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Great Laguna Beach Sunset

Last night was one hell of a sunset here in So Cal. Luckily, I was scheduled to take a student to Laguna Beach for a lesson/shoot. We picked a beautiful beach just below the Montage Resort where it was low tide and plenty of rocks abound for good foregrounds. It had been a really long time since I've visited this beach for some photos, and when I returned, I kind of remembered why it had been so long.

Although this area at low tide is really interesting, it is a little bit tougher to get a good shot than in some of the other places I've visited. It's actually quite deceiving because the rocks look great, the tide pools look great, the reflections look great, but the problem is just how dark the rocks are and how little variation in color there is. The rocks are really dark brown and the sea life covering it is really dark green. As a result, the subtle textures and colors can be difficult for your camera to capture. Without some practice, careful composition and spot-on exposure, the details get lost and the foreground ends up looking like just a big, boring mass of ugly rock.

Thankfully, that stunning sunset made for some great reflections.

Surprise Sunset at Crystal Cove

I went out to Crystal Cove on July 1st with a very talented student of mine for a lesson. The weather was overcast thanks to the typical marine layer we get here in June-July. I wasn't going to hold my breath for a great sunset, but then I saw a little break in the clouds above us. That break grew larger until the marine layer burned off to a perfect balance of clouds and sky, resulting in some seriously awesome colors as the sun dropped.

For this first picture (which was taken later in my set), I wanted to highlight the reflections of these beautiful clouds in the wet sand. My intention was simplicity - make the picture all about the clouds and water without any rocks to distract.

I'm a little bit obsessed with wet sand reflections. I try to capture them just about every time I go to the beach for a shoot.

These next pictures are from earlier in the evening. Both are the same composition, but I felt the different wave patterns created such vastly different emotional responses in each that it was worth sharing both.

I felt this first one communicated the power and movement of the waves. Looking at it, you can almost hear the roar of the water as it comes crashing towards you. Gives a feeling of chaos and excitement.

This next one, however, is much calmer. Although the waves are choppy, the lack of whitewater and more prominent reflections creates a more serene feeling for the viewer . Also, the lack of ground in this picture makes it seem like you are further out in the water - as if you are looking at this scene while floating calmly on a boat. Personally, this one is my favorite. I like the emotional response it elicits in me.

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“New” Pictures from the Archives

I was going through a backlog of images and found a batch of pictures I realized had never been posted on my blog. They were taken in January at Crystal Cove State Park. I like 'em, so I thought I'd pull them out of the archives and post them up for you guys. Especially with the ugly weather of summer setting inĀ (ugly for photography, not sun-bathing), I figured it might be awhile before I have any new material for you.

These first shots are my favorite from that day. I went out into - literally IN to - a large tidepool and shot back towards the mainland where the beautiful warm light of the sunset was bathing the cliffs nicely. The reflections off the water were stunning. I liked how the scene looked more like a mountain landscape than it did a beach - almost like a serene lake with a sun-kissed mountain in the background.

I know, the following picture is a lot like the one up top. I couldn't decide which one to post over the other and I think they are different enough to have their own merits. I was really diggin' the textures and colors in the rocks above and below the water surface, so I worked with that in several of the shots.

The following picture, especially, really looked more like a mountain scene to me than a beach. It must be the rocks under the water's surface and the stick floating off to the left. But I think that's why I photographed the hell out of this area - I can get a little bored shooting out towards the ocean all the time (you guys outside California are probably shaking your heads in disgust at that comment). It was nice to get a unique view for a change.

Then I moved out to the beach to capture a more classic seascape with ocean, rock and sand. The sunset, as you can see, was gorgeous. Ah, how I miss the skies of winter and fall...

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