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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Last Days of Summer

Leo Carrillo State Beach, Malibu, CA - Sunset
A summer storm swept over So Cal in these last days of summer. It was a hold over from Hurricane Dean. Not much in the way of rain, but lots of clouds and humidity that only a summer storm can bring. I thought the clouds were thin enough for the sun to poke through so I headed to Malibu. I went to Leo Carrillo State Beach knowing that I would be able to see the setting sun there this time of year. El Matador Beach has cliffs that might block my view. In the winter the sun sets farther south and you can pretty much go to anyone of these coves, but in the summer you have to pick your spots.

Leo Carrillo State Beach, Malibu, CAA warm wind was blowing and the beach wasn't the way I remembered it. All the rocks that were prominent in my earlier photographs were covered with sand. I talked to surfer Kevin Ryan and he said that this is a typical pattern for this beach. The smaller summer waves push the sand up onto the beach and the bigger winter waves crash in to the rocks and pull the sand in back into the ocean. Looking for some foreground I was forced to perch myself on a small ledge on the side of a cliff.

One of the tricks to getting a good seascape is to catch the glint on the water. When the water moves out it leaves a thin layer of water on the sand and a beautiful reflection results. I like to frame up the picture and use a cable release. Then I don't have to look through the viewfinder anymore. I just look out at the ocean and when I see a good reflection I fire away. Often I use f/22 in order to get a longer exposure and gives a blur the water. When the suns in the frame I may chose f/8. At f/8 the sun is more of a soft edged glow and at f/22 it becomes a sharp edged circle.

Leo Carrillo State Beach, Malibu, CA
I'm not sure how good the pictures are but the experience was unbeatable. The waves should come in from the west, but once in while they would get enough power to go up the hill and come straight back at me filling the small cove (North to South). The waves would even climb the ledge I was standing on and trickle down. After the sun went down I walked along the beach. I turned back and took a shot of the moonrise. I used a 30 second exposure in order to get that cotton candy look on top of the waves. With the warm wind, beautiful light and majestic ocean, I truly enjoyed the last days of summer. The photos are just a bonus.

Leo Carrillo State Beach, Malibu, CA - Moonrise
For more on Malibu see Photographing Malibu
Some of the tips I got are from Tony Sweet's books
You can visit his site or buy his books on Amazon
For Photo Workshops see Don Gale's site

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Photographing Malibu

El Matador State BeachMalibu

Winters along California's beaches are magnificent for photography. I wait for a clearing storm and pack up my gear and hit the road. My favorite location is Malibu. There are many beaches but my two top picks are El Matador State Beach and Leo Carrillo State Beach.

Malibu Creek State Park Along the way there are long stretches of rolling hills with beautiful oaks. You can stop at Malibu Creek State Park in the morning or you can camp here and photograph the oaks in the early morning fog and then catch the sunset at one of the beaches.

El Matador State Beach
El Matador State Beach

Matador State Beach has some great sea stacks and the sun sets between the stacks in mid winter. I look for shorebirds, rock formations and pools of color once the sun begins to set. If you're patient you can find s-curves that develop along the shoreline. The dirt parking lot closes right after sunset so you'll have scamper up the two hundred or so steps back up to your car.

Leo Carrillo State BeachLeo Carrillo State Beach

Leo Carrillo State Beach has camping and a day use charge. The park has lots of parking close to beach. If you have a summer storm Matador Beach will be in shadow during the summer and here at Leo Carrillo it will be picture perfect.

Afterwards you might want to drive down to Gladstone's. They have great seafood and they're located right on the water. Have fun at the locations I've mentioned here but do some exploring on your own. I continue to find fantastic places along Malibu's shoreline.

Matador State Beach
32215 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265

Leo Carrillo State Beach
35000 W. Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265

17300 Pacific Coast Hwy
(Where Sunset Blvd crosses)
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

Shorebird, El Matador State Beach
© Copyright Craig Wolf 2006

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