Marin County Portfolio 2
Marin County has an incredibly diverse landscape and seascape. It would take a lifetime to explore and photograph every part of it. And even then there would be more. It has rugged coastlines and steep mountains backing the sea. There is a 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.
I was out to shoot the sunset at McClures Beach in Point Reyes, just north of San Francisco, but the fog became too thick. I knew about this row of trees on the way to the Point Reyes Lighthouse so I headed over there. I have been waiting for about 3 years for a misty foggy sort of day where I could capture this scene with some extra depth and light that you don’t see without fog.
Notice how the trees gradually receed into the mist? … If you try this, walk the entire length of the path looking for the best composition. This was halfway down the lane.
McClures Beach is a difficult place to photograph because there are so many choices! To the right of the background rocks is the portion of the beach I showed previously. And as you can see, the light is much different over there. Sometimes it is better on one side than the other, so I ran back and forth repeatedly trying to decide what to do. The horizon was very bright so I used the rocky point to block the sun.
I have never quite seen light like this above a rock. And this looks exactly as it does on the camera’s viewscreen. Then I waited for the waves to paint themselves in a pleasing way with a bit of dry golden sand in front.
I never tire of this view and even at sunrise, there are lots of walkers, runners and bike riders passing by. If you ever have a chance to see this place at sunrise, I highly recommend it! But fog can happen so check the forecast first. The Golden Gate Bridge is just to the right of the frame and the fog flows right through it to this spot and across to the islands and the Bay Bridge in the distance.
Usually, April is the start of the dry season, so when clouds come into the area I take full advantage!
Yes, this looks totally unreal, but it looks exactly like it did in the back of the camera. I left the saturation slider on zero. The 1-minute exposure has reduced the elements to the minimum and these colors only lasted for 3 minutes. I had time to take one before and one after this one. Then the light was gone. I walked back and forth on the beach to arrange the pilings into a pleasing pattern.
McClures beach (30mi NW of San Francisco) makes me nervous when there is moderate to big surf. (This is moderate!) The waves come in big with no resistance. There are many rougue waves, which make for lots of dramatic moments as long as you stay alert enough to aviod being obliterated! Every minute or so, a large wave strikes this rock, so I waited for light to strike the cliffs and moved into this spot. After about 20 shoot-and-run attempts, I finally got this. Sometimes the waves were too big, but this one was just right. When they are really big, they just fill up the frame looking like a big blob.
The wind bent the trees and grasses as the fog rolled quickly over the lower hills at Mt Tamalpais on a late spring evening. Most of the time when there is low ocean fog, the skies are clear, so seeing higher clouds in the sky is a rare event. I used a 1/2-second exposure to show a little motion in the fog and the foreground grasses. I like including motion whenever possible even if it is extra work. I had to shelter the camera and tripod with my body in order to avoid camera shake.
Here is a view halfway up the main canyon ar Muir Woods Namtional Monument in Marin County. I used the big trees to frame a more distant view. The dark marking on the trunks are the results of summer dry season fires, which used to sweep through the canyon before this area was inhabited my humans.
The bark is relatively fire retardent but fires still can do damage and even hollow out trunks, which are repaired with further growth.
I headed out to have dinner in Marin County, just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. Of course I scheduled it for an hour after sunset so I could stop by Rodeo Beach for some shooting. It is very easy to get to. Just park and walk on the beach. But as I pulled into the parking lot I got this sinking feeling as I realized that I left my tripod in the other car. I decided to look around for something to use as a tripod, or a monopod. I eventually found a nice 3-foot long (1m) 2×4. The standard size used in building houses.
It worked perfectly and I got the shot!
The bark of the coastal Redwood is fire resistant but not completely so. Summer fires can damage the trunks, but they usually grow back. Now, the forests are protected from fire but that means more brush can grow and when a fire does happen, the brush can explode into a towaring wall of flame.
The result can be a striking sort of abstract image that can be visually striking.
Two trees are joined together with another behind them. They may have been shoots from an older tree, it is difficult to tell. They are so massive that they simply fuse together when they get too close!
Over a 1,000 year period, a redwood tree can put out shoots that turn into new trees. when the old tree dies, the shoots take their place and a ring of big trees is formed.
On this morning, the clouds stuck around for a dramatic sunrise and then were gone about an hour after I saw this view. I live across the bay about 20 miles (30km) away on the left side of this picture behind Angel Island. So I only go here when there is a decent chance of good light.
I chose a short exposure time here because there were these cloloful ripples in the water and no wind to mess them up. This place has great long-exposure potential as you may have see in other views from here. And I used a wide angle to take in as much as I could. It was so dramatic and the weather was mild and humid. I almost forgot to take the shot!