San Francisco. For some, it's home, for most, it's a major tourist attraction with hundreds of sites to see throughout the city and beyond. And that is especially true when the weather is favorable.
In the summer months, the City by the Bay, also known as Fog City, can be one of the most dreary places in California--cloudy, wet, zero visibility, and extremely windy. However, it definitely has its beautiful weather, too, and on this absolutely stunning September weekend, Aperture Academy instructors, Scott Donschikowski and Jean Day, led an eager group of photographers who were ready, willing and able to take in the sights of this fabulous city.
In keeping with tradition, Scott started the usual round of introductions, to help get everyone better acquainted and to help our instructors have a better understanding of the skill level of each individual student. After everyone was finished, we all hopped into the van, the ApCab, and headed down the street to Battery Godfrey.
The area surrounding Battery Godfrey has been under construction for years, and for much of that time the coastal trails and overlooks were inaccessible to groups. However, earlier in 2012, the city finally finished and now the area is beautiful. So, our group stayed in this location, hopping around the various vantage points, while Jean and Scott traveled around and helped everyone setup and find the optimum settings for their shots.
With everyone's camera fingers warmed up, we hopped back in the ApCab and made our way to the second stop of the day, Fort Point. The Fort is located just directly underneath the southernmost portion of the Golden Gate bridge, and provides a stunning look up to the bridge above. Scott and Jean broke the group in two, each taking their people to one of three architectural hot spots, before we let them explore on their own.
The brick arches and the officer's quarters both provide unique perspective and vanishing point lessons, while the powder room exudes an aura of centuries past. All three places use different camera settings and provide unique challenges to help in the learning process and reinforce those all important technical skills.
When 5pm rolled around, we had everyone hop back into the ApCab so we could go and get something to eat in Sausalito. The group took a much deserved break and filled their tanks in preparation for round two: the Marin Headlands.
Travelling through the Hawk Hill tunnel put us in the Marin Headlands, and a short drive east took the group to Rodeo Beach, the sight of our sunset shot. The three towers of rock sitting peacefully just offshore were the subject of our sunset shoot.
Jean and Scott explained how to tackle the challenging lighting and about the use of graduated filters to help balance exposure. With plenty of time before the magic hour, the group eagerly took to action and everyone found multiple vantage points they were happy with. As the light slowly faded and shutter speeds became slower and slower, Jean and Scott shifted the group's focus to waves and the capturing of the wave action to help as a leading line in the camera frame. With most of the color on the horizon gone, the group packed up once more for the last shot of the night.
Hendrick Point is an overlook just northeast of Golden Gate bridge. It commands stunning views of the city, nearly the entire bay, and of course, the bridge itself.
By this time, it was dark, so there were new shifts to be made in camera settings, and the group learned about long exposure photography. Framing the bridge from end to end in their compositions, the shutter speeds needed to exceed one minute, with some even approaching two minutes!
With no fog to impede our view, our eager group was able to thoroughly enjoy the night sky and view of the lighted city, and the trails of cars on the deck of the bridge; it was all enthusiastically welcomed and absorbed by our team, as well as beautifully captured by our students. A great way to end a spectacular day. Thanks for making it enjoyable, guys!
Until next time,
Scott, Jean and the rest of the Aperture Academy team
If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.