San Francisco Night Owls Workshop
Note: we almost always do our Marin Headlands and Night Owls workshops back to back, so you can book both to make this a 2-day workshop.
Authorized permittee of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area
San Francisco Night Owls Night Photography Workshop
Just because the sun has gone, it doesn't mean your day of photography has to end!
Night Photography is fast becoming one of the most popular forms of digital photography. Join the award winning Aperture Academy team as we take you on a journey of San Francisco after dark...we'll shoot at fantastic locations such as Treasure Island, the Palace of Fine Arts, The Embarcadero and Lombard Street!
One of the nicest aspects of night photography is that our images are not dependent on a "good sunset" or sky "conditions" in order to be spectacular. Every location offers a chance to be great, every time we visit.
We will meet in Sausalito, have a quick orientation, and begin our journey just after the sun has set. We'll start by photographing the iconic Golden Gate Bridge from several amazing vantage points, and we'll move on through the night, helping you properly compose and expose images you can be proud of!
With Marin in our rearview mirror, we'll head into the city to photograph a couple views of the Bay Bridge, lights along the piers, and whatever else the city throws our way before going deeper into the city to work on longer exposures in and around Lombard Street.
This workshop is designed to teach you what you need to know in order to head out and photograph the world at night. We work on using long exposures to properly expose a scene and bring the glow of the city to life in your images.
Whether you're a newbie to the world of night photography, or have done it for years and are simply looking to get a few tips on composition (and hang out with a great group of people), this workshop will give you what you need.
The possibilities are endless! Depending on conditions and time of year, the route and locations we photograph may change. But, no matter where we end up, you'll be sure to receive the same quality, personalized instruction we offer at all of our workshops!
See you there, Night Owls!
Although lodging is not included in this workshop, we're happy to recommend a few:
Holiday Inn Express Mill Valley
160 Shoreline Hwy, Mill Valley CA 94941
Best Western Corte Madera Inn
56 Madera Blvd, Corte Madera, CA 94925
Equipment To Bring (No filters are needed for this workshop)
DSLR or Mirrorless Camera
Required: You'll want, and need, the full power and creative control of a Digital SLR or Mirrorless Camera to get the most out of your learning experience on this workshop. We teach all brands and models of Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax and more!
Required: For best results, we recommend a wide angle. 16-35mm, or a 24-70 works too!
Required: Stability is everything in Photography! Using a sturdy tripod will help improve your compositions and get sharper images. A tripod also helps you have both hands free to focus (pun intended!) on learning and getting "the shot"!
Required: A shutter release allows you to take a photo without
touching the camera. This helps ensure a sharp photo and is very important
for long exposures in dark areas, or at night. They are affordable and a great tool
to have in your camera bag!
Need Gear? Visit BorrowLenses for a special package designed specifically for Aperture Academy students for this workshop.
Meet Our Workshop Pro Instructors...
Meet our master instructors and learn what qualifies them to give you a great experience during your workshops! While you're joining us, you will receive comprehensive digital photography instruction and tutoring by our team of award-winning photographers.
→ Stephen W. Oachs
Stephen W. Oachs is an award-winning photographer, successful entrepreneur and technology veteran, who began his journey in photography the moment he picked up his first camera.
Completely self-taught, Stephen's unique and distinctive style has earned him recognition as one of today's finest nature photographers. He was recognized in 2007 as wildlife photographer of the year by the National Wildlife Federation and was awarded best nature photographer in 2008 by National Geographic.
Stephen has received many other awards and achievements. His work has graced the pages of such notable publications such as National Geographic, Popular Photography, Outdoor Photographer, National Wildlife Magazine and many others.
In 2009 Stephen founded The Aperture Academy, a unique combination of fine art photography gallery in conjunction with classroom and workshop instruction. Students of the Aperture Academy receive hands-on instruction designed for their individual skill levels, which includes everything from learning to shoot in the field to digital post-processing techniques.
Whether trekking through the wilds of Alaska, enduring the raw challenges of nature or experiencing the thrill of life on the edge, Stephen captures rare and breathtaking moments of light and time. His exceptional eye is filtered only by his passion for life, deep affinity with nature and love of adventure.
