The City of San Francisco is graced with not only the most iconic and photographed landmarks of the U.S., San Francisco has the coldest daily mean, maximum, and minimum temperatures for June, July and August. During the summer, rising hot air in California's interior valleys creates a low-pressure area that draws winds from the North Pacific High through the Golden Gate, which creates the city's characteristic cool winds and fog.
This summer fog creates a multitude of interesting photographic opportunities.
A group of 11 students, lead by Aperture Academy (APCAD) instructors Scott Donschikowski and Ellie Stone at the famed Baker beach, with hopes of learning how to capture the SF landscape, during these tricky summer conditions.
Baker beach, with its mile long lush sand, sits on the western shoreline of the Presidio. The view from this beach is truly stunning, with the ruggedly beautiful Marin headlands, highlighting the star of the show…. The Golden Gate Bridge.
After some quick introductions in front of the APCAD’s awesome set of wheels, affectionately known as the ApCab, Ellie and Scott lead the excited students on to the beach to capture the first of many spectacular images.
After all the students had their fill of this dramatic scene, and felt more comfortable using the manual mode on their cameras, everyone piled into the ApCab and headed over to the southern side of the Golden Gate. At the base of the bridge sits the now protected site of Fort Point. The fort was completed just before the American civil war, to defend San Francisco against hostile warships. Now it serves as a photographers playground, as was as United States historical site. The long corridors and beautifully arched masonry provide the perfect elements for our students to work on composition techniques. The instructors focused on showing the students some of the best spots to capture this amazing military architecture. While also teaching them the best way to manage the often-changing lighting situations encountered around the various shooting locations.
After a whirlwind of photos and fun at the fort, Scott and Ellie escorted the students to a quaint little Italian restaurant in Sausalito. All filled their bellies with good food, over friendly conversation of photography and photographic adventures.
Next on the agenda was the stunning coastline of the Marin Headlands, known as Rodeo beach. Some pronounce it rohDAYoh, while others say rohDEEoh, either way it’s another gorgeous and highly photographed spot in the SF area.
Ellie and Scott once again escorted the eager and now more confident photography students, out to the best vantage point for this sunset shoot. While waiting for the sun to dip a little lower in the sky, the instructors explained the use of polarizing and neutral density filters. Most students were new to the filters, so Scott and Ellie demonstrated different uses and techniques, lending the students their equipment. All were learning to capture the receding waves, with longer exposures. These longer exposures yield fantastic results, as the water takes on a smooth and dreamy look, contrasted by the magnanimous sea outcroppings, known as sea stacks.
Once the sun dipped below the horizon, most thought that would be the end of a highly productive day of photography. However, there was one more quick stop on the agenda. This last stop was yet another unique view of the majestic Golden Gate, from atop Hendrick point. It was the famed Blue hour but the wind was wiping. That didn’t stop this enthusiastic group from heading up to the top of the bluff, to capture just a few more exceptional images, to add to their newly acquired accumulation. Scott & Ellie got everyone set up quickly, and helped the students with the best exposure for the lower light situation. The classic summer fog proved to yield the best results at this location, as it appeared as an ethereal glow, from the city lights.
The ApCab transported everyone back to the Baker beach area, where all said their final farewells for the evening. Another outstanding group of students, which left with not only a plethora of fantastic images, but new friends, and great stories.
Until next time...Scott, Ellie 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.