Jean and I met our group on a beautiful spring day. The sun was out, the morning fog had burned off, and it was looking like a BEAUTIFUL day. We spend a brief amount of time in orientation getting to know everyone and more about their gear, and experience levels. Lots of varied experience on this class! I love having such varying experience levels it really helps us to deal with a lot of different aspects of photography, which is beneficial to us as instructors in keeping our skillset sharp, and often what one student needs to know, others want to know as well…so having a lot of questions is great!
We start out on Baker Beach. It’s a good area for working on composition and helping the students who are newer to manual mode get familiar with aperture, shutter speed, and reading a histogram to help examine exposure. It’s also a place to see naked sunbathers…and due to the nice weather, there were a couple of them too!
The next stop is the groovy Fort Point. This Civil War era fort is a treasure trove of different great photo locations. Jean and I break the group up into smaller pods and then show them three of our favorite spots in the fort that deal not only with different types of lighting, but also some great compositional elements. Indoor lighting, mixed indoor and outdoor lighting, and good old fashioned outdoor lighting we have it all in the fort!
We spend the first hour showing the class the ropes of the fort, and the last hour is there’s to explore and find some of their own unique views. Jean and I walk around looking for the class to see what kind of shots they’ve come up with and what questions that have come up as they explored.
Break is the next stop…time to get a little fuel for the remainder of the day! It’s a good place for us to catch up on different topics of photo conversation as well. Many people have great stories and it’s a fun time to sit back and listen to where people have travelled and swap stories of photo-related road trips.
Sunset is spent on Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands. Our normal mode of attack is to head out to the iconic sea stacks and shoot the waves and rocks. The tide was not in our favor on this night so we moved to the bluffs to shoot the beautiful coastline, and use some of the lovely ice plant carpet as our foreground. We work with graduated neutral density filters here, and try for longer exposures to help give the waves a bit of a blur and movement.
The only problem was the wind was not playing nice. This location can be a tad breezy under normal locations, that’s typical…but a cold and stiff wind was really driving the class in the face, and making people very cold. Looking back over my shoulder I noticed the clouds forming in the direction of the Golden Gate Bridge…so we quickly gathered the class and moved to somewhere we hoped would be a bit less windy, and still offer amazing opportunities for photography.
The lot at the bridge was packed, so I let everyone out to make their way to the bluffs to get set up. Jean went with them to make sure they had their settings correct. While I sat and waited for a parking spot I watched the sky explode with great pinks and orange tones…and smiled knowing the class was already set up getting to work on some nice imagery. I finally got a spot to park, and made my way up the hill to help the class with the blue hour and night shots of the bridge that we like to use to conclude our day. There were some GREAT shots of this iconic bridge on those cameras. This spot gave us a good way to go from filter use right into night situations like longer exposure, white balance, cable releases/remote importance, and what to do if you DON’T have a remote or release cable. All good lessons and proof that there is so much to learn with photography that even at the end of the class we’re still throwing out information!
All in all it was a great day with a fun bunch of people…Jean and I saw some great stuff on the cameras, and look forward to seeing the finished processing on those images!
Until next time,
Brian, Jean 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 here.