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New Work: Laguna Beach Sunset

Sunset in Laguna Beach, CAMamiya RZ67 with 50mm f/4.5 on Fuji Velvia 100 film
1/2 at f/22 - Lee 2-stop split ND filter

- Please click images for larger versions to really enjoy the detail -

Believe it or not, the best sunsets here in Orange County don't coincide with peak tourism season. I always feel bad seeing the beaches packed in June and July under overcast skies. Visitors from the other side of the country aren't aware of our "May Gray", "June Gloom", and "July Ugly Sky" (okay, maybe that last one isn't a common phrase). They have dreams of a sunny Southern California, but instead get something more akin to London.

Our best skies really come in early fall and late winter. I think it must have something to do with the seasons changing - it just brings good clouds for colorful sunsets. Not good sunbathing weather, but boy is it good for photography. Plus, the beaches are usually empty at this time, so you know, double bonus!

This last February brought some beautiful clouds that resulted in some very photogenic sunsets. Luckily, I was able to get out and shoot one of them. I opted to use my Mamiya RZ67 medium format camera as opposed to my large format 4x5. I love the process and incredible detail of 4x5, but it's just hard to run away from waves when the camera is that big and slow. The Mamiya gives me a little more room to book it when a wave comes in hot. And while I was out shooting, I was happy to show some curious teenagers how my strange "box camera" works. A lot of people might feel old using a camera that a seventeen-year-old has never even seen before, but I love it.

I used a 50mm lens for this shoot (which is considered wide-angle in the medium format world) along with my favorite high-saturation film - Fuji Velvia 100. In hindsight, I wish I'd used Velvia 50 for a warmer color palette, but the cooler color palette of my chosen Velvia 100 worked just fine.

Sunset in Laguna Beach, CA

Mamiya RZ67 with 50mm f/4.5 on Fuji Velvia 100 film
1 second at f/16 - Lee 3-stop split ND filter

Sunset in Laguna Beach, CA

Mamiya RZ67 with 50mm f/4.5 on Fuji Velvia 100 film
2 second at f/16 - Lee 1-stop & 3-stop split ND filters

Sunset in Laguna Beach, CA

Mamiya RZ67 with 50mm f/4.5 on Fuji Velvia 100 film
1 second at f/16 - Lee 1-stop & 2-stop split ND filters

Sunset in Laguna Beach, CA

Mamiya RZ67 with 50mm f/4.5 on Fuji Velvia 100 film
1 second at f/16 - Lee 1-stop & 2-stop split ND filters

Sunset in Laguna Beach, CAMamiya RZ67 with 50mm f/4.5 on Fuji Velvia 100 film
2 seconds at f/11 - Lee 1-stop & 2-stop split ND filters

Crystal Cove Sunset

Well, I've been delivering private photography lessons across Orange County like a madman the past couple weeks. This week is showing no signs of letting up either. It's good to be busy!

Sunset in Crystal Cove State Park, CA

For one of the private lessons last week, I took a student (Sheldon of www.aroundthebendphotos.com) down to Crystal Cove State Park to photograph the sunset. This was after a couple previous lessons in which we covered how to shoot in manual mode, how to use filters for landscape photography and more.

Thankfully, nature was kind enough to serve up a fantastic sky with just the right cloud cover to create some color in our sunset. It turned out to be a beautiful evening.

Sunset in Crystal Cove State Park, CA

Sunset in Crystal Cove State Park, CA

For more information on my private photography lessons in Orange County, click here. Or if you're outside Orange County, check out my online photography courses here.

Wood’s Cove Waves

Sunset at Wood's Cove in Laguna Beach, CA

We've been getting some decent skies here in Southern California lately. As I've said before, the transitions between summer to fall and winter to spring typically serve up the best skies around these parts. I was lucky enough to have some spare time last Friday to head down to the beach and get some photos.

I decided to switch things up a bit and try a beach I'd never photographed before. That's always a gamble because, being unfamiliar with the area, it can be hard to judge how crowded the beach will be, where exactly the sun will set in relation to the foreground subjects and whether or not the angle I want will be possible.

But the good news is that I'm a student of my own teachings...and I like to teach the importance of scouting a location beforehand in order to get comfortable with it before committing to a sunset. This reduces unknowns and misjudgments when it comes time to get down to business. Having scouted this beach several days earlier, I was pretty confident where to point my camera once the sun worked its magic.

I played a lot with a slow shutter speed on the waves to catch different patterns. All in all, I took about 2 dozen shots of this same exact composition. Each had a slightly or drastically different shape and texture to the waves. I thought I'd share 3 of them with you here. The pictures aren't hugely different since they are the same composition, but I think the different look of the waves create very different moods in each shot. I still can't make up my mind as to which one I like best.

 Sunset at Wood's Cove in Laguna Beach, CA

Sunset at Wood's Cove in Laguna Beach, CA