→ Brian Rueb
Brian Rueb has been photographing for the better part of 21 years. Combining a degree in photography and a degree in art, he has worked the two together to create powerful and dynamic landscape images. His love and passion for photography is evident in each and every image he shoots. In addition to his passion for art,Brian has a passion for education and has spent almost 21 years teaching art and photography in the public high school system. During that time he has developed an art and photography program that has seen numerous students win awards and go on to major in the profession. His goal is not only to be great himself, but to instill that knowledge and passion into his students.
In addition to being an internationally recognized photographer, Brian also writes for several websites sharing his interesting often comical adventures into the wilderness in search of new images, and has released a book depicting his two month adventure around the country of Iceland titled Me, Myself, and Iceland. Brian is a volunteer in Lassen Volcanic National Park and working on a five year project compiling images for a book on the park and its changes throughout the seasons.
Rueb's work has appeared in numerous magazines including Shutterbug and Photographers Forum. His work has won numerous awards and merit at the Local, State, National, and International levels.
Brian currently resides in Northern California with his wife, two boys, and two dogs.
Note: In the event a scheduled instructor for a particular workshop is unavailable, a replacement instructor will be scheduled.
While we make every effort, there is no guarantee that the assigned instructors for a scheduled workshop will be present.
What's Included/Not Included
What's Included in your workshop:
- Hands-on Instruction by 2 or more professional photographers
- Water (snacks for extended workshops)
What's not included
- Instructor Gratuities
- Meals during workshop breaks
Safety, Confidence, Being Prepared
Aperture Academy is a professional organization dedicated to safe, quality, positive experiences for our students, and responsible stewardship for the breathtaking locations and beautiful wildlife we enjoy at every workshop.
We work with the United States Department of Interior, the National Park Service, and the US Forestry Service to obtain all the proper permits to operate safely, conscientiously, and legally. We carry much more than the required minimum of insurance, and our skilled instructors are certified as Wilderness First Responders, in CPR, as well as in the Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics program. And, have we mentioned that each is an accomplished, successful professional photographer?
Every "ApCad" member is dedicated to ensuring our students receive the best care and guidance possible, so each of them has the opportunity to get the most remarkable, enjoyable, and enriching photography experience available anywhere in the world.
What to Bring
- Your digital SLR camera. If you have two bodies, bring both. This is a digital photography class, but if you have a favorite point-and-shoot or old film camera you like, bring it along, and if time permits, you can use it as well.
- Lenses. Try to cover a range from very wide (17-20mm), for landscape images, to zoom ranges (100-400mm) for wildlife. It's not uncommon to see wildlife on workshops (even those structured for landscape instruction), so it's best to be prepared, if possible. We also encourage you to bring other lenses, like a macro or fish-eye lens if you have them, because there are always endless creative possibilities to be found on our workshops.
- Tripod. This is a necessity for ALL our workshops. It can be windy in many of the areas we take you, so the sturdier your tripod, the better. If you haven't purchased one yet, you can e-mail our instructors; they would be happy to assist you in selecting a tripod that is perfect for you.
- Extra batteries. Bring at least 1 or 2 extra batteries. Cold temperatures and long exposures can drain batteries very quickly. There is no worse feeling than arriving at the last spot of the night for sunset and having a dead battery.
- Extra memory cards. Our instructors will show you the benefits of shooting in RAW format, which is a better method for photography, but takes up more space on a card. Having multiple memory cards will be to your benefit.
- Clothing & shoes. Bring layers of clothing you can add if/when temperature and wind conditions change, and they can! And wear good, comfortable walking shoes!
- Lunch, or money for lunch. And snacks. On two and three day workshops, we provide snacks and water. On one day workshops, we stop for lunch at a local food establishment where you can purchase food or eat what you have brought for yourself.
- Your sense of adventure! We want to teach you what it is YOU want to learn, and have you come away with some good images. And, since the nature of outdoor photography means we're subject to weather conditions, which we can't control, sometimes we must be flexible with the itinerary. So, come ready for anything. Because we are dedicated to do everything possible to ensure you're in the best places at the best times to get amazing images.
- Your Thinking Cap! Show up ready, because you're going to learn! Some tips: make sure to read the workshop details before you arrive, so you know what to expect, and what to bring; bring a list of questions you want to ask the instructors; check the weather forecast so you're aware of possible weather changes; and most importantly, show up with a brain that is ready for learning, and we promise we'll fill it up with as much information as you desire!
What should I expect?
→ All workshops are designed to help you learn how to take better photographs and offer a complete immersion into digital landscape and/or wildlife photography. You will learn important photography techniques such as how to properly expose a composition, when to use a filter for best effect, and how to understand and adjust camera settings for optimum results.
Class sizes are kept small (approx. 12 students) to afford each participant one-on-one instruction and to maximize individual attention. The Instructor ratio is usually 6 to 1.
All trips require walking, and usually a little hiking, on uneven terrain. You will want to wear the right clothing, footwear, and keep in mind you could get a bit of a workout!
Why only Digital?
→ Digital photography offers unique opportunities for in-field photography workshops. By reviewing captured images as soon as they happen, we can examine exposure, composition and histograms, and instantly learn what works--and what doesn't.
What should I bring? What is required?
→ All workshops require a Digital SLR camera and a tripod. (Note: A shutter release cord is required, and an intervalometer is highly recommended.)
Bring a laptop on workshops 2 days and longer if possible, as we will spend time, when not in the field, reviewing and critiquing images.
It is advised for you to dress in layers, as all workshops are held on location and often temperatures and conditions can change rapidly.
Food and beverages will not be provided, so please bring plenty of water and nourishment.
All students are expected to arrive on-time and to work together as a group to learn, not only from instructors, but also from each other.
What kind, and how much, equipment should I bring?
→ Bring it all if you can! You never know what you might see. On many workshops we focus on landscape photos, but you never know when wildlife might enter the scene and provide the perfect opportunity to photograph them in their natural habitat. It's always better to go into the field with too much gear, rather than miss an opportunity because of not enough equipment.
Is transportation provided?
→ Each student is responsible for their own transportation.
Can a non-photographer friend or spouse attend the workshop?
→ Non-photographer friends and or spouses are welcome to attend but will be liable for their transportation. For more information, please contact the Aperture Academy staff.
Does weather ever alter or cancel events?
→ Only if conditions pose a safety risk. Often, poor weather can make for dramatic photographic opportunities, so if rain is forecasted, pack a light jacket or rain poncho and bring something to keep your camera dry (a hotel shower cap is ideal). We reserve the right to re-schedule any workshop due to weather at any time prior to any scheduled workshop, though we will try to give as much advance notice as possible. Our goal is to make sure you have the best experience possible.
What happens if I have to cancel?
→ Because of the limited number of workshops and availability of one-on-one instruction sessions, once we schedule a spot, it won't be available for anyone else, therefore we can not offer a refund unless the cancellation is 90 days before the workshop date for one-day workshops and 120 days before the workshop date for 2-3 day workshops. This policy is necessary to assure us that those who sign up are serious about the adventure and will not back out, ruining the opportunity for someone else.
However, there is an exception to every rule. If, for some reason a workshop or one-on-one is cancelled by its instructor, you will be entitled to a refund, or may choose a credit for a different date. [Read our refund policy and other terms here]
Be prepared to take better photographs!
→ These workshops will help you develop skills, learn techniques and get to know your camera and equipment like never before. As a bonus, you will have a fun time and build friendships while learning to improve your photography technically. The result? You'll be capable of producing photographs as beautiful as any professional!
Workshop Price and Deposit
The workshop fee is $295. Due to the exclusivity of this trip, and the limited number of seats available, refunds are as follows:
- 100% refundable: 90-days (3-months) or greater
- No refund within 90-days or less of the start date
- Seats are transferrable
What is/isn't included?
The workshop/tour price includes:
- Transportation from our meeting location, to the other workshop locations, then back to our meeting location.
- Professional photography instruction.
The workshop/tour price DOES NOT include:
- Transportation to/from our meeting location
- Alcoholic beverages
- Instructor gratuities
- Travel insurance
Behind the Scenes: