Group photography workshop in Santa Cruz, California

California Coastal Workshop Recap – November 2-4, 2012

Our annual California Coast weekend workshop once again hit the coast with a great group with participants from the bay area, southern California, the east coast, and the great white north, Canada. After an introductory meeting and slideshow Friday night, we started Saturday morning with a colorful sunrise overlooking one of the best stretches of coast just north of Santa Cruz. With a strong dynamic range between shadowed bluffs and bright sky, the “magic filter” as Don called it, my Singh-Ray 3-stop reverse grad filter made the rounds to help better balance the scene. Off we went to Bean Hollow to photograph the amazing textures and tafoni formations. This beach certainly didn’t have a lack of interesting formations to photograph. As an instructor, I think my favorite moment occurred at this beach. As we walked down the path and onto the sand, a large surge channel came into view. Dramatic it was, and soon, more than half the group was lined up photographing it. But the strong sun left long shadows, and as everyone got their fill, the realization came that there were a myriad of photo opportunities around.

Don and Candice photographed long exposures filled with great elements in their compositions. Nirav scouted the smaller details of the tafoni and found a great “skull” pattern in the rocks. Danny sought out and found some leading lines in the sandstone shelves, and Ed sought some solitude on a nearby sandy beach. Awesome! After lunch, we headed to Panther Beach and battled the tourists as the weather had become unseasonably warm. After some exploration and scouting, the group settled in for sunset. Once more the “magic filter” made the rounds as shooting directly into the setting sun with a nice flat horizon puts that reverse filter to great use. Timing and balance were the key concepts I tried to emphasize.

The second day started at the Capitola Pier. Last year, we ran into a fog fest, but this year we had some nice blue hour into clear sunrise conditions which helped challenge the group to deal with changing light and adapt to the conditions. Post morning shoot, we headed north again for some more rugged coastal action. The surf had picked up and I witnessed a nice diversity of images being made. From wide angle scenes to detailed wave impacts to intimate landscapes isolating rock forms and moving water, it certainly seemed the creative juices were flowing. After lunch, we spent some time going over some post processing basics and workflow ideas. I’ll admit, my workflow is in a state of change, so the group got an inside glimpse to my struggles with Lightroom, but I hope my enthusiasm for it as a beneficial tool came through. Then, it was off for one last sunset as we headed to Four Mile Beach. The surf was up, and the iconic sea stack and horseshoe cove made their way into a lot of compositions. I can’t fault anyone for that, those elements are striking and very photogenic!

Thanks so much to our best group of the year: David, Candice, Mary, Danny, Ed, Don, Nirav, and Marlene, it was a pleasure. Good light to you all!



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