We decided to kick off the first Marin Headlands workshop of the year with the Aperture Academy on an amazingly beautiful day. It was like springtime in January. Luckily fourteen students showed up on Baker Beach to meet instructors Brian Rueb and Scott Davis for the day to enjoy the weather and learn more about landscape photography.
We spent the first part of the class with a brief orientation to acquaint everyone with one another and find out more what people were really wanted to learn most during that day. We spend our first portion of the day on Baker Beach helping people with their immediate concerns and all while trying to help students come away with a nice image or two of the Golden Gate Bridge. Students come to us with a variety of experience levels and goals. We have students who are professionals in one area of photography looking to help improve their skills in other area, as well as beginners who are just trying to get a little help understanding the basics of shutter speed and aperture.
The next stop of the day is the old civil war era fort underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Point. The fort is the highlight for many during the day. It's one of those locations that many people who have lived in the city for years have never been to, many haven't even heard of it before. It's a tremendous location to work on challenging exposures, indoor lighting, as well as composition. It also gives us the perfect place to spend 3 hours in the middle of the day during the harshest light of the day for photography.
Inside the fort we break the group up and Scott and Brian are able to help the students maneuver into some of the areas smaller locations and give more individual instruction. We also divide this portion of the day into two halves. The first half of the location our instructors show the class a few of their favorite locations in the fort that have some different challenging aspects for photography. They give instruction and help the class to capture some images in the areas. The second half of the location is spent with the students being let loose to photograph on their own. There are so many nooks and crannies in the fort that one really needs to be alone in order to properly discover them. Scott and Brian walk around the area to check on them and find out if they can be of assistance in helping them better understand the various aspects needed to properly capture the scene they're visualizing.
When the time in the fort is finished and the difficult task of rounding up a group of eager photographers has been completed it's time to head off for our lunch/dinner break. We spend the time in a café in Sausalito that allows us to get a chance to regain some energy as well as continue to get to know one another. Down time doesn't have to be without an opportunity to ask questions and continue the education and fun that has been a big part of the earlier portion of the day.
We leave Sausalito and head out to Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands area to capture sunset. After completing a small hike out across the beach our group arrives at a nice little cove littered with rocks, and several large sea stacks looming just off the shore. The group spreads out and begins the work of setting up compositions that will best show off this amazing location. Brian and Scott walk around to help the students get the best exposures and setting s for the scene as well as make sure those with filters understand how their use will be most beneficial to the scene in front of them. For many students the use of filters is a mystery that they've just started to unravel on their day with the Aperture Academy. The sunset on this night was VERY nice….golden tones that gave way to some intense pinks and wispy clouds on the horizon. The group was very excited with some of the images they were able to create…and wouldn't you know it in all the excitement we stayed out past the point we should've and it was nearly dark when we got back to the van to head to the last stop.
Nightfall on the Golden Gate when viewed from the top of the Marin Headlands is amazing. There aren't many other ways to say it. The bridge glows and looks so large you could almost reach out and touch it. We discourage the touching part due to liability and a long fall to the bottom…but we do encourage photographing it. Even though a large bank of fog was quickly overtaking the scene we were still able to stop and grab a few moody images of the bridge before calling it a night. For some students this was their first look at night photography…and what better location to start!
The class was outstanding today. Everyone brought with them great questions and lots of goals we were able to deal with and give each student a little more knowledge than they came with. The day was beautiful …and fun. Everyone had a great attitude and even though the class went over by an hour….everyone was game and we photographed all the spots we set out see that day…and the class left with smiles, and memory cards full of some spectacular images.
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.