Big Sur. What does that even mean anyway? I guess the story goes that "Big Sur" is a derivative of the Spanish "el sur grande", or "the big south". Makes a lot of sense actually because as you drive south out of Carmel, for as far as the eye can see, there are near vertical cliffs sweeping down from the rolling mountains to the rocky shores of one of the most famous coastlines in the world. Big Sur.
This was our destination for our November 2019 Big Sur workshop. I met 6 eager guests for a quick orientation before we loaded into the Aperture Academy Mercedes Passenger van for a 5 hour adventure. We made our first stop at Bixby Bridge, one of the most famous spans along California's Pacific Coast Highway. As Sunday's go just before a holiday it was very busy but we managed to draw on some of our ApCad luck and tucked the ApCab into the perfect parking spot. As we unloaded we joked we would sell that spot to someone when we left (ha! It was that busy!).
We spend the next hour at Bixby Bridge working on a variety of compositions and fighting the harsh early afternoon sun. Drawing further on our ApCad luck some nice foggy clouds moved in and muted the light and we literally took all our images again so that we had some sunny versions, and some muted light. Each would make for a great learning experience and more options for image review and processing.
From Bixby Bridge we headed south to one of the most famous turn-outs along the entire California coast, McWay Falls. As far as I know, there are only 2 waterfalls that flow into the Pacific Ocean along the PCH and McWay is one of them. Truly spectacular sight, an 80 foot waterfall flowing into the soft sands just feet from teal surf. The light here was challenging at best but as photographers we have to learn how to work in all types of conditions and this was certainly going to be a challenge. Everyone received lessons around histogram and shooting in Manual mode for the most finite control of shutter speeds. This allowed us to make very small, precise, changes to exposure all while using the histogram as a guide in the bright afternoon sunlight.
Our last stop of the day would be along the Garrapata coastline. The fall ice plant was turning to reds and oranges and really added some great color to our foregrounds and the cliffs of Sobrantes Cove. We captured some great seascapes and used some slower shutter speeds to give the shifting tides some softness. As the light faded the fog rolled in really fast and that was our cue to wrap up our journey.
Until Next Time,
Stephen 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.
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