San Francisco Night Owls Photography Workshop | April 19th, 2013

San Francisco Night Owls Photography Workshop - April 19th, 2013

Night Owls Night Photography Workshop Students with Aperture Academy

The weather forecast for the San Francisco area was OUTSTANDING for this weekend and all week long Alicia and I were talking about how excited we were for the classes this weekend. Other than a little breeze it was clear and beautiful for our night class on Friday. We met a great group of students at Baker Beach for a fun, and educational night of photography in the city. Every one of them seemed super excited to go learn more about night photography and get some great images on their cameras.

We started out overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. It's hard to do ANY San Francisco photography workshop and not include at least one shot of the bridge. We weren't shooting it at night, but at sunset with the golden glow of the last bit of light hitting the bridge. This first stop was a good warm up, it lets Alicia and me walk the crowd, help with composition, settings, a little bit of information on to read a histogram and some other tidbits that will help us as we get into the meat of night shooting.

The first real night photography starts at the Palace of Fine Arts. I love this matter how many times I see it. It looks like a big Jack-o'-Lantern sitting out across the pond from us. We arrive for the blue hour this time of year, and the complimentary colors of orange and blue make for stunning images. Alicia and I of course, are there to guide the students with the proper settings on the camera, and to explain the "why' behind it as we go along. The was not much wind tonight, so the reflections were REALLY nice in the water (with the exception of a few errant ducks who were bent on ruining things for a bit)

While we shot the pool in front of the building we noticed some fire jugglers under the dome preparing for a show of some kind. Who doesn't like FIRE!? Now, to be fair, in all the years I've been doing this class I have seen them before at least a half dozen times...BUT usually they don't stay long, they come, juggle flames, then leave. This time we were able to actually photograph them from under the dome. Alicia and I frantically tried to get everyone dialed in with the proper settings as they twirled their fire and danced to their tunes. It was VERY cool to see them work and see the cool shots the class got. What made it BETTER still was that the fire jugglers were interested in our shots they gave us an encore performance! This allowed the class to get more creative images of the dancers!

When it was all done we took a great group shot there with the fire dancers twirling fire IN THE GROUP SHOT!! That is a first!

The next stop was Lombard Street. I love this spot provides not only stunning images of lights streaking their way down the twists and turns of this crooked street, but also a lot of unintentional comedy comes from this spot.

I know it so well I can almost give a play by play of the little things that will happen during a shoot.

There's the inevitable car that needs to turn down the side road we shoot from, it always happens 30 seconds into a shot. SO ANGRY!

There's the man who comes home at 9:45pm, and walks his dog, Sam. I've seen that dog SO many times, she knows me, and I can get her all excited to see us. The owner is just trying to take her potty, so he gets a little testy when his dog freaks out and drags him off to greet us. But it's fun...and the dog is super cute.

There's the lady who comes out about 9:57pm and tells us "It's a great night, enjoy, it's a beautiful shot."

I see her EVERY time and she says THE SAME thing every time.

There's the cars that stop and ask "What are you taking pictures of?" Sometimes it's Brad Pitt...sometimes its George Clooney. They always ask, "Really?"

Photographically we help the class with not only the composition, but using some different tips and tricks to get the best exposures given some tricky lighting. Headlights and taillights are both different to photograph, so it's fun for the students to learn a little of both...which is why we break the group up into smaller pods.

The final stop of the night is the beautiful Bay Bridge. This iconic bridge has recently been redone with new LED lights that add extra pop to all the images. This is also a good spot to work on white balance settings with the class and explaining how those work. Alicia and I were really pleased with the images we saw on the student cameras, and it's always a lot of fun to see them start to grasp the settings we've been teaching throughout the night and start to make the right decisions on their own.

Our class started off with a fire show, and always ends with a great lightshow as well on the Bay Bridge, it was a truly fun and memorable night with a fun group of students!


On behalf of Brian, Alicia and the Aperture Academy team, we thank you for a another great workshop!

P.S. If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here. (More photos below the comments.)

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