Symmetry, Blob-Style

Wilder Ranch State Park beach sunset, Santa Cruz, California

Taken in Wilder Ranch State Park on November 30th, 2010

In Fall 2010 I was enamored of an out-of-the-way beach in Wilder Ranch, so whenever a good sunset potential presented itself, that’s where I headed. On this particular evening I really liked how these rocky blobs had captured pools of water which were glassy smooth and perfectly reflective. These little mirrors let me capture the best bits of the sky in two places.

Bowshock

Wilder Ranch State Park beach sunset, Santa Cruz, California

Taken at Two Mile Beach near Santa Cruz, California, on October 21st, 2010

In the Fall of 2010, I was making a great effort to simplify my photographic compositions. On this evening, while searching for something simple to compose on, I came across this single rock and decided to shoot a photo which emphasized the lone rock and the foamy wash around it. Composing the shot wasn’t quite as simple as it sounds though, as every time a wave hit the beach, it would roll the rock up and back down the sand. Finally the rock stabilized for a few precious seconds in this position and I was able to fire off this shot.

Lightning Bolt

Wilder Ranch State Park beach sunset, Santa Cruz, California

Taken in Wilder Ranch State Park on October 16th, 2010

On a weekend in May the fog was sitting in the Monterey Bay like pea soup: thick, and heavy, and full of bits of ham. But then suddenly the fog rolled back out into the ocean, leaving behind a sky full of incredibly interesting clouds, so to the coast I went. I ended up at this cool beach I discovered while scouting earlier in the year. I explored for a while and then set up to shoot as the sun went down and lit up all the layers of the sky. And just when I thought the light show was over and I started packing up my stuff, this crazy pink glow came up from out of nowhere and floated right out over this amazing little rock bridge.

The Rush

The Rush

The Story Behind This Photograph:

Taken at Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz, California on October 1st, 2010

Anyone who lives along the central California coast will tell you that summer brings a marine layer a mile thick and five months long. Which is a shame, because the fog and haze effectively stop all coastal photography for the entire summer. So it was not without excitement that I watched a few clouds building up this evening in October. In hopes of witnessing some sunset color, I met a few fellow photographers at Natural Bridges State Beach where we quickly realized that this was going to be no ordinary light show. As the sun set, the color arrived in heavenly waves: orange, pink, and purple light glowing so intensely it seemed to emanate from the very air, rock, and water.

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Archangel

Natural Bridges State Beach sunset, Santa Cruz, California

Taken at Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz, California on October 1st, 2010

Anyone who lives along the central California coast will tell you that summer brings a marine layer a mile thick and five months long. Which is a shame, because the fog and haze effectively stop all coastal photography for the entire summer. So it was not without excitement that I watched a few clouds building up this evening in October. In hopes of witnessing some sunset color, I met a few fellow photographers at Natural Bridges State Beach where we quickly realized that this was going to be no ordinary light show. As the sun set, the color arrived in heavenly waves: orange, pink, and purple light glowing so intensely it seemed to emanate from the very air, rock, and water.

 

Turkish Bathrobe

Davenport Main Beach sunset, Davenport, Santa Cruz, California

Taken at Davenport Beach, Davenport, California, on May 22nd, 2010

I’m often amazed by how much you can change your impressions simply by changing your perspective. On this night, the waves were huge and I started out shooting close to the water line in order to capture the intensity of the surf. I had a hard time getting my creative juices flowing however, and I took a few steps back to think about what I was doing. From my new, further-removed vantage point, I was immediately struck by how the waves that were so ferocious moments ago suddenly seemed soft and plush as they wrapped around the seastack, and it brought to mind the image of being enveloped in a cozy bathrobe. newly inspired, I used a slower shutter speed to add extra softness to the waves and enhance this idea of cozy comfort.

 

Salt Spray Samba

Four Mile Beach sunset, Santa Cruz, California

Taken at Four Mile Beach near Santa Cruz, California on May 10th, 2010

On this day, clearish skies gave way to amazing clouds as the sun set. Alas, the clouds brought the wind and salt spray with them, which meant my photoshoot felt less like a shoot and more like a dance: line up to shoot, shoot, curse due to salt spray drops on front filter, remove camera from splash zone, clean filter, return to spot, line up to shoot, shoot, curse, rinse, repeat. I was dancing in and out of the spray to get the best composition while trying to keep my gear clear of the oceany blasts. But it was a dance well worth doing because conditions were ideal: incredible light in the sky, killer reflections in the sand, and beautiful turquoise hues in the water.

