The California coastline is a maze of craggy rocks, steep dropoffs, dangerous currents, and un-paralleled beauty. The ruggedness and remoteness of most of the 655 miles of coastline is what makes that beauty unique. Droves of tourists come on a daily basis to enjoy the winding roads up and down the craggy coast. One section in particular is equaled in its remoteness, beauty, and peril; Big Sur. Just a short drive south from the haven of Carmel by the Sea, the Big Sur region is an awe inspiring land of amazing coastline. And mans triumph over that land is exemplified by State Highway One. Which, over the years has suffered tremendously under the peril of the high cliffs with their many landslides due to constant erosion. But thats whats makes this place special for photography, theres always an aura of danger, and the scenery is fantastic for digital imagery.
Fellow instructor Aron Cooperman and I had a full group on this one day adventure down south, and we started at the Crossroads in Carmel. After a brief orientation where we got to know more about our students individual passions for photography, we made a short drive over to the Carmel Mission Basilica, for a quick refresher in basic photographic concepts, and to warm up our groups creative juices. Inside the mission, there is a plethora of things to make images from. Aron and I started by helping our more beginning students to get a handle on things like the exposure triangle and composition, before we let them loose in a kind of a photographic hide and seek. We spent the next hour working with everyone individually and showing them our favorite spots to make images.
After everyone got the hang of gathering images from the mission, we hopped back into the van and headed south, to an amazing vista overlooking some of the most quintessential coast in Big Sur. This grand view is a perfect addition to any California photo album, and truly captures the essence of the rugged coastline. We spent time up there working with our group to perfect their shots and using filters like polarizers and graduated neutral density filters, we enhanced them in-camera. From there we headed back to the Bixby Creek Bridge, probably the most famous bridge on the PCH. Its a 714 foot long, 280 foot high concrete monolithic structure, built in the 1932 and is one of the tallest single-span concrete bridges in the world! Its massive arch is a triumph of engineering and a beautiful sight juxtaposed with the natural beauty of the canyon below. Aron and I took a couple different groups to various vista points around the bridge to get our group the best possible angles for their collection.
At last it was getting close to sunset, so we headed further north to Soberanes Cove, where we made our stand for sunset. The cove has a warm sandy beach and two sea-stacks, with a view looking north towards the craggy coast. Mixed with the green hills above, this shot is one of the better places for sunset. The surf was nice, with big waves pounding mercilessly onto the jagged rocks. We setup and had our group pull out their filters, and Aron and I worked with them on proper usage to tone down the extreme light from the sky and blend it better with the darker foreground. While the light was still good, we also had some of the group try and use different techniques to stop the waves, either by using solid filters to shoot incredibly long exposures, or no filters to shoot at just right shutter speed to make it look like the water was exploding on the rocks like a firework display. As the light faded, we packed up and headed north to call it a day. And what a day it was! Beautiful weather, awesome group of people, and the images to prove it!
Until Next Time,
Scott, Aron and the rest of the Aperture Academy Team
P.S. If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.