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Grey Whale Granite #1 - Grey Whale Cove, California | by PatrickSmithPhotography
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Grey Whale Granite #1 - Grey Whale Cove, California

I went to the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin festival last weekend. A 1535 (697kg) monster pumpkin won the contest. Then of course since I was near the ocean, I looked around for some seascape action! No HDR.


Free wallpaper for over 100 of my images in 6 different screen sizes is now available!


See the 1200 pixel version!



Settings etc.:



Canon 5D Mark II

Canon 17-40L @17.5

(I never go out all the way, too fuzzy on the edges)

0.3-second exposure @F14

LEE soft ND grads (100x150mm - 4x6in) 0.9 + 0.75

Lee foundation kit filter holder with Lee 77mm adapter ring

No polarizer.

ISO 100

RAW file processed with Capture One by Phase One

TIFF file processed with Photoshop

Small Slik Sprint mini II tripod

Manfrotto 322RC2 pistol-grip ball head



The Story



The fog began to move in as the sun went down and it looked hopeless. However, after looking at the satellite pictures on my little 3g notebook pc, I noticed a hole in the fog forming at Gray Whale Cove Beach. (A great spot for whale watching.) The rest of the coast was socked in by low fog. This beach is about 10 minutes south of Pacifica, California. It is an easy drive but a somewhat less-easy place to approach. It is surrounded by cliffs and the parking lot is across the very busy highway 1 so you have to dodge freeway speed cars coming around curves in either direction. Fortunately if you do not become road-kill, there is a solid set of stairs which provide easy access and a nice workout on the way back up with no danger whatsoever.


The soft golden granite sand is perfect for walking and photographing too. Here is a view down the beach looking south as low fog slides under a brilliant red sunset in the high clouds. This is a super-dangerous beach in the winter stormy season and even on this somewhat calm evening, surges woudl wash over these rocks every few minute with little notice. Ther is something about the underwater topology that makes for lots of chaos. But what beautiful chaos it is!


The map shows the exact location.



Other stuff



My pictures are featured on the front page of the newly redesigned

The state Gov. of California website. Have a look! It is Flash with my pics cut into layers for a 3-d slideshow. If you are into building apps, the State has opened up lots of data to the public, so check it out!






Google Earth


Simply the best way to scout out locations that there is. You can see sun angles and pre-visualize light under lots of different conditions. Sometimes you can actually pre-compose your shots! This has saved me many thousands of vertical feet of climbing by avoiding spots with blocked views etc.


Satellite imagery (choose 'National' for a local US region or use your fave website)


Tide charting and preditions: (chose your area in US, other countries have similar websites)


Wave Heights (I choose 'North Pacific from Global')

Or Here:


Photos of every inch of the California coastline from a small plane. Excellent for close in detailed views.




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Taken on October 16, 2010