Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Wilder Ranch State Park beach sunset, Santa Cruz, California

Taken at Three Mile Beach in Wilder Ranch State Park on May 15th, 2011

This bridge is possibly my favorite feature along the Santa Cruz coast. At high tide the crashing waves flow right under the bridge. And in rough seas the pounding of the ocean can actually be felt through the bridge, providing a somewhat unnerving experience.

 

Fury

Panther Beach stormy sunset, Santa Cruz, California

Taken at Panther Beach near Santa Cruz on March 25th, 2011

Nature photographers can tread a fine line between dangerous and dramatic. On the day I took this shot I originally had planned to teach a photography workshop. But the other instructor and I decided to reschedule because of the risk of rain, hail, and massive waves. We thought it might be too dangerous for a group. But I decided to go out myself, staying on the safe side of that line: capturing the incredibly dramatic conditions at Panther Beach from the safety of some rocks poking up out of the surf.

Buried Treasure

San Gregorio State Beach sunset, Half Moon Bay, California
Taken at San Gregorio State Beach near Half Moon Bay, California on February 16th, 2011

San Gregorio State Beach has the glassiest sand I’ve ever seen. The beach is so smooth and flat that the reflections that set up in the sand are nothing short of astounding. This section of the beach in particular was extremely fun to shoot: a big set of waves would roll up and soak the beach, then roll back, exposing hundreds and hundreds of feet of pure glassy goodness. When this would happen I would chase the outflowing waves 30 or 40 feet down the beach then spin back around to shoot the glowing clouds to the north. Then another big set of waves would come in and chase me back up the beach.

 

Fire and Foam

Davenport Main Beach sunset, Davenport, Santa Cruz, California

Taken at Davenport main beach in Davenport, California on February 4th, 2011

Davenport main beach holds two very interesting attractions for me as a photographer. One is the prominent seastack. The second (and more alluring, in my opinion) is a series of rocky fingers that rise up out of the sand. The fingers are only accessible at low tide, and with the right waves, the contrasts between the dark rock and the white foam is sublime. Top that off with a gorgeous sunset, and you have a recipe for awesome photography.

Fireworks

Fireworks

The Story Behind This Photograph:

Taken at Hole in the Wall Beach near Santa Cruz, California on December 22nd, 2010

On this particular night at Hole in the Wall Beach, a remarkably low tide exposed entrancing patterns in the sand that radiated out like an explosion.  With the fiery display of light in the sky it seemed like gigantic fireworks were going off at the beach.

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Adraga Allusions

Hole in the Wall Beach sunset, Santa Cruz, California

Taken at Hole in the Wall beach near Santa Cruz, California on December 7th, 2010

On a night with an extremely low tide I visited my favorite beach in Santa Cruz to see what had been exposed. And much to my happiness, a cluster of interesting rocks I had never shot was accessible. I was struck by how much the formations reminded me of the rocks I’d seen in photos from Adraga Beach in Portugal. Once I found a composition I wanted I waited for a wave to come up and wrap around the rocks. But the ocean did not want to cooperate. Finally, just as I was about to move a bit closer to the water, a single wave came up around the rocks and allowed me to capture the watery streaks seen in this photo.

 

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.