I ask you "What could be better than hanging out in the Marin Headlands, on a Saturday, with the Aperture team?" The cool sea air saturating your senses as you focus your lens upon the magnificent Golden Gate bridge. Or peering out over the rippling waves to see kite surfers and sailboats freckling the deep green expanse. We couldn’t think of anything better either, so Brian Rueb and I met up with an excited group of photographers stoked to learn some new techniques and tricks of the landscape trade.
Brian and I met everyone on the North side of the bay in Sausalito for an introduction before we set off on our grand adventure. After learning a little about everyone we all got into the van and headed to our first stop, Fort Point.
Fort point, once a military defense structure, is a winding maze of caverns, spooky narrow stairwells, and vibrant green and orange lichen-covered walls. The Fort itself is situated directly below the South side of San Francisco Bay making it a sought after destinations for photographers and sightseers from around the world. The top level of the fort sits directly under the bridge giving it a completely unique viewpoint of the towering structure.
Once inside the fort we split the group into two. I took my group to the powder room to start off with a lesson in white balance, depth of field and using tripods. The Powder Room is an old gunpowder storage room with rows upon rows of well-preserved wooden barrels. This is a great area to get those dreamy soft background shots and macro compositions as well as crisp, sharp detail images.
The group and I spent just over an hour going over some key elements of shooting while I walked around giving some examples to spark some ideas. After finishing up with the Powder room Brian and I let our groups loose to explore the fort as they wished while we ran around checking in on individuals and sharing our knowledge and advice. We could literally spend an entire day here shooting, but we had other plans so we rounded everybody up and headed back across the bridge.
Our next spot is a little rocky beach near Fort Baker. This area packs in an equally great vista of the Golden Gate from a completely different perspective. Here Brian and I went over how to get the maximum detail in your image and how to create more dynamic compositions within the scene. The students really seemed to enjoy this spot and they didn’t really want to leave…and who could blame them? Now it was time for a short interlude to have a bite and rejuvenate our photographic muse at a local Sausalito Italian café.
Now that our bellies were full and the sun was sinking lower in the sky we headed into the Marine Headlands to our sunset spot at Rodeo Beach. This area is rich with opportunity. With an unhindered view of the western skies, the sunsets can be spectacular here. We walked out a little ways to a nice location with sea stacks and some interesting rocks to use as a foreground. Brian and I went around with the some filters and let the group try some different techniques for capturing the high contrast scene. The sun set behind a cloud band spilling orange light onto the water and enveloping the sky. We practiced capturing long exposures as the waves rolled in and out. After sunset we packed up our gear and headed back up the beach before it got dark.
Our last location sits high atop the Headlands massive rise above the Pacific. There, looking out over the bay, one sees why they named this area Hawk Hill. This perch makes a perfect area to capture the bridge as the warm lights shine through the darkening sky illuminating the Golden Gate. Waves of fog drifted in and out through the corridor making the scene even more interesting. Brian and I took the students through a few settings and wet their night shooting whistles. After everyone got a few images we headed back down the hill to conclude one awesome day of capturing light.
Until next time,
Brian, Phil and the rest of the Aperture Academy!
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.