Sea to Summit Workshop – Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz - Hole in the Wall Beach by Sheng Huang (projectxo) on 500px.comI finally got around to join the Sea to Summit Workshops in Santa Cruz ran by Jim Patterson and Josh Cripps.  They hold landscape workshops up and down California coast; and every once in a while, they venture out to the sierras.  Boy, did I learn a lot.

  • It gets cold in Santa Cruz.  Even when the sun is out.  In August!
  • Be prepared to get wet if you want to capture interesting shots.
  • Your lens gets dirty (salt spray) even you can’t feel the mist.
  • Your tripod will get sand in the legs.  Be prepared to wash them.
  • Sky is boring unless there are clouds.  Keep as little of it as possible.
  • You need a decent graduated neutral density filter.  Get the 4×6 so you have room to move the edge to the top or bottom of your frame (see previous bullet).
  • There is a difference between landscape and seascape when it comes to graduated neutral density filters: a) soft edge works well for landscape, b) hard edge works better for seascape since there is usually a very clear horizon and when the sun sets, it gets very bright right at the horizon.
  • Experiment with the timing of the wave when doing long exposure.  Shots taken while waves crash in vs. while waves recede have very different look.
  • Composition is everything.  Having a leading line definitely helps.
  • You CAN shoot into the sun, see picture below; provided that you have the correct graduated ND filter.  This is something I avoided at all cost in the past.

The location of these pictures is what locals call Hole-in-the-Wall beach.  Because, you literally need to walk through a hole in the wall (cliff) to get to the beach.  I need to find time to go back there when there are killer clouds.  The hole should also a great location for portraits.  I need to figure out how to convince Ann to let me do her swim wear catalog.

I did have to post-process the picture to bring out the contrast and details.  For the above picture, I didn’t have the hard edge GND filter.  So I processed the raw file in two exposures – one for the ocean and the rock, then the 2nd about -1.5 stops for the sky.  I then overlay the sky on top of the normal exposure using mask.

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