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Passing Storm - McClures Beach, California

The evening before a very enjoyable workshop I did with Dave Fitzsimmons yesterday, we headed out into a rain storm to do some shooting. I had a feeling the sky would open and let in a last bit of light because this is the first place to clear after a storm. We lucked out! No HDR.


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See the 1200 pixel version!



Settings etc.:



Canon 5D Mark II

Canon 17-40L @40

1/6-second exposure @F11

LEE soft ND grad (100x150mm) 0.9 + 0.75 (5 1/2 stops total)

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

Bare feet, no way to keep dry if you wish to get close!



The Story



After a brief but heavy rain, the skies cleared just as the sun set. Only in March and September does the sun set at an angle to show every little detail on the monolithic rocks at McClures Beach, in Point Reyes National Seashore. During winter, the sun sets behind the rock, making it a black silhouette. And in summer, the sun sets with the light almost directly striking the rock, which also diminishes the detail that can be seen. (You could probably get this effect in April, I would guess.) Also as always, the transition between the end of the storm and beginning of light are often the best times to be here.


The next evening (yesterday), we were back for the workshop and the wind was literally sandblasting us. I did not shoot because I wanted to make sure that nobody got caught by a rogue wave. I have never seen wind conditions this bad. But fortunately some high clouds moved in and the tops of the nicely formed waves were being blown sideways by the wind. It was majestically scenic! It reminded me that if I had not taken up photography, I would not be out there to witness such a spectacle. I would be inland enjoying the sun in my back yard, away from the wind which literally blew me off my feet once. That is one of the best things about photography, you get a chance to appreciate and look forward to, what would normally be considered bad weather!


Thanks to everyone who attended. We all survived a serious sand blasting and I look forward to seeing our photos in this new group I formed.






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.


The map shows exactly where this is. It is an easy hike from the parking lot.


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



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Taken on March 12, 2010