Rocks and Surf, Weston Beach. Point Lobos State Reserve, California. January 13, 2013. © Copyright 2013 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
A long exposure photograph of shoreline rocks and surf at Weston Beach, Point Lobos State Reserve
I had been a while since I had photographed along the California coast south of Monterey, but I finally made it back down there on this mid-January morning, ending up at the Point Lobos State Reserve. This is a location I shoot frequently since it is barely more than an hour from my home, and I’ve gone there since I was a kid. Today was perhaps not the ideal day to photograph there – it was (literally) freezing cold in the morning and then the skies were almost completely clear. Clear skies are not my favorite for photography. I much prefer some fog or clouds. In this photograph I dealt with that by pointing the camera down and placing the horizon very close to the top of the frame.
Arriving at the reserve, I first headed down to the familiar location of Weston Beach. (I still cannot quite figure out which this place is called a “beach” – rocky slabs slope down to the water and the closest thing to sand is a bit of rocky gravel. But I digress…) When I arrived, the early morning sun was almost back-lighting the islands and sea stacks to the south of here, so I walked back up the road a bit to find higher ground to shoot in that direction. While shooting from there I saw that it could be interesting to shoot below this trail and much closer to the water, using a very wide-angle lens and perhaps a 9-stop neutral density filter to extend the exposure. Rather than hoping the fence to get to the likely spot 20 feet away, I was a “good soldier” and I walked back a hundred yards or so, took the “official” trail down to the “beach,” and then worked my way back to the rocky spot that I had spotted from above. I lined up some shoreline rocks and a crack that allowed a bit of surf to come in closer, positioned the horizon very close to the upper edge of the frame, added that 9-stop neutral density filter, and made several long exposures that would allow the surf to become flat and almost misty. Usually I might not want the very harsh light on the rocks, but here I like the way it contrasts with the smooth and filmy quality of the water.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.