There's so much to learn with photography that it can seem overwhelming, for certain. However, Phil and I are happy to help, so we eagerly set out to meet our little band of eight eager photographers in Sausalito on a beautiful day, for some fun and photography. After a brief orientation, we loaded up into the van and headed off to Fort Point, our first stop for the day.
Once inside, we broke up the crew into smaller factions and set off for our first lessons of the day. I like to take the first spots as a chance to really explain the camera basics: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Those three things are the pillars of exposure inside a camera, and understanding their relationship is vital for learning how to get one's camera off of auto and into full-time manual.
My group started out in the old barrel room, where there are rows and rows of old powder kegs. These replicas are great to learn about depth of field (aperture) and how to play around with the repeating shapes for compositional aesthetics. It also gave us the opportunity to discuss white balance and how it works with artificial lights.
Our second and third stops in the fort allowed us to deal with symmetry because of the rows of brick archways outside, and what appears to be an endless set of doorways inside the officer's quarters. The deal with this symmetry is to make it perfect in the composition, or skew it enough where people know you are doing something creative with the scene. The aperture settings are similar in both locations, but we were able to discuss white balance further here as we were inside and outside, which played greatly with the color temperatures. Both locations are awesome and really gave the class some knockout images to start the day with.
We don't want to keep the group tied to us the whole time we're in the fort, so after about an hour and a half of solid instruction we turned them loose to explore on their own. The spiral staircases, dark corridors, old bricks, and of course the view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the roof, are just a little bit of what makes this place so special. Some folks went outside of the fort to try and photograph surfers and were treated to seeing whales and dolphins swimming in the bay! What a cool thing to see!
Our next stop was Sausalito, for an early dinner break before we set off for our next stop... Rodeo Beach. We walked out to the beach, braving a slightly higher than normal tide, to set up for some long exposure wave photography. We encouraged the class to primarily stay far enough away to avoid being hit with a wave, but also gave them the proper camera information to get those fluid captures. For such circumstances, we wanted higher apertures to allow us the ability to get longer shutter speeds, which will smooth out the water and create a dreamy sense of movement. This is also a great spot to work on using graduated ND (neutral density) filters and polarizers, to help give the best overall feel to the image.
The higher tide gave us GREAT movement in the waves, and we really got some nice images of the water moving around all the rocks on the beach. The class was getting some awesome images, and we practically had to drag them away so we could brave the gauntlet of surf and cliff to get back to the van before dark. It was close a couple times, but the whole group made it past the waves to the dry sand on the other side without a wet mishap.
What trip to San Francisco would be complete without a shot of the Golden Gate Bridge? On our way back, we made a last stop so the class could get a little taste of night photography with the Golden Gate as the star. An inversion layer was coming into the city, which meant the usually frigid wind and cold was replaced with rather nice temperatures like we had the entire day! Great opportunity, not to be missed!
The weather was spectacular, and there was so much fun to be had in all of the places we visited throughout the day... the only thing left was for the class to head home and sift through all of the images they took and enjoy all their photographic treasures!
Until next time,
Brian, Phil, 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.