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!


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


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.

McWay Falls, Big Sur

McWay Falls, Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park, Big Sur, California

Taken at McWay Falls, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur, California on March 21st, 2010

McWay Falls is one of the most iconic scenes along the incomparable Big Sur coast. And for good reason: the beauty of the place, with its 80-foot waterfall cascading down into a protected and inaccessible cove, is simply sublime. On Spring Solstice I was in a race against time as I drove down the winding Pacific Coast Highway, watching the sun sink lower and lower in the sky and wondering when I was actually going to get to the Falls. Finally, as the sun was dropping below the horizon I arrived at the cove and had just enough time to snap this shot as the fading light bathed the scene in pastel twilight glow.


Playing Footsie with the Devil

Spent the afternoon as usual: peering out the window to check on conditions down out the coast. Since I had missed the fantastic sunset on Friday, I was especially antsy to get some shooting in, so when I saw some clouds building on the horizon, I hopped in the car and zoomed away down to the beach!

After some close calls at Four Mile and Laguna Creek where I almost stopped to shoot, I ended up at my old standby: Panther / Hole in the Wall Beach

Down at the shore I was immediately impressed by the massive waves, which were bigger than I’d ever seen them at this beach. (And if that doesn’t foreshadow the events to come this evening, I don’t know what would.)

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You Never Know Unless You Go

Four Mile Beach sunset, Santa Cruz, California

So you’re sitting at home, looking out on a 100%, completely overcast day, and thinking:
“Great, I’m glad it’s cloudy because I need to get some work done. Got my first art show of the year coming up in a couple of weeks and there’s a huge amount of prep to be done.”

And then a little voice in your head says: “Hey, want to go out shooting at Four Mile Beach?”

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Four Miles of Fog

Four Mile Beach sunrise, Santa Cruz, California

Taken at Four Mile Beach near Santa Cruz, California on March 1st, 2010

When I’m not on the road I rarely wake up early to shoot the sunrise. However, in late February I had just discovered Four Mile Beach in Santa Cruz and was captivated its beauty. Thinking it could be a great place to catch the sunrise I suffered through an early-morning wake up in order to make a sunrise attempt. Driving up Highway 1 I saw some nice pinks and purples starting to show on the horizon. Down at the beach however I found a think fog bank obscuring all of that nice morning light. I waited and waited and finally, about 20 minutes after sunrise, the sun’s rays began to percolate through the fog a little bit and gave a nice, moody atmosphere to the whole place.


Shimmering Salmon Sands

Hole in the Wall Beach sunset, Santa Cruz, California

Taken at Hole in the Wall Beach near Santa Cruz, California on January 7th, 2010

The far south end of Hole in the Wall Beach is a wonderland of rocky formations, shelves, gaps, and holes. I initially intended to shoot an extremely long, narrow channel in the rocks, but after a few snaps I decided something more dramatic was in order, as the sunset was turning and becoming more beautiful by the minute. I was struggling to find a winning composition when, almost by accident, I happened to look behind me and saw incredible orange reflections forming in the wet sand. I knew I wanted those reflections to be the centerpiece of my photo and so set up in such a way that all the lines in the scene were flowing over and around that gorgeous sand.


Pride of Lions

Steller sea lions, Resurrection Bay, Seward, Alaska

Taken in Resurrection Bay, Alaska on August 16th, 2009

Alaska is an surreal place. Where else can you see glaciers, mountains, whales, seabirds, and sea lions, all on the same cruise? These Steller sea lions were hauled out on some rocks in Resurrection Bay, basking in the sun as powerful waves crashed around them. Look closely and you can see a scientific ID number shaved into the female lion on the right.