San Francisco has so much to offer the photographer. You can capture amazing cityscapes, people and street photographs, and there is easy access to incredible nature. It’s all here.
We organize our Marin Headlands class to try and bring people to as many different situations as we can in an afternoon... all in and around the Marin Headlands and Golden Gate National Park. On this day, our group of eight eager photographers met up with Joe and me in Sausalito for orientation on what to expect during our day out.
Our first stop was inside the historic civil war era Fort Point. Fort Point is fascinating to me. Not only do I find it hard to believe it was built in the Civil War, but photographically I think I see something new every time I’m inside. Depending on the weather and time of year, the light inside the fort really changes and creates new and interesting places to shoot within the old brick walls.
With our group broken into smaller factions, we explored the fort, showing them rows of brick archways, hallways of endless doors, and rooms filled with old powder kegs. All of these places have things to teach. Aperture, shutter speed, white balance moving inside and outside, composition, and more, are all covered in-depth during the first portion of the class.
It’s a great place to learn and explore. Once the learning part was in the books, it was time for the class to go explore. There’s still more learning, but this time they get to go on their own and work to try and find their own compositions.
In addition to the great views inside the fort, there are also amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge from the roof. Here, the students are able to work with their polarizing filters to help get some added depth to the sky, and cut a little of the glare off the water. One of the added treats for the day was watching a pod of humpback whales in the waters around the bridge. What a COOL thing to see!
After we recharged our batteries at a restaurant in Sausalito, we headed to Rodeo Beach for sunset. A thick fog had settled on the headlands, as is customary for this time of year. We were hopeful that it would break up once we got to the beach. We could see a sliver of hope along the horizon that gave us an opportunity for a break that would create a dramatic sunset.
The waves were nice and big, which means the class was able to get some great movement shots of waves winding in and about all the rocks on the shoreline. Our main subject was a set of three fantastic sea stacks just off shore. The rocks in the foreground are there to help give our compositions a sense of interest and depth. Once everyone was set up, Joe and I helped them to get their compositions and settings dialed in, and then went over how to use a graduated neutral density filter... something they will need in order to get properly balanced exposures. The sky was very bright, so having these filters was a great way to help get a better exposure on the foreground.
Sunset was very nice, the color faded a bit at the end but there was plenty of golden light and cloud breaks to give everyone some REALLY nice images on their cameras. Folks experimented with exposures of various lengths to try and get different effects in the waves. It was really a lot of fun to see this quality of light in the summer.
With the way the clouds were breaking, we'd hoped that the Golden Gate Bridge would be out from under the blanket of fog that shrouded it during our arrival to the headlands. As we rounded the last turn, sure enough, the bridge was out, and we were able to set the group up for some great night shots of the bridge before we called it a day.
Ending the class with such an iconic vista was a bright point in what had been a great day of exploration and photographic learning.
Until next time,
Brian, 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.