Summer in the middle of winter. That’s how the weather was in Santa Cruz towards the end of January: sunny and 70 for days on end. As a sunshine-lover I’d normally think this was great, but the crystal clear skies had me worried that Jim and I would see only boring, bland conditions for our Santa Cruz Seascapes Coastal Photography workshop. So when the weather forecast showed partly cloudy skies on Saturday giving way to thunderstorms on Sunday, I thought we had hit the weather jackpot. As it turns out though, we got more than we bargained for.
Our group of 8 students met right at noon at Natural Bridges, under partly cloudy skies. After we finished our introductions we brought the students down to the beach to take a look at the iconic arch and start them thinking about why shooting seascapes can be so different, so challenging, and so rewarding. It seemed like the students had barely broken their cameras out when a light drizzle came from out of nowhere and proceeded to very slowly get everyone wet. The students were troopers though and the dampness didn’t stop them for a minute as they experimented with different shutter speeds and depths-of-field. In fact, I think almost everyone followed us into the surf to try their hand at capturing different kinds of wave action. And it didn’t take long till we had people soaked up to the waist, laughing and smiling.
Before we could blink the workshop was halfway over and it was time to head out to 4 Mile beach. 4 Mile was a welcome change from the crowds at Natural Bridges, as we had the entire beach to ourselves, and the low tide meant an infinite array of interesting rocks and shelves were exposed. The fantastic setting, along with some mid-afternoon snacks and the fact that the rain had stopped, really buoyed everyone’s mood and the students were all over the place, enthusiastically practicing their compositions. Jim and I helped everyone work with near-far concepts, as well as how to utilize their wide-angle lenses to create depth in their photos. As the students shot shot after shot, I watch an incredible variety of creative photos appear on the backs of their cameras.
As sunset drew near, we took the class down to the south end of 4 Mile in order to shoot the wave action pounding the rocky shelves. To our great fortune, the clouds began to clear and some fantastic beams of warm light began to shine through. After that exhilarating, intense burst of light (during which I heard a few exclamations of joy and saw some awesome photos being produced), we all watched as a gorgeous, subdued, tropical-esque sky manifested. In the lower light we helped the students set up some long exposure shots to capture the dreamy mood of the evening. Eventually it got too dark to shoot, so we packed it in and headed back to the parking lot to say goodbye to most of the group. A few plucky souls joined Jim and I later for pizza and a brief image review. A great way to end a great workshop!
Our sincere thanks go out to our wonderful students for the day: Shane, Carole, Kim, Raymond, Paul, Christien, Albert, and Matt. We couldn’t have done it without you!