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Pinnacle Fury | by Willie Huang Photo
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Pinnacle Fury

I can finally lay this location to rest. This was my fifth visit to this spot and I finally captured what I wanted: raging surf and cloud action. The combination of conditions has always eluded in my previous visits, only getting one or the other. This shot was taken down in Point Lobos State Reserve, the northern edge of Big Sur. Point Lobos is one of my favorite areas of the California central coast. It has coastal forests, various coves, beaches, wildlife, and has endless compositions for photography. If I lived closer to here I would probably be down here almost every weekend for the spectacular views it offers.


Enough with the background info, here’s the story behind the shot. The Bay Area was rocked by some of the largest thunderstorms the night before. I contemplated heading out to SF to capture the epic storms but ultimately ended up sitting at home. In my almost four years in the Bay Area, the series of thunderstorms was the most intense I have encountered. The main cells passed the night before but a few patch thunderstorms remained throughout Friday. On my way down to Point Lobos, I encountered one of such patch thunderstorms on Hwy 101. I felt like I was driving through monsoon season in the southwest.


The central coast was full of drama from the passing thunderstorms. The surf was much more rough and higher than I had ever seen at Point Lobos. This shot was more difficult to pull off than appears. Though I was well above Pinnacle Rock, the high surf continuously kicked up significant mist that kept bombarding me. On top of that the surf created foam that tended to blow out my highlights or created wave action that appeared like a giant swatch of white. I realized I had to time it with the right sized wave and with an exposure not too long to get the shot I wanted. I waited, shielding my filters from the mist, and I sprang into action when the proper waves moved in. I managed to capture the rough wave action detailing the unrest of the ocean, light beams behind the clouds, and a patch thunderstorm that appeared out of nowhere on the horizon.


Hope you enjoy!


Canon 5D Mark II

EF 17-40mm f/4L


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Taken on April 13, 2012