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Monolithic Light - McClures Beach, California | by PatrickSmithPhotography
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Monolithic Light - McClures Beach, California

Sometimes everything seems to come together for a brief moment. A lot of it is pure luck I say! 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 wide all the way!)

1/5-second exposure @F14

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



Yes, much of this is the result of good old-fashoned luck. True, I did plan to come here because It was raining and it looked like the storm would clear out (moving to the left) just as the sun set. And I did know that the waves would be of a decent size. I also knew that the tide would be high and that this time of the year is when light strikes the monolith rock at a slight angle just as the sun sets.


However, I did not know that the pattern in the clouds would line up with the briefly appearing retreating lines of foam. I did not know that the waves on the right would momentarily appear in front of the newly opened red colored gap in the clouds. And I did not anticipate that the retreating dark grey clouds moving off to the left would provide some color contrast compared to the otherwise colorful scene.


When you add up all of the randomly appearing elements in this photo, they count for at least half of the total surface area in the frame. I guess what I'm saying is that no matter how much you plan and think about what you hope to witness, nature is so random that you will always be surprized! And that is half the fun, don't you think?


Here is a group I formed for the workshop that was held the next day.






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