 

On the Prowl (aka Doin’ the Panther Beach Shuffle)

On the Prowl: sunset photo at Panther Beach, Santa Cruz, California

Last week I called up my friend and fellow photographer Jim Patterson to see if he felt like going shooting. I didn’t have whatfor in mind, so Jim suggested a place called Pebble Beach near Pescadero. We cruised up the coast, being buffeted by high winds the whole way. We got to the beach, and hopped out of the truck to scope out conditions, and that’s when we began doin’ the Panther Beach shuffle.

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Splish Splash

Panther Beach sunset, Santa Cruz, California

Taken at Panther Beach near Santa Cruz, California on April 21st, 2010

After being repelled from other prospective photo locations for this night’s photoshoot due to flying foam and raging winds, fellow photographer Jim Patterson and I found ourselves at Panther Beach just as the sun began to set. The light show was gorgeous and Jim and I stood practically side by side, firing off shot after shot. Wanting to capture the excellent wave action we were seeing at the beach that night, I jumped down into the surf, buried my tripod legs in the sand, and waited for a wave to come shooting up and back down around me. One finally did, soaking me to the waist, and giving me a fantastic trail of foamy wash to use as the lead-in to this photo.

 

The Storm Breaks

The Storm Breaks at Natural Bridges State Beach, Santa Cruz

Early April was an incredibly rainy time here in Santa Cruz.  April 2nd was one of those days so rainy I didn’t even bother to check the conditions for sunset because of the steady downpour. Around 6:45 pm though, I heard something: Silence. All of a sudden it was too quiet! I looked outside and sure enough, the rain had stopped.  And what’s more, the clouds were breaking up and some glow was beginning.  So I really quickly threw my camera gear in my bag, hopped in the car, and jetted down to Natural Bridges, arriving just as the setting sun threw some lovely pastel colors out onto the tail end of the storm clouds.

So far since moving to Santa Cruz I’ve been avoiding Natural Bridges simply because it is such a highly-photographed beach.  But lately I’ve been wanting to add a Natural Bridges shot to my portfolio and this night ended up being a perfect opportunity since NB is the beach closest to my house and I didn’t have time to get anywhere else.  When I got down to the beach, I found a mid-level tide which kept me pretty far from the classic arch.  But that ended up being just fine since backing way off was the only way I could get the arch and the sky color in the same shot.  I loved the way the arch looked against the long exposure waves and I think I might have an infatuation brewing with that.  Now I just need another night with a nice sunset and a bit of a lower tide.  Can’t wait!

~Josh

Waterfalls and Waves

Four Mile Beach sunset, Santa Cruz, California

Taken north of Four Mile Beach, Santa Cruz, California on April 9th, 2010

Just north of Four Mile Beach there’s an interesting shelf with a neat rock formation. When the tide is right the waves come in, crash against the shelf, and send jets of foamy wash around the rock to cascade back into the ocean. It’s pretty excellent to watch, but the conditions have to be just right in order to make a great photo: the tide has to be higher than 3 feet, but lower than 4 feet, and you also need some nice sunset color to the southeast. After a number of attempts over many weeks, everything finally came together for me and I was able to get this shot.

 

Poseidon’s Drive-In

four-mile-wilder-ranch-sunset-santa-cruz

Taken in Wilder Ranch State Park, Santa Cruz, California, on March 30th, 2010.

Poseidon, the god of the sea, has a pretty sweet 100,000-inch movie screen with a trillion watt projector which plays all your favorite hits.  He’s got a pretty sweet sound system too and man, when the bass is booming you can feel it throughout your whole body.  Last night he invited me over to watch a classic sunset, which was nice of him because that’s one of my all time favorite pieces of entertainment.  We both forgot the snacks though, so I went home hungry, but I didn’t really mind since the light show was so good.