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Light on the Marin Headlands - San Francisco, California | by PatrickSmithPhotography
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Light on the Marin Headlands - San Francisco, California

The prospect of a perfect alignment of the lowest tide of the month, at sunset, with a clearing storm and the sun setting furthest south (to the left) to light up the Marin Headlands (on the right) was too good to pass up, so I headed out for some shooting! No HDR.


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Settings etc.:



Canon 5D Mark II

Canon 17-40L @24

0.5-second exposure @F14

LEE soft ND grad (100x150mm) 0.9 + 0.75

Lee foundation kit filter holder with Lee 77mm adapter ring

No polarizer.

ISO 50

Small Slik tripod with Manfrotto pistol grip ball head

RAW file processed with Capture One by Phase One

TIFF file processed with Photoshop

No shoes so I don't have to worry about getting wet.




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:


When I got here, the sky was dark and heavy, and the tide was about a foot higher, so this scene was hard to imagine at that point. But I noticed on the satellite website that the storm might break right at sunset. So I thought I had a chance.


Eventually the light got better. So while I waited for the right light over the bridge, I did some long exposures of a pier to the right of the frame that came out really well. I'll show those later. Then I took off my shoes and headed out. Fortunately it has warmed back up to normal so the water was fine. Then, the sky opened up and I made about 20 versions of this scene as the clouds and waves rolled by.


It was hard to believe that every single element I had hoped for could possibly come together like this, but never say never! I have some with a glossy surface with a reflected bridge but this version had some nice dynamic motion so I'm going with this one. It is moments like this that make me glad that I took up photography.


The map shows exactly where this is, even though it shows no beach. The beach is only there during a VERY low tide. No hiking required but you must climb down slippery rocks to get here.


See my Flickr profile for a link to my newly designed website.



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Taken on December 13, 2009