• I made sure that the mist gradually overtook the rocks, so some were sharp and others were misty. All or none does not look very good!
  • It is amazing how different layers of rock fall off the cliff and get mixed up in the surf, producing so much contrast.
  • Back lighting from the cliff behind the camera allows detail to be seen even in darker rocks with a brighter background.
  • I raised the camera high enough to see a bit of the sea behind these rocks.
  • I made sure to include a bit of sand, to contrast with the boulders.
  • I do not use polarizers because then, the reflected light on this rock would not show up, and the sky might look rather unreal. Well, it is is already surreal enough!
  • Under these surf conditions, anything less that a one-minute exposure makes the water look messy and like cotton. Each situation is different but in general, the longer the exposure, the better.
  • When I got here, the sky was cloudy, so I waited for some light to streak across the sky before beginning the exposure.
  • They are just rocks, but they seem like distant islands.
  • I liked the different colors of granite here, so I walked around to include several colors in the image.

Shores of Time - Big Sur, California

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Last weekend, I saw this at Garrapata State Park in Big Sur, Central California. This timeless place was begging for the long exposure treatment. No HDR!

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Settings etc.:

Canon 5D Mk II
Canon 17-40L @22
60-second exposure @F11
LEE soft ND grad (100x150mm) 0.9 + 0.75
Lee foundation kit filter holder with Lee 77mm adapter ring
ISO 50
RAW file processed with Capture One by Phase One
TIFF file processed with Photoshop
Low Tide at sunset.

This little cove is one of many dozens of lesser-known and hard to reach places along the Bug Sur coast. It is heavily guarded by steep cliffs, and lots of poison oak, which produces a bad skin rash to those that are allergic to the oils in the leaves and stems. So I make sure to wash off with lots of soap and water when I get back. Especially since I wear shorts and water shoes and the leaves can directly touch the skin. Still it is well worth the dangers to get here.

For me, long exposures work best when you have visually striking features that you wish to isolate and show off. So when I saw these colorful boulders and how they contrast with the sand and the different rock behind them, I knew to wait for the light to drop off so I could do a long exposure. The trick is to wait for a time when the water level is just high enough for the water to be between the rocks but not be completely covering them for very long. If the water is over the rocks for more than 10 second in a 60-second exposure the rocks get too soft. Also, I wait for periods in between big sets of waves. Smoother water (compared to 10 ft. waves) look better on long exposures.

So, even on a 1+ minute exposure, timing is still important. Also, wait for the clouds to be streaking across the sky for that surreal effect.

The map shows EXACTLY where this is. If you go there, DO NOT take the direct route from the road unless you like to bushwhack through poison oak! Park in the turnout to the north and scramble down the cliffs there and head south. Sometimes there are people fishing there.

Also, there are many other dramatic compositions here, but the light was not right for them on this evening. I'll just have to return!

See my thoughts on the new Canon 5D mk II here:

See my profile for a link to my website where I have limited edition prints and less expensive open edition prints.

Leo Druker, and 1207 other people added this photo to their favorites.

View 20 more comments

  1. Emotioned.com 69 months ago | reply

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  2. enrico13 naturalist photographer 69 months ago | reply

    Bellissima foto!! Complimenti

  3. DannyAndaluzPhotography 68 months ago | reply

    This is one of my all time favorite shots. Love the colors!


  4. *Saariy* 67 months ago | reply


    Sunset time at marina
    *Saariy's Quality Pictures Gallery*
    Please comment & fave at least 2 photos after yours.
    Tag your photo : Saariy'sQualityPictures

  5. Coco Carrigan 66 months ago | reply

    Beautiful shot and tones

  6. janruss 65 months ago | reply

    You are invited to display this dazzling beauty in the 14kgold group!

  7. janruss 65 months ago | reply


    Your fantastic color picture is my winner!
    Please add this photo to Color Photo Award - PREMIER
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    Get your VOTE ON at CONTEST CENTRAL! Have you entered today's contests?
    Seen in the group"900+ Faves 1-2-3 (Post one,Comment and Fave two)" ( ?² )

  8. Malevo4 65 months ago | reply

    Extremely beautiful. thanks to bring the pleasure to contemplate this photography

  9. Photo--Graphy [deleted] 64 months ago | reply

    So nice...

  10. Keenan Adams 62 months ago | reply

    You didnt have to say "No HDR".

  11. RedBerry™ 57 months ago | reply

    Excellent and wonderful view.

    Love it.

  12. SueZinVT 56 months ago | reply

    Fantastic! Congratulations on Explore!!

  13. AdventureFixMedia 7 months ago | reply

    Very creative Consider checking my gallery, you might find something you like!

  14. AdventureFixMedia 4 months ago | reply

    Fabulous colors x

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