One of the talking points on our Santa Cruz workshops revolves around ocean safety. Another involves the dynamic nature of the ocean and all the wonderful ways it can be rendered with a variety of camera techniques. We also talk about the challenges unique to seascape photography. Well, the ocean made sure Sea to Summit Workshops kicked off its second full year with a bang! Huge, pounding surf was the highlight of our first 2012 workshop. As Santa Cruz finally was getting our winter, we headed down to Four Mile beach to start the day on the rocky shelves down by the signature sea stack.
Normally, this shelf offers us a great staging area for starting the workshop. We are high and dry with little risk of getting wet. But on this day, the largest sets would wash up the shelf, almost as high as the bluffs behind us! With a healthy respect for the ocean’s power, we got underway. Whereas our multi-day workshops are geared more towards photographers who are fairly comfortable with their manual settings, our 1-day workshops are great for a wider variety of skill levels. Josh took a few students aside to go over basic camera settings while I helped students with composition, filter use, and whatever other questions they might have had. The persistent wind and large swell certainly kicked up a lot of salt spray which proved challenging, but I still saw some great images being made.
We headed to Panther Beach for our second location as the tide should have been low enough to get through the signature “hole in the wall”. But once down on the beach, that idea was thoroughly squashed! Never have we seen the arch so large and the sand so scoured out from beneath it. The surf was doing what it does best, and the ever changing sand levels offered a unique photo opportunity. After a quick filter and composition lecture, we let the students loose where they photographed this beautiful, natural rock portal. As sunset neared, the group gathered on the north end of the beach to photograph the transitional light of sunset into blue hour. Filters were employed, compositions determined, and histograms were checked along the way. This was my favorite part of the workshop. One of the take home points we cover early in our workshops is how each individual’s creative vision will differ from one another. Despite a group of photographers standing just a few feet apart, each one can come home with a different image because they each wanted to tell a different story. So while some photographers used their telephoto lenses to focus in on freezing the waves exploding 20-30 feet high, others slowed things down and used 30 second exposures to render the turbulent seas into a fine mist.
Thanks to Mary, Brad, Monica, Sheri, Dave, John, Andrew, and Ron for coming out. You were a great and enthusiastic group!