Santa Cruz Coastal Photography Workshop: Blue Skies and Happy Photographers

It’s been great to see more and more women join our workshops as time goes on. Photography seems to be a male-dominated hobby and I’m really enjoying seeing that tide turn as more and more ladies get into it. On our latest workshop we had an exactly even split between men and women, beginners and more experienced shooters. But despite the mix, everyone who came out with us had two things in common: a love for photography and a desire to get better.

And that desire to learn is one of the best things about our Sea to Summit Workshops. We pride ourselves on being a “teaching” company, one that gives you the information you need to take your photography up a notch. And this means we can improve your photography even when conditions aren’t the best for creating memorable images.

As it was this past Saturday, we met our group under sunny skies, which are just about the exact opposite of what you want when you’re out doing seascape photography. But nevertheless, the warm temps and azure blue of the sky put our group in a great mood as we headed out to Davenport main beach.

The harsh light of midday sun notwithstanding, conditions were just about perfect at Davenport: the low tide exposed the famous “fingers” of this beach, and the nice swell sent cascades of water crashing off the Davenport sea stack. We split the group up into two sections, Jim talking composition with the more experienced students, and me taking those on the beginner end to go over the basics of shutter speed and aperture. I love teaching less experienced photographers because you can get in on the ground level and fill their heads up with good fundamentals. And as great as it was to see the students nodding their understanding, it was even better to hear one of them say “That was the first time I’ve ever heard shutter speed and aperture explained in a way that makes sense.”

As the students roamed the beach, Jim and I bounced from one to the next, helping them solidify their understanding of exposure, histograms, and compositions. Soon enough it was time for a snack break before heading off to Hole in the Wall beach. At Hole in the Wall, the students were understandably excited about all the cool rock formations and crashing waves so we immediately turned them loose to start making images.

As the light began to fall, we worked with the group to understand filter use, using shutter speed to create beautiful silky water effects, and some of the most fundamental concepts in composition, like the rule of thirds, leading lines, depth, and perspective. The students shot and shot and the variety of beautiful images being produced was fantastic. Once the sun set the temperature dropped about 20 degrees and the students began to think more about their chilly toes than their camera settings (with the possible exception of Duane, our Canadian, whose home in northern Alberta was a frigid -24° when he left!). So we packed it in and headed out for our usual post-workshop celebratory pizza.

On behalf of myself, Jim, and Sea to Summit Workshops, a big thanks goes out to Duane, Mary, Rick, Gail, Ryan, Dharini, Mike, and Cynthia for being such a positive and fun group!  Looking forward to seeing you all next time.



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