Share this photo on Twitter Share this photo on Facebook

Exploding Wave, Garrapata Beach, Big Sur

Posted by
Gary Hart (California, United States) on 8 September 2009 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.

Regular readers know I spend a lot of time thinking about the way the camera's view of the world differs from the human experience of the world. For example, the Big Sur coast delivers multi-sensory input