A beautiful, sunny afternoon at Baker Beach in San Francisco was the meeting place for 13 enthusiastic photographers ready for a day of photographic learning and adventure in this world renowned city by the bay.
Aperture Academy instructors, Scott Donschikowski and Jean Day greeted the group with introductions all around, welcoming back returning students and getting to know new faces to get a feel for each individual's skill level and particular needs to make the best use of their time while increasing their photographic knowledge and abilities.
With the Golden Gate Bridge as a starting point, our crew traveled by van to the newly reconstructed Battery Godfrey for a clear view of this icon and some preliminary instruction on landscape photography. Learning the use of tripods for stability, polarizers for reducing glare, and finding foreground elements used to frame the bridge for a balanced composition were our first concentration.
Students learned of capturing scenes with a variety of focal lengths, changing apertures for depth of field, and getting many initial questions answered for the different features available on their various camera models. With shutter fingers warmed up, it was time for a short drive over to Fort Point.
First built in 1853 and situated at the base of the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Point is a great way to introduce students to architectural photography and our next stop for the afternoon. Instruction for using depth of field techniques to bring everything in a scene into focus, or for centering in on smaller details of both the Civil War architecture and equipment, students had he opportunity to learn a variety of shooting options.
Repeating patterns of the brick archways found on the upper levels and the multiple doorways down the long hall of the Officer's Quarters was useful for creating abstract images as students learned creative use of depth of field, changes in white balance for ambient light, and the need of a tripod and shutter release cords or remotes to prevent camera shake for longer exposures in dim lighting.
The old cannon wagons, powder keg barrels, and the graceful curves of brick-lined stairwells were all subject to instruction, and Scott and Jean made sure everyone had the opportunity to explore their creative abilities. Shots of the steel and patterned arches beneath the Golden Gate Bridge taught students to look for the abstract, and expansive views of ships on the bay from the top of the fort gave even more practice into landscape photography.
The old fort is a popular place for wedding photos, and some of our students took the opportunity to practice this skill as a bride and her bridesmaids gathered in the sunlit courtyard.
With the fort closing, the group made their way back to the van for a ride over to Sausalito and a welcomed dinner break at a popular Italian restaurant. Happy with the warmer temperatures and sunny disposition of the North Bay, students and staff lingered over dinner discussing accomplishments and skills learned from the afternoon shooting. Scott and Jean answered additional questions and offered advice to help students in retaining information learned and prepare them for the balance of the evening. After warming up and refueling with great food and conversation, it was time to head over to Rodeo Beach at Fort Cronkite in the Marin Headlands.
Just a short hike down the beach, Scott and Jean led the group to the iconic sea stacks of Rodeo. Here the students set up cameras on tripods and learned more on composition of landscape photography finding interesting foreground elements to help lead the eye off to the sea stacks and glowing warmth of the sunset.
The glistening sands and retreating waves gave emphasis to learning the use of polarizing filters to cut glare, and graduated neutral density filters to help bring into balance a brighter sky with a darker foreground. The use of longer shutter speeds for creating the effect of silky smooth and misty water allowed students more control of their cameras in creating a more ethereal and intriguing look.
With sun stars, silhouettes, and sunset images packed into their memory cards, it was time to head up to Hendrik Point for our final stop to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge at night. From this vantage point, students learned to create images with both wide angle lenses to capture the entire bridge and city in the background, to longer focal lengths for compressing views with portions of the bridge and streaming car lights.
Using remote shutter releases, exposures from 30 seconds to multiple minutes were taught as well as more tips on composition to give students the best possible images of this famous landmark. With an eventful workshop completed and memory cards full, it was time to return this fun and happy group of students to their vehicles, ending another day of photographic fun, adventure, and stepping up to the next level in their photography.
As always, Scott and Jean and the entire Aperture Academy team thank you for spending your day with us!
If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.