We've been teaching photography workshops in San Francisco for over a decade, and multiple times a year people keep asking us, "Why don't you add more classes in the bay area?" It took us awhile, but we finally put together a class we felt upped our San Francisco game, and would give folks an opportunity to head out and see more of this great photographic area.
We got right to it, after a mid-afternoon orientation we set off for our first spot of the workshops- Marshall Beach. Of all the fabulous vantage points of the Golden Gate Bridge, this is probably my favorite. This rocky coastline contains some of the best angles to photograph the bridge with plenty of interesting foreground subjects to use (naked guys excluded) Scott and I helped the group to get situated and use a variety of filters to help smooth out the water and get some motion in the waves to really help give the images a dynamic look... When the sun had faded from the sky, we waited until the lights came on the bridge and stayed to photograph some blue hour sweetness. What a tremendous way to begin the workshop! That night after the shoot we relaxed over a nice dinner at the Marin Brewing company, where we talked more photography and enjoyed some delicious food and beverage.
The next morning it was a bright and early hike to Kirby Cove. I would argue that Kirby cove might be the most beautiful campground in the world less a mile away from a major metropolitan area. This little nook of beauty is right across the Bay from the City of San Francisco, and is nestled between eucalyptus and cypress groves, and has one of the best beach views of the city. We set up to photograph a great sunrise here, capturing the movement of waves and the most iconic bridge in the state as our main subject.
The hike out of Kirby Cove is nowhere near as fun as the photography part, but we made it back to the top and to our hotel for breakfast and a short break before our afternoon street photography session. Street photography is one of the kinds of photography that many folks struggle with. It's not easy to be comfortable doing, and most people won't make time in their day to go try it out. There's not too many better places in SF to practice street photography than Chinatown. Before our departure, we went over some tips and tricks of the craft and then turned the group loose for a couple hours of exploration in this wonderful, colorful, maze of shops and alleys. When we got back to the van everyone had pushed out of their comfort zone a little, gotten a great meal, and had some fun along the way.
That night we looked over the sky to find out where the best light might be, and the majority of the sky was clear, except our favorite little beach, Rodeo Beach...where it looked like we might be able to get a nice sunset. While this spot isn't a new one for our workshops, it's not often that we have the chance to get such a nice sunset...so everyone agreed that the opportunity for a nice sunset was better than seeing something new with less than ideal conditions. Our group marched out to the beach and were treated to quite a nice display of light and color that lasted long after the sun had dipped behind the horizon. We made a stop at our favorite Italian restaurant for a well deserved dinner after.
Our last morning we made our first stop at the Bay Bridge from the Embarcadero side. We shoot this all the time on our night photography classes, but I think it's equally beautiful in the morning light as well, and we were pleasantly surprised with the beautiful clouds and color that greeted us on this morning. Our group of experienced photographers were dialed in quickly, but Scott and I still offered up some exposure tips, or compositional ideas. When we were done with the bridge, it was a short walk to pier 14 to get a great view of the SF skyline, and some really nice leading lines from the footbridge...
Our afternoon was spent processing and looking over images... Scott and I were very pleased with all the awesome images captured thus far.. Looking over the groups street photographs was fun too, some folks came away with some really tremendous images for their first go at street photography. Time sped by on this workshop, and before we knew it we were headed off south to Pacifica to photograph the pier. Scott and I really wanted to work on mid-day long exposures, so we helped pool our filters together so everyone was able to get some 1-2 minute long exposures of the pier, which smoothed out the water so it looked like a skating rink...when processed in black and white these images take on a whole new vibe...and one would almost not know it was the middle of the day.
One last sunset! Off to Pigeon Point Lighthouse. Our luck with weather really kept up, maybe it had something to do with the bird that crapped on my head. Our final sunset at the lighthouse was a great blend of colorful clouds, and wonderful architecture. This lighthouse is over 100 years old! Everyone was thrilled with the light, and it was a perfect ending to a great foray in to the Bridges of SF, and beyond!
Until Next Time,
Brian, Scott, 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.