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Some New Seascapes

Ah, you gotta love winter in Southern California. The weather isn't bad enough to be a hassle, but there's just enough of it to bring some color to our sunsets.

Over the past couples weeks, I've been able to get down to the beach several times to get shots at sunset. This post covers just 2 of those outings (with 2 more days coming in another post soon!). The first set here is from Laguna Beach down below the Montage Resort and are actually my results from the field shoot for the recent winter 2011 session of my Landscape Photography Class. The clouds were fantastic and lit up a blood red as the sun dropped below the horizon. It was gorgeous.

In this first picture, I wanted to capture all the sea life in this tide pool along with the perfect reflection of clouds off the water in the background. I couldn't believe how many sea urchins were in this pool. I had to get my camera uncomfortably low for this shot, but it was worth it.

Laguna Beach Sunset

I then moved over to the sand to get the movement of the water with, again, the reflections of the clouds off the ocean surface in the background. I couldn't decide which of the two verticals I liked better, so I thought I'd post them both. They have a different enough feel to warrant two pictures, I think.

Laguna Beach Sunset

Laguna Beach Sunset

Laguna Beach Sunset

Once the clouds flared up red, I moved back to the rocks and tide pools.

Laguna Beach Sunset

The second day was at Crystal Cove State Park. The sunset wasn't as vivid as I normally like, so I didn't come home with a ton of pictures I loved. Again, I couldn't decide which of the following two pictures I liked better, so here's both.

Crystal Cove State Park Sunset

Crystal Cove State Park Sunset

There you have it. More from Corona Del Mar coming soon!

From the Archives

I was browsing through my archives in search of some pictures for an upcoming Tips & How-To post when I stumbled upon the following image. I posted several others from the same day back in September 2010, but this one slipped through. I opted to post some variations on it back then, but on looking through them tonight, I think this is one of the best from that sunset. Funny how something can look better to you with time...

Crystal Cove State Park

Low Perspective at the Beach

Crystal Cove State Park

I have some new beach landscapes to share with you. I'm going to talk a little more than I normally do about how I captured these pictures because it was something I'd never done before.

I've been a little burned out lately on Southern California beach landscapes. I'm kind of bored with the scenery and I feel like I've taken so many similar pictures that I have a hard time creating something fresh. I know, I know...you readers out in the central and eastern parts of the country are trying to strangle me through your computer monitor right now.

Yes, it's a little embarrassing to say because I know how lucky I am to live in Orange County, but I do get burned out with seascape photography. So when I went out last month to Crystal Cove State Park, I decided to break out of this creative slump by doing something I'd never tried, read about or even thought of before. I needed a new perspective. Something different. Something uncomfortable. So I came up with the perfect solution...

Seascapes from just an inch or two off the ground.

Crystal Cove State Park

I'd done pictures this low before in hillside landscapes with good results, but I wondered how it would make the beach look. Getting that close to the sand and water might show it in a way you couldn't see otherwise. It was sure to create something fresh. And since I'd never done it before, it was sure to get the creative juices flowing.

The only problem was getting my camera that low. I could splay out my tripod legs and lay on the ground with it, but that would make dodging the incoming surf a stressful endeavor...and I'd have sand in all sorts of uncomfortable places by the end of the night. Instead, I opted for a much safer but much less precise method.

I dropped my tripod to about 2 feet off the ground. Then I flipped around my center column so my camera was hanging upside down underneath my tripod. I estimated where to aim it, did a test shot, fine-tuned it, then did a couple more test shots. Once I had the placement right, I picked out my split ND filters and estimated where to put them, again doing test shots and fine-tuning. Once I had everything locked in, it was time to shoot. You can get an idea of how low my camera really was with this shot that included my tripod leg.

Crystal Cove State Park

One of the nice things about this set-up is it allowed me remain standing, firing the camera with a cable release, leaving me free to grab my tripod and camera off the ground in a split second when the waves came rushing in.

I took tons of shots, getting more and more brave with the advancing tide as the night wore on. I'd wait until the very last second to fling my tripod up into safety before the water engulfed it. I took several pictures with the goal of capturing the little bubbles left behind by the receding sea.

Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park

Then, when the clouds really flared up with color, I took a more typical standing-height shot of these rocks.

Crystal Cove State Park

All in all, this new shooting technique was a ton of fun to experiment with and it did clear up my "photographer's block" a bit. Go out and give it a try! Just don't get too brave...