The Sea's Embrace - McClures Beach, California

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What could be better than a beautifully lit evening at the beach, enjoying the pounding surf as it tries to destroy ... erm... .. I mean embrace everything in its path including you and your camera? Sometimes it is best to turn down a nice hug! No HDR.

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Settings etc.:
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Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 17-40L @17
1/10-second exposure @F13
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
Keen water shoes

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The Story
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McClures beach (30mi NW of San Francisco) makes me nervous when there is moderate to big surf. (This is moderate!) The waves come in big with no resistance. There are many rougue waves, which make for lots of dramatic moments as long as you stay alert enough to aviod being obliterated! Every minute or so, a large wave strikes this rock, so I waited for light to strike the cliffs and moved into this spot. After about 20 shoot-and-run attempts, I finally got this. Sometimes the waves were too big, but this one was just right. When they are really big, they just fill up the frame looking like a big blob.

I'll repeat this warning... Always have an escape plan formulated in your mind in advance of heading in close to the action. When a big one hits, you have no time to think, but you do have time to execute your planned exit strategy!

This was taken during a winter workshop with Dave Fitsimmons. Thanks to everyone who attended. See other photos in my new group.

The map shows exactly where this is. It is moderately easy 1/2 mile downhill hike from the parking lot. But you have to hike back up!

See my Flickr profile for a link to my website.


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.

Abdullah Al Romaithi, juandiegojr, and 415 other people added this photo to their favorites.

View 20 more comments

  1. Genibell 47 months ago | reply


    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called All that Glitters..(Admin Invitation Only) ~ Post 1 - Award 2, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

  2. jວy 47 months ago | reply

    this is so perfect!

  3. djsitaun 47 months ago | reply

    Spectacular shot. for bigger wave i must learn how to shoot and run

  4. [nosamk] KMason photography 46 months ago | reply

    amazing shot!! I love the wave

  5. HenryLeongHimWoh 46 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Post one fave three, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

  6. Tannachy 46 months ago | reply

    I love the commitment you put in to help people understand the detail and thought you put into all your shots! Makes for very interesting reading on top of looking at some quite remarkable photos.

  7. melenama 45 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called USA by tips4travels, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

  8. Philip_Wal†on_94 [deleted] 45 months ago | reply


  9. ellabellared 45 months ago | reply

    Stunning shot

  10. Nas t 44 months ago | reply

    Wow what a beautiful shot !

  11. frikkiekapp 44 months ago | reply

    incredible image! love the variety of the texture and elements. gr8 timing like all your ummm "planned luck" shots. work of a true master

  12. asthar00 39 months ago | reply

    Fantastic picture

  13. Marythomasgr 37 months ago | reply

    Simply beautiful!

  14. I luv beauty 31 months ago | reply

    To all the people who share their photos with others ! THANK YOU TONS .I love each and every one from one who [ LOVES BEAUTY IN ALL ITS MAJESTY] I luv beauty

  15. Roger_T 22 months ago | reply

    this looks great

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