Big Sur South Photos

Big Sur and San Louis Obispo Counties

This especially rugged coastline rises from the sea to over 5,000 ft. elevation just a few miles inland. This geography creates some outstanding seascapes of grand proportions and some interesting rock formations as well. This stretch of coastline extends from just south of Pfeiffer Beach in the north to San Louis Obispo County in the south.


Morro Sands - Morro Bay, CaliforniaMorro Sands – Morro Rock State Beach, California

When the tide is low around the equinox, the sand is reflective and the sun cuts across the rocky face of this extinct volcano so show it off at it’s best.

I waited for just the right moment to capture the greatest reflectivity and light. Usually even at low tide, the water is either moving or the sand is dry. So these moments do not last long!


Library of Ages #1 - Montana De Oro, CaliforniaLibrary of Ages 1 – Montana De Oro State Park, California

The rock layers which record the geologic history of Montana De Oro State Park just south of Big Sur (3 hour drive south of San Francisco and 3 hours north from LA), can be read like books in an ancient library. A long exposure isolated the rock by smoothing the large surf. A dark fog moved in just as the sun set to enhance the mood and allow a longer exposure time. I did make some more dramatic shorter exposures which I may show later.

It is amazing to think that at one time, these layers were put down one at a time on the bottom of the ocean. Then they were lifted and tilted at a 45 degree angle! See the Sierra Club web page for this park:


Library of Ages #3Library of Ages 3 – Montana De Oro, California

There is nothing better than trying to compose a photo while walking on slippery rock layers set at a 45 degree angle while unpredictable seas lash out at you! But the light was so good for about 3 minutes…. No HDR.

The rock layers which record the geologic history of Montana De Oro State Park just south of Big Sur, can be read like books in an ancient library. This is one of my two favorite spots for photography that I’ve seen along the entire California coast.


Walking on Glass #1 - Pismo Beach, CaliforniaWalking on Glass 1 – Pismo Beach, California

This couple was fortunate enough to be witnessing an unbelievable sunset just after an early winter rainstorm was clearing away from the coast. As they walked along, the sky opened and the sun illuminated a low bank of fog and mist right behind them. They stopped and watched it all happen for about two minutes before the clouds returned and the went on their way. The depth in the cloud deck was impressive and the tide was the lowest of the month at sunset. Everything came together for just a moment on this evening.

The sky did end up being a nice red for the sunset but the light here (1/2 hour before sunset) provided better depth to the image.


De Oro Surf - Montana De Oro, CaliforniaDe Oro Surf – Montana de Oro State Park, California

As mentioned above, the rock layers here are tilted at a 45 degree angle and are very slippery. It is nearly impossible to walk and I actually had to get out to this spot on my hands and knees. There was simply no way to walk.

I usually try to get close, knowing that I can shoot and run if the waves come at me, but in this case it is impossible to run. I brought along a sheet of plastic to shield me from the blows of the sea, and she did strike some blows!


The Rock - Big Sur, CaliforniaThe Rock – Big Sur, California

This 50 foot rock on San Carpoforo Beach at the south end of Big Sur, California really takes a beating! No HDR.

The 3,000-5,000+ foot mountains make a nearly overwhelming backdrop for this beach, midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, when the light is right. It took a considerable amount of running back and forth to get the proper perspective, as the water was moving fast. On few beaches do I feel the sense of complete isolation that I feel here. There were no people on this beach and this is far from civilization. This is what it must have been like many thousands and millions of years ago.