San Francisco Night Owls Photography Workshop | Jan. 18th, 2013

San Francisco Night Owls Photography Workshop - Jan. 18th, 2013

Night Owls Night Photography Workshop Students with Aperture Academy

Write up by Instructor Brian Rueb

Night photography is so much fun, and has so many "ah-ha" moments. It’s one of my favorite classes to teach.

The sunset was vibrant and full of great clouds. The class had a lot of fun grabbing some quick shots, or phone snaps while we waited for our time to begin.

Orientation was great everyone brought a lot of different experiences to the table, but everyone was excited to learn more about night photography, and had limited experience with that subject. Looks like a great group!

The first stop was the Palace of Fine Arts. Scott and I worked with the class here on composition, and some beginning settings to working with long exposures at night. We covered aperture, shutter speed, and even talked a bit with some of the students on how to use multiple exposures to help grasp the extremely contrasting dynamic range.

The view from the front is great. The reflection was perfect tonight as was the outside temperature. What a perfect night. We saw a lot of great exposures on the back of the cameras.

Once we finished in the front, we worked our way to underneath the dome of the structure. I was really impressed with some of the abstract detailed shots I saw on some of the cameras. A few of the students really made good use of the negative space caused by the dark back lit shapes on some of the pillars. Really cool stuff!

The second spot of the night was the famous twists and turns of Lombard Street. Scott and I split the class into two smaller groups. Scott shot the view looking down, and I shot the view looking up. It’s always a lot of fun to shoot here.

From the top vantage point the students are always excited when a large stream of cars shows up, while from the bottom we prefer only ONE car to show up. Headlights are much brighter than taillights and the more that show up, the more washed out our foregrounds become.

I teach a few tricks to help combat this, but it’s always a funny contrast in shooting. One group very excited, the other frustrated by an endless line of cars slowly maneuvering the twists. Then they rotate, and each becomes aware of what the others were moaning (or cheering) about.

A lot of our exposures are over a minute here, and its fun for the class to see that exposures can be that long, and actually look great. It’s a perfect lesson in how long exposures work.

The Coit Tower was also lit up bright red in honor of the 49ers. While I’m not a Niner fan (at all) it’s a cool thing, and from a selfish photographer’s standpoint, I do like it when the SF sports teams do well, as it makes for better shooting for my classes.

Break was the next stop of the night, and we had the chance to see SF fire and medical services tend to a person who was struck by a car right in front of our stop. We didn’t see the impact, but arrived very shortly after. I was really impressed with how fast they worked, and cleared the scene.

The last stop of the night was the Embarcadero, and the iconic view of the Bay Bridge. We had to navigate a pesky pipe to get to our spot, but it provided a lot of laughs as we worked as a team to get us all over the pipe, and set up to shoot.

Once the shooting began, it was good times. Everyone got some great shots of this iconic vista. Scott and I worked to help correct some white balance issues, and explained why we adjust it, and how the Kelvin scale works in the camera.

It was a great group and every one learned some new tricks, and got some tremendous shots along the way. Scott and I enjoyed this group a great deal, and the wonderful “winter” weather in the city.

On behalf of myself (Brian), Scott, 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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