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Grey Whale Cove Surf - San Mateo County, California | by PatrickSmithPhotography
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Grey Whale Cove Surf - San Mateo County, California

Here is another view of Grey Whale cove at sunset during low tide at sunset. I was almost completely trapped in here but the granite is so beautiful that it is hard to resist. No HDR.

 

Free wallpaper for over 100 of my images in 6 different screen sizes is now available!

 

See the 1600 pixel version!!

www.flickr.com/photos/patrick-smith-photography/543900362...

 

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Details about this image:

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Canon 5D mark II

Canon 17-40L lens @19mm

1/4-sec. exposure @F10

ISO 100

ND Grads 0.9 + 0.9

No polarizer.

RAW file processed with Capture One by Phase One

TIFF file processed with Photoshop cs4

Small Slik Sprint mini II tripod

Manfrotto 322RC2 pistol-grip ball head

 

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The Story

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I made this photo just a few minutes before the last one I uploaded to my photostream. The colors in the high thin clouds were just starting to change. 5 minutes earlier there was no color but blue in the sky. 5 minutes later, the reds were so vivid that I had to desaturate the colors in Photoshop to get them under control!

 

This little area is only accessable during low tide and my back was right up against a big cliff. It is a little nervewracking being in here watching the next set of big waves moving in as you can see. This is a wide angle shot so the waves do not look too big, but about 20 seconds later, I was more than waist deep in the water and it stayed high for another 30 seconds. I had on swimming trunks so it was 'no big deal' and I just put my tripod over my head and waited. (For you tropical people out there, the air was warm but the water is cold (56f-13c) so many things were 'no big deal' if you know what I mean!) However, another photographer with a very big tripod had moved in next to me. I had not noticed him because I was concentrating on getting this tricky composition right. He had on long pants and tennis shoes and he got drenched! I felt bad that I did not warn him about the way the waves break here. A place can be dry for a few minutes and then. bam, it is submerged by 3 waves coming together at once. In most places, these sneaker waves happen every 30 minutes or so but for some reason they come every few minutes (every 15-30 wave cycles) here. It is like a normal set of bigger waves that you see on any beach combine and for a kind of surge. It is very odd. I warned a couple where were standing next to me just a few minutes earlier and they got out when the previous sneaker surge struck.

 

I got into this spot because I wanted to shoot the granite with the sun striking it as it can only do in the winter. It is almost like a magic cave or something. However, be very careful if you come here. It seemed like a harmless beautiful place, but the sea can 'reach out and touch you', if you know what I mean!

 

In the notes, I explain what I was doing with the composition. It was not easy to do.

 

The map shows the exact location.

 

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Other stuff

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My pictures are featured on the front page of the

state Government. of California website and the new Governor, Jerry Brown's website too. Have a look! It is Flash with my pics cut into layers for a 3-d slideshow. If you are into building apps, the State has opened up lots of data to the public, so check it out!

 

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Resources:

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Google Earth

earth.google.com/

 

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)

www.wrh.noaa.gov/satellite/?wfo=mtr

 

Tide charting and preditions: (chose your area in US, other countries have similar websites)

tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/tide_predictions.shtml?gid=235

 

Wave Heights (I choose 'North Pacific from Global')

polar.ncep.noaa.gov/waves/main_int.html

Or Here:

www.opc.ncep.noaa.gov/shtml/RP1bw.gif

 

Photos of every inch of the California coastline from a small plane. Excellent for close in detailed views.

 

www.californiacoastline.org/

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180 comments
Taken on February 5, 2011