Patience and Diligence

Many people might assume that photographers are extremely lucky because somehow we’re always in the right place at the right time.  But the truth is that luck rarely has anything to do with.  Rather, great photographs are often forged out of planning, understanding, patience, and diligence.  Such was the case for a recent shot I took near Santa Cruz:

There’s this fantastic shelf just north of Four Mile Beach in Santa Cruz, and on this shelf is this cool, pseudo-seastack.  And when the tide is right the waves come in, crash against the rocks and send jets of foamy wash around the pseudo-stack to cascade back into the ocean.  It’s pretty excellent to watch.

I’ve been trying to get a good shot of this phenomenon for awhile now – ever since I found this shelf in the first place.  But the conditions have to be just right in order for the photo to happen: the tide has to be higher than 3 feet, otherwise the water doesn’t come up high enough to go around the stack.  At the same time, the tide has to be lower than about 4 feet, otherwise the ledge you stand on to see the waterfall from gets doused repeatedly by the waves.  And you also need some nice sunset color to the southeast.

With the limits imposed by the tides, there’s only a window of a few days about every two weeks when you can attempt this shot.  And if the sunset doesn’t cooperate during that window, well then you’re out of luck and have to try again later.  I visited this shelf no fewer than five times before the conditions finally all came together for me and I was able to capture this image.

So you can see it wasn’t luck that led to this photo, but rather an understanding of the necessary conditions, and the patience and diligence required to return to this spot over and over until I got the result I wanted.


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