San Francisco always feels like it’s crazy busy…any day, any time of year. Add an 80-degree summer day to the mix and it can get CRAZY. Well, thankfully Jean Day and I are experts in crazy, and when our Marin Headlands class encountered one of these hot summer San Francisco Days we went into crisis mode and handled the crazy.
Our normal meeting spot was filled to the brim with tourists and locals alike who had taken all the parking. We made an executive decision to move our meet-up spot to nearby Sausalito and put our excellent gallery staff in motion to help contact everyone and with minimal difficulties we arrive as one in our new meet-up spot.
After a brief orientation we loaded up in the van and headed to Fort Point. I’m not sure how much real involvement San Francisco had in the Civil War, but they certainly built one heck of a nice looking fort to support the effort. Quick Trivia-California---on the North or South side of the war? I’m confused as well…thankfully we know photography, and once in side the fort Jean and I take our groups to several spots inside where we can cover a wide range of topics including Aperture and shutter speed settings, white balance, depth of field, composition, and even a little filter use.
We shoot an awesome hall of doorways, which is really cool as well as a row of old brick archways that also is really symmetrical and really impressive to photograph. One of these locations is inside, and the other outside…this leads to different approaches in terms of settings, and white balance choice. Perfect spots to go over a wide variety of teaching moments and give people a great location to practice.
Once we’ve spent the first hour and a half working with the students on settings and helping them understand their cameras in manual mode more we turn them loose to explore the fort on their own. The roof of the fort has a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge, and the wisps of summer fog moving in and about made for some added drama to these scenes.
At 5 O'Clock the park staff kicks everyone out, and that’s a perfect time for us to move back to Sausalito for some late lunch early dinner.
After a refreshing meal we all set back out to photograph…The summer fog has come to attack the city, but we drove up high on the headlands to see if any of the bridge was visible through the fog….when we arrived at the top of Hawk Hill we were disappointed to see the fog had overrun the area…and made our way down to Rodeo Beach for sunset.
The cool thing about the fog, is that it really evens out the light, and can make for some moody, dramatic black and white images…and though the sunset can’t really be seen…all of the techniques and photography aspects are very similar whether it’s foggy, clear, or clouds and full of color.
Jean and I walk our group down the beach to a set of wonderful sea stacks, and set the group up on the waters edge where we help them dial in compositions and begin to work with the graduated filters and longer exposures to get different levels of movement in the water.
In these circumstances it’s all about water movement and depending on how you prefer to shoot it creatively there are a few options. The shorter 1/10 -1/4 of a second shots get you a little more energetic type movement. A 2-4 second shot will get you some nice streaks in the water, and a 30 second or longer exposure will really get you some glossy almost surreal type effect in the ocean…all of these shots have a different aesthetic appeal and all were fun to see on the cameras of the students.
Once the "sunset" time had passed the light began to fade and as is custom for our Marin class we shoot the Golden Gate Bridge. The normal vantage point was covered with fog, and the bridge wasn’t easy to see…so we opted for one of our other plans and drove across to the other side of the bridge at Fort Baker. Fort Baker side often has a better view of the bridge when the fog sets in because most of the fog dissipates as it crosses the bridge…leaving us with the best of both worlds. We can shoot the full Golden Gate and get some of the mood and drama the fog brings to the scene.
Everybody scattered out along the coast and Jean and I helped them to get dialed in with their settings and offered up a couple different compositional elements to choose form. The movement of the fog, and the light was really spectacular….I loved the way the shots were coming out!
Though we got off to a slower start, we finished strong, and went until we covered all of the spots we needed to cover…even if they were from different angles. Such is the way things have to be done when there is a sunny summer day in San Francisco!
Thanks for your patience, and a fun day!
Until Next Time,
Brian, Jean, 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.