Thursday, July 25, 2013

Driving Down Highway 1 - The California Coast

Last week, I needed to head to Southern California to teach at each of the Samy's Camera store locations. After setting up my schedule, I determined that it would be just as easy to drive there as it would be to fly. I also looked at this as a rare chance to make the long drive by myself and stop whenever I wanted to. No family or friends asking me "Are you really going to stop here too?" So... I rented a nice car from Hertz on Monday morning and headed for Highway 1. Just me, my iPhone, my Canon 5D Mark III, camera bag, and a long winding highway.

So come along and join me for a virtual cruise down the coast of Central California.


My first stop was in Castroville, the artichoke capitol of the world. I pulled over and headed into one of the fields to take a wide shot of the endless artichokes.


Continuing South, I crossed over the Bixby Creek Bridge and found this patch of flowers to serve as my foreground.


While shooting images and zooming the lens, I came across this staircase to...uhhhh...nothing.


Another view of the Bixby Creek Bridge from farther down the road.


It was just after 1pm and my stomach was making noises louder than the engine of the car, so I pulled over at the famous Nepenthe restaurant. This restaurant is located in Big Sur, right along the coast, and offers great food and amazing views. As you can see from the photo above, the clouds were finally burning off.


While waiting for a table, this nice group of people from Europe asked if I would take a photo for them. I used their camera and then took a shot with mine. We started talking and I showed them a couple of things to try with their camera. At this point, they asked me to join them for lunch. What a treat.


While showing them some techniques with the camera, I shot this portrait of Peri. (Photographer's note: Whenever I shoot photos of people, I always get their email address and send them the edited photo. It's something nice that we can offer others!)


Honestly, the photos do not do justice to this coastline.


I framed this photo to show the coastline and the curving road. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to tell the Highway 1 story in one photo.


I was driving down the highway, doing my best to pay attention to the road, but also checking out the view of the ocean off to my right. At one point, I thought I spotted a spout from a whale. I pulled over and grabbed my Canon 28-300mm lens to see if I could spot any marine life. Much to my delight, right below me was a pod of dolphins and some whales feeding on a school of fish. I have lived my entire life in California and never really seen whales in my own state. This was exciting to see. Not the best photo, but it was special nonetheless.


What is a coastline trip without a lighthouse photo?


Just North of San Simeon (where the Hearst Castle is located), I was fortunate enough to come across a group of Elephant Seals. At this point I was thankful to have the 28-300mm lens.


Why can't we all get along?


As these Elephant Seals lay on the beach, they are constantly using their flippers to flip sand on their bodies. I held the camera steady and shot this photo at 1/50 sec to show the motion of the sand.


I had fun watching these two seals fighting for position.



I was shooting photos of this young seal when I heard a child nearby say, "Why do the baby seals look so cute and then grow up to look so ugly?" This made me laugh.

My next stop was Santa Barbara. I ended up stopping here for the night, since my first store visit was in this small coastline town. And the coolest thing happened. I got to my hotel, and 8 hours after meeting my European friends at Nepenthe, we saw each other again in the lobby of the Santa Barbara hotel. Dinner and drinks were in order for sure!


After presenting at Samy's in the morning, I wanted to go and explore this town. I walked around downtown for a little bit and then got into my car and headed for Mission Santa Barbara. I saw people walking in front of the mission and taking the standard "Mission photo" with just the building and nothing else. I wanted something more interesting than that. I was lucky enough to find chalk paintings in front of the mission, which made for a perfect foreground element.


I also looked around and saw these flowers on the other side of the park from the mission. This was another nice foreground element for a photo. (Photographer's note: When you are photographing a building or subject which is often photographed, try your best to find a unique view. Remember that a good photo will usually have a strong foreground, middle ground and background.)


A couple of hours after visiting Santa Barbara, I ended up getting caught in the very nasty Los Angeles rush hour traffic. Having nothing to do with that, I got off the highway and headed for Manhattan Beach. I walked around for a little bit and then headed to the pier, where I saw some surfers.


It was now late in the day and the sun was getting low on the horizon. This was a perfect time to shoot photos of the surfers (provided that they turned towards me, to get the last sunlight on their faces).



This one guy was really good and provided some awesome photo opportunities for me.


After shooting these images, I looked at the LCD of the camera and knew that he would like the photos. I waited for a break in the waves, when he was just resting on his board, and I yelled down from the pier, "Hey! What is your email address?" He paddled over towards me and yelled it to me, Once again, a win-win situation. I get some cool photos for my collection, and so does he!

And so ended my long drive down Highway 1. It was a really fun trip, capturing photos, seeing the beauty of the coastline, and meeting new people.

8 comments:

Carol said...

Your blog is so timely for me, as we are going to the Oregon Coast next week. You gave me a lot to think about. Thank you.

Michelle Del Rey said...

Thank you for sharing. I really enjoyed reading your journey! Awesome shots!

Jim Mimna said...

Awesome photos! Love your work!

Sheri Wheatley said...

I love how you make someone's day by emailing them photos you have taken. Your photos are beautiful, thank you for sharing them.

Tim Rubans said...

Fabulous images as always Jeff!

I love being off on your own and capturing scenes within life and nature that give you that "buzz" when you nail it - and then get to share also!

I'm off to shoot the Gertrude St. Projection Festival in Melbourne, Australia tonight.
Your B+H presentations have given me some great tips for preparation!

Cheers!

gthomassen said...

Really fantastic stuff Jeff, really enjoy your photo blogs. You've inspired me to try and take some good photo's on my holiday. We are going to be visiting Central Oregon for a couple weeks and Maui for a week!

Jeff Cable said...

Glad you enjoy the photos. And...just so you all know...I appreciate the feedback. It inspires me to keep shooting and blogging. :)

Jeff

Jessica Brunette said...

wonderful! thank you for sharing.