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December 11th Coastal Photography Workshop Write Up

Seems like only yesterday we announced Sea to Summit Photography’s first coastal photography workshop.  Well time just flies and before Jim or I knew it it was December 11th and we were meeting our first 8 bright-eyed and bushy-tailed victims, er, students.  The group arrived on time (30 minutes early in fact), keen to learn about shooting seascapes.  After quick round of introductions, Jim and I walked the group through a couple of seascape ground rules to make sure no one got too carried away (pun intended) by their oceanic photo adventures.

With that out of the way we took the group down to Natural Bridges State Beach where Jim led a discussion of learning to see what the ocean has to offer.  We spent time working 1-on-1 with the students in order to help them with some of the finer aspects of aperture control, depth of field, leading lines, and the rule of thirds.  Although the ugly kelp on the beach and the foggy atmosphere weren’t doing us many favors photography-wise, the students were still able to improve their technique.

Soon enough it was time to leave Natural Bridges and head out to one of the most interesting beaches in Santa Cruz: 4 Mile.  Once we arrived at the beach, the thick fog prevented us from seeing the famous seastack, but the students still oohed and ahhed at many marvelous boulders that dot the north end of the beach.  I spent a few minutes giving the students some philosophy about how to create an interesting and impactful composition and then they were off: up and down the beach finding rocks, ripples, seastars, and waves to shoot.  Jim and I worked with each student to make sure they were getting the help they needed to make great images.  We also introduced filters and how to use them to balance light.

As sunset drew near, we gathered the group one last time to talk about one of the most creative and fun aspects of seascape photography: using shutter speed and timing to capture wave action.  Then the group scrambled to find their winning comps as the fog cleared a bit and a beautiful orange-and-pink glow began to light up the sky.  And it was great to see everything we talked about during the day come together at the end.  The students were creating some great comps, catching some awesome water motion, and dialing in some beautiful exposures.  I’m happy to report that I saw some spectacular shots appearing on the backs of those LCD screens.

As darkness fell, our wet, cold, tired, but very happy group walked back to our cars and said goodbye.  A day well spent!

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