Gate's south tower. Fort Point is a labrynth of dimly lit cannon turrets, old arches, and military living quarters that are quite dramatic with their interesting colors and textures. The many archways and twisting stairs made for some great eye-leading compositions and the murky lighting created an old and mysterious mood to the scene. Fort Point's variety of shadows and textures made for a great place to spend the afternoon working on longer, tripod mounted exposures, detailed composition... and black and white images.

Upon leaving Fort Point, we made our way up and over the Golden Gate Bridge and high up into the hills of the Marin Headlands. The weather was amazing and it was so clear, we could see for miles. The spectactular vista made for some rare photographic opportunities of the Golden Gate Bridge, with the city clearly in the background. Giant cargo ships passing under the bridge added to the immense scale of the scene.

From the vista point, we headed over the hill and down into the green rolling hills of the far west side of the Marin Headlands. The beautiful view seemed to go on forever as we made our way to the ocean, and to Rodeo Beach.

After a short hike along the beach, we arrived at a cluster of monolythic sea stacks, our destination for sunset shooting. While we waited for the sun to approach the horizon, we experimented with neutral density filters, specifically how to achieve 1/3 second exposures in the bright sun, to capture the 10+ foot spray of the ocean surf as it crashed onto nearby rocks. It made for a lot of fun and some great action images!

As the sun reached the horizon, we all turned our sights toward the sea stacks, first capturing some silhouette images, then, once the sun had set, some colorful, gradient skies. We used graduated ND filters to control the exposure, which allowed us to capture great foreground detail that otherwise we would have missed.

With sunset photos in our cameras, and the sun down for the day, we headed back up to the top of the hill to photograph the Golden Gate bridge all lit up in the night sky. We took long exposures at higher apertures for some nice lighting effects. Because of the great weather, the city lights were crystal clear and really made for some great iconic images. Rather reluctant to leave the fantastic view, we packed up and returned to Baker Beach, concluding this photography tour...and looking forward to the next!

Until next time!

Stephen & Brian

P.S. If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.

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