I don’t know how San Francisco gets any more popular, but it always seems to draw in more and more visitors each year. More and more folks are also getting into photography, which makes the city a perfect spot to learn how to use their cameras and come away with some nice images. Our goal at the Aperture Academy is to help people learn more about their camera gear, and see some of the amazing places the San Francisco area has to offer.
Scott and I met a group of 12 photographers in Sausalito for orientation before setting out on a full day of fun in and around the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Our first stop is one of my absolute favorites…Fort Point. This old Civil War era fortress is a plethora of photographic opportunity.
We break the class up into two separate pods and then Scott and I show them three of our favorite spots, that all have different lighting situations, and compositional possibilities. Here we typically will strip down the process to Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO and how all of them work, and start to develop a routine to follow when shooting any scene. Of course we’ll throw in things like White Balance as well, given we’re shooting inside and outside.
We take the groups to visit a long hallway filled with similar doorways; this demonstrates not only some great depth of field possibilities, but also repetitive pattern, a staple of composition. We visit a similar area located outside that has brick archways, this area is great for talking settings, as well as the differences with white balance, and also gives us a chance to work with those graduated ND filters a little bit.
The last spot we take the class to is a room filled with multiple old replica powder kegs. This room offers up some tricky lighting to work with as well as an opportunity to talk depth of field in terms of creativity, and of course composition.
From here we head back over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito for a short lunch break, then it’s off to the Marin Headlands for a brief stop at Hawk Hill to shoot the Golden Gate Bridge in the late afternoon light. Here we’re able to continue our talk about composition, discuss the merits of a polarizer, and just enjoy the beautiful vista while we wait for the sun to dip a little lower so we can walk out to Rodeo Beach for sunset.
Rodeo Beach, to me, feels like another world…. thinking that it is so close to such a large urban area still baffles me. Rocky coastline, roaring surf, this is like something from the more remote sections of the Oregon Coastline. Here we help the group begin to work on longer exposures, and create aesthetic compositions utilizing the moving water. The sky is very bright compared to the foreground, so we really push folks to use the graduated neutral density filters here to try and balance out that light. Scott has some of the group running up and down the beach to capture the lines of the waves right as they recede, some folks have zoomed in to really focus on capturing the slow movement of waves over time, there are so many really great composition choices here, it’s easy to get lost in the shooting…and before you realize, the sun is gone and it’s time to move on. We both saw some really nice work on the cameras here…it was worth some of the wet feet people came back with.
We can’t end a class without at least one night shot, so we stop along the Headlands on our way back to the starting point so folks can get a shot of the Golden Gate as the lights have come on, and the sun has disappeared. This isn’t our night class, but it gives folks a little taste of what’s possible with night photography…and what better place to practice…
Everyone has some good images of the bridge…and it’s a perfect vista to end our night on. With a full day behind us and full memory cards ahead…it’s time to bring the group back to their cars so they can go home and digest all they learned and get to the processing of all those images.
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.
NOTE: You can see more workshop photos below the comments.