Marin County Photos 1

Marin County

Marin County sits along the San Andreas fault, and as a result it has some rugged coastlines and steep mountains backing the sea. There is also a nice gap in the hills at the Golden Gate, where the fog flows inland. These conditions result in some fine photographic opportunities if you know where and when to look for them. A landscape photographer could spend many thousands of hours shooting and still have more to see.

 

Faultlines - Mt. Tamalpais, Marin County, CaliforniaFaultlines – Mt. Tamalpais, Marin County, California

The sun sets over the Pacific Ocean just north of San Francisco, illuminating ridges formed by the San Andreas fault, which slipped 16 feet at the surface in 1906. The japan quake moved the surface by 15-20ft in the tsunami area and 9 inches in Tokyo, with bigger slippage far offshore.

Mt. Tamalpais is the ultimate place to watch the sun set over the Pacific. It is over 2,000 feet (700m) almost straight down to the shoreline and there is commonly low fog drifting though. The San Andreas fault (and erosion) have created lots of undulations and photo opps! It runs left to right just in front of the darker (forested) Bolinas Ridge in the distance and has rippled the surface on either side.

 

Tamalpais Glory - Marin County, CaliforniaTamalpais Glory – Marin County, California

At sunset, the coastal fog began to move inland towards the distant horizon. As it did, it wrapped around Mt. Tamalpais creating fantastic swirling shapes. It was moving fast! I used a 3-second exposure to capture the motion of the fog as the last rays of the sun turned the high clouds a brilliant red.

Usually by June, the flowers have faded for the dry season, but because of a cool spring, they were still there fortunately, so I backed up the hill under a prickly Manzanita bush to get the flowers into the foreground. Sausalito and Mill Valley are in the foreground with the Richmond San Rafael bridge crossing the bay under the fog to the left. San Francisco is behind the fog bank to the right.

 

Monolithic Light - McClures Beach, CaliforniaMonolithic Light – Mcclures Beach, Point Reyes, Marin County, California

The south side of Mcclures Beach is accessible via a slot in the rocks that is closed at high tide. It allows a spectacular view to the south which includes the monolith on the left and a larger island behind that.

The waves break aggressively on this exposed stretch of beach on the tip of the Point Reyes penninsula. During each equinox in March and September, the light strikes the monolith at an oblique angle at sunset allowing the relief of the monolith to be seen clearly. In the winter the sun sets behind the monolith and it appears as a dark silhouette.

 

Angel Island Sky #4Angel Island Sky 4 – Sausalito, California

I returned to Sausalito to capture the morning fog lifting for the day. There are few clouds during the summer, but the fog can really create some good atmosphere and light under the right conditions.

As usual, this warm light lasted for about 5 minutes or so. You don’t get a second chance with fog because one moment it is too thick and the next minute it burns off to clear skies for the rest of the day! Hopefully it breaks through before it gets too harsh and bright with the sun too high in the sky. 1h x 2w ratio (20×40 or 30×60)

 

Endless Sea #2 - Marin Headlands, CaliforniaEndless Sea 2 – Marin Headlands, California

A series of huge storms ripped into California with winds so strong that on this day, I could not even get near the beach to attempt any photography. The beaches were covered in foggy-looking banks of salt spray and the wind would cause too much camera shake even on a sturdy tripod.

So, I walked around on the cliffs with the wind nearly knocking me over several times. I was looking for a small vortex behind a cliff where the winds are relatively calm but I can still get an open view. Once I found the best spot, I set up with the camera perhaps 1-foot above the ground and then time the waves for the best effect. Sometimes bands of rain would pass through and I had to abandon my position to hide behind a cliff.

 

Tamalpais Breeze - Marin County, CaliforniaTamalpais Breeze – Mt. Tamalpais, Marin County

In May, the rainy season has ended and the grass begins to turn brown. Here, there is still a little green left as the wind blows through the long grass. The air is warm above the chilly fog layer that is often arount 2,000 feet thick.

It is rare for there to be higher clouds on top of the fog later. It only happens about 10 times per year so when I see it happening, I head up here to capture the view.

 

Angel Island Dawn 2, Tiburon, CaliforniaAngel Island dawn – Tiburon, Marin County, California

The sun rises over San Francisco Bay on a partly foggy morning. The fog often slips under the Golden Gate Bridge and heads straight for Angel Island and pours over it like a liquid.

This is a good time to photograph the island. This effect does not last for long. In this case it lasted about 20 minutes and then the sun burned off the fog and that was it for the day.

 

Wall of Gold- Tennesee Valley Beach, CaliforniaHole in the Wall 1, Marin County, California

In Mill Valley, just north of San Francisco, there is a road that goes to Tennessee Valley in Mill Valley. From there, a trail takes you the rest of the way to the beach. It is a 30 minute hike from the trailhead to the beach. There are lots of wild animals like bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, skunks, oppossums and so on.

The beach looks like coffee grounds both in texture and color and contains specks of gold-like mica. The cliffs are reflective near sunset. A hole has been eroded in the cliff allowing light to stream through. The air is very salty here, which adds to the atmosphere.

This hole collapsed and does not exist any more. I was fortunate to photograph it when I did.

 

Hole in the Wall #2 - Mill Valley, CaliforniaHole in the Wall 2, Marin County, California

In Mill Valley, just north of San Francisco, there is a road that goes to Tennessee Valley in Mill Valley. From there, a trail takes you the rest of the way to the beach. It is a 30 minute hike from the trailhead to the beach. There are lots of wild animals like bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, skunks, oppossums and so on.

The beach looks like coffee grounds both in texture and color and contains specks of gold-like mica. The cliffs are reflective near sunset. A hole has been eroded in the cliff allowing light to stream through. The air is very salty here, which adds to the atmosphere.

 

Pyramid Rock #1 - Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, CPyramid Rock 1 – Point Reyes, California

I have always liked to visit McClure’s Beach to see the dramatic wave action. But it is usually too violent to get a good shot of it. On this evening however, low tide and a partly cloudy sunset allowed me to capture the light on the rock and water without getting drenched. The warm tone of the light showed off every detail and color in the storm-beaten rock at it’s best. Once I had a good view of the rock, I waited for the best light and then timed the wave to show how the water moved around the rock.

Most waves were too big, resulting in too much white foam and an ugly picture! So I had to wait for the sea to settle down, and then capture the first modest sized wave of the next set to wrap around the rock.

 

Redwood Detail #3 - Muir Woods, CaliforniaRedwood detail 3, Muir Woods, California

Even though the redwood forest only grows in areas with heavy rainfall, there are still about 6 months every year where it does not rain. The trees survive on fog for the rest of the dry summer months. But on the forest floor, it can be dry and fires used to be common before humans arrived on the scene.

The red bark and black charred wood create artistic shapes and patterns. When the light is right, it can be quite beautiful.

 

Endless Sea #6 - Marin Headlands, CaliforniaEndless Sea 6 – Mt. Tamalpais, California

This is number 6 in a series of photographs showing the endless expanse of the sea. I have intentionally not included any foreground or other reference points so the viewer can focus on the infinite nature of the sea.

It take take a long time before the light is right for a photograph like this. But eventually it happens. This was the view from 2,000 feet above sea level on a bautiful day on Mt. Tamalpais.