Jean and I met our group at Baker Beach on a slightly foggy and windy afternoon. I have to say that even then it was looking like a beautiful day. We spend a brief amount of time in orientation getting to know everyone, and more about their gear, and experience levels and where they came from. In doing so we found that we had a lot of various levels of experience going on! It’s great having such a dynamic range of levels, in that it really helps Jean and I to deal with a lot of different aspects of photography, which is beneficial to us as instructors in keeping our own skill sets sharp.
We start out on Fort Godfrey. It’s a good area for working on composition and helping the students who are newer to manual mode get familiar with aperture, shutter speed, and reading a histogram to help examine exposure. It’s also the windiest of places we could possibly take our group to, so in comparison, they feel warm and cozy for the rest of the time they spend with us.
After a very brief time in the wind, we headed straight for good old Fort Point. This Civil War era fort is a treasure trove of different great photo opportunities. Jean and I like to break the group up into smaller pods and then show them four of our favorite spots that deal not only with different types of lighting, but also some great compositional elements. Indoor lighting, mixed indoor and outdoor lighting, and good old fashioned outdoor lighting and textures for those who want to go abstract. The Fort has it all!
After showing the class the best parts of the fort, the last hour is the time for the class to go out and to explore on their own using their newfound skills and find some of their own unique views. Usually they all head straight for the roof, and today was no exception! Jean and I walk around looking for the class to see what kind of shots they’ve come up with and what questions that might have come up. Gail force winds awaited all who braved the rooftop, but the photo ops were plentiful.
Lunch is the next stop...time to get a little awesome tasting fuel for the last part of the day and to warm up under the sunshine in Sausalito! It’s a good time for us to catch up on different aspects of photo conversation too. Many people have great stories and it’s a fun time to sit back and listen to where people have traveled and swap stories of photo-related road trips.
Sunset was spent on Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands. Once we had our gear unloaded from the ApCab we headed out to the iconic sea stacks to shoot the waves and rocks. The tide starting to come in on this night so we made sure all the students knew to keep a watch going so no one would be taken by surprise by a rogue wave. We worked with graduated neutral density filters here as well as ND Filters and Polarizer Filters. Each adds a different effect to the scene before us. As the light of day fades we try for longer exposures to help give the waves a bit of a blur and movement, and if possible to reduce them to a fine mist.
The wind that was with us all day long, making everyone cold, and craving hot beverages decided to die down at this location. This was probably the only time I have ever come away from this beach with not a single speck of water on any of my images that I took! Everyone was getting great shots and experimenting with differing points of views and exposures. It’s so great shooting this area, because by now the class has totally become one with their cameras and are shooting like pros! The questions turn into ones of a more artistic nature rather than mechanical, and the images being shot are often a lot less directed by the instructors, but are wholly figured out by the participants. Jean and I glow with pride at this point of our day!
Though the fog was with us continually, we found that we had one last stop on our way back to our cars... the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands! It was perfect. The fog was riding high and only touching the top of the red towers. Blue hour was in full swing (the time of day after sunset where because of how the light is shifting the camera sensor picks up a royal cobalt blue). The blue, gold and red tones were playing off each other wonderfully as the tops of the towers created halo effects that were absolutely stunning. Lots of “oohs” and “ahhs” were heard from our students as their two-minute exposures showed up on their back-screens.
All in all it was a happy trip back to baker Beach with a fun bunch of people...Jean and I saw some great stuff on our students cameras, and we look forward to seeing the finished processing on those images!
UNTIL NEXT TIME!
On behalf of Matt, Jean and the Aperture Academy team, we thank you for a another great workshop!
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.