When most people think of Cinco De Mayo…they think of a fun night out with food and margaritas. Not us at the Aperture Academy…we think, “Hey this would be a great day to head out and photograph San Francisco with a bunch of fun people!” That’s just what we did. Scott Donschikowski and I met a group of 11 awesome people who were up for the challenge of photographing the city, and getting away from the Coronas and corn chips vibe the rest of the city was trying to partake in.
We start our fiesta off with a little orientation in the Sausalito area before setting off across the Golden Gate Bridge and exploring the Battery Godfrey area. This location has some amazing views of the bridge and the rugged California coast. It’s also a great spot for us to work on the bigger picture with everyone and get him or her up to speed on using their cameras in manual mode as well as trying to help them start to visualize compositions. There’s often so much to cover for newer photographers that it can be overwhelming…aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white Balance, and then a host of other buttons and menus in the camera that really help to make the camera a daunting chore to understand. Scott and I try to strip it down to the basics…Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO…those three things are really all you need to know in order to come away with a nice image…all the other aspects are very minor. Cameras used to work just fine way before all the technology we have now…so it’s important to get people to take a breath and simplify the process.
Our second stop of the day was up on Hawk Hill…here we have a tremendous view of the bridge and the entire SF Skyline…it’s a ‘WOW’ place for sure. Scott walks some of the group down a little lower to show how a change in height can eliminate some of the empty spaces in a composition. We also try to encourage the group to use polarizers and work with them to eliminate some of the glare off the water, and to accentuate the colors in the sky.
Time flies and before we know it we all need a little food break…but it’s not Mexican for us…ITALIAN FOOD is on our menu. Our restaurant we typically go to was nice and open too as I think a lot of folks were across the street eating tacos and burritos at the Mexican place. With our bellies full we set off for Rodeo Beach for some sunset photography. Again, we had this location most entirely to ourselves…we set up the group to utilize the rocks of the beach as a foreground to help balance the nice sea stacks that sit just offshore. The goal is to wait until sunset, and then use our graduated filters and such to help get an amazing shot of the swirling surf between the rocks and a nice colorful sky. The horizon was clear, and we had some great color in the clouds. The filters are great for really balancing the exposure in this scene where we have a bright sky, and much darker foreground.
Once the last bit of color fades from the sky we make like a kid at a piñata party, and beat it. Our last stop for the night is of course, the Golden Gate Bridge. The luck is with us again and we easily find parking at Battery Spencer, which on a non holiday evening is usually packed with folks waiting to park…we zip in, and get right out to the cliff to photograph possibly one of the best vantage points of the bridge. It looks like you can reach out and grab it from this viewpoint. Our group sets up and really comes away with some nice images…a set of clouds in the area helps give the images an added depth and textural element that looks really nice in the images.
What a great way to end a fun day of photography!
Until Next Time,
Brian, Scott, 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.
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