Welcome to sunny San Francisco! That seems like an odd thing to say about a city in the middle of winter, but that's what we found ourselves with on a Saturday in January for our Aperture Academy Marin Headlands Workshop. A group of 9 photographers met Jean Day, myself, and our newest instructor in training Joe Azure for a fun day of learning in and around the Marin Headlands and Golden Gate National Park.
After a brief orientation our group set out on to Baker Beach to work on some of the basics. Though we had a group of participants that ranged in experience level it's always good to get started right in and shooting. For the newer photographers we work on learning aperture, shutter speed, and ISO...while with the more experienced shooters we start with histograms and compositional suggestions.
Baker Beach on a warm day is ALWAYS interesting, and though I swore they put out an anti-nudity ordinance in the city...I think not everyone got that memo. Always strange to try and photograph with naked people ambling about with no fears about covering up, or the fact 12 cameras are pointing in their direction.
Thankfully our second stop is naked person free. Fort Point the beautiful Civil War era garrison is one of my favorite stops because I always find something new and exciting inside...even after about 100 different visits. Once inside we break our group up into two smaller patrols. Joe and Jean take those with a little more experience, while I take a group who are getting more familiar with the manual settings, and working with their cameras. Both groups visit the same areas, and we cover a lot of information not only on lighting, shutter speed, and aperture, but also composition, white balance, and the other necessities to shooting indoors. Compositionally we work a lot with repetition of shape, and with symmetry inside the fort...there are some really great examples of this all throughout the fort. From the endless doorways in the officer's quarters, to the rows of barrels in the gunpowder storage room the fort is really a lot of fun for finding these compositional elements.
The first half of our time in the fort is devoted to working with the class closely to go over settings, and help practice different techniques...but the last half of the time in Fort Point the class is free to wander and explore and find their own favorite spots. Jean, Joe and me walk around and offer suggestions and help answer any technical suggestions that they might have as they try to put what we've talked about into practice. One of the coolest things we found during this time was a dark corridor of the upper level of the fort that was being lit by some warm bounce light from outside...it created this almost magical cathedral type feel. Everyone had a field day here watching the light change and capturing some nice images.
Photography takes a lot out of you, and once we finish the fort we move into Sausalito for a lunch break, and recharging our batteries before heading off to photograph sunset.
Sunset though cloudless was still pretty, and we worked with the class on composition, and the settings needed to get the slow moving water. Everyone likes that silky water shooting and once the sun drops below the horizon it's time to get some really great shots. Throughout the shoot we cover the use of graduated neutral density filters and polarizers to help with this process.
When the sunset light has faded we move off for one last shot. The Golden Gate Bridge. While we don't cover a great deal of night photography on this class, it's always fun to get a little taste of this kind of shooting, and having a model as great as the Golden Gate Bridge makes it that much better!
Everyone got a few really nice shots of the bridge to put a cherry on the top of a great day of shooting. Though we could use the rain, having a winter day this beautiful was really a treat for all involved. On behalf of Jean, Joe and the Rest of the Aperture Academy thanks to all of our participants for a great day!
Until Next Time,
Brian, Jean, 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.
NOTE: You can see more workshop photos below the comments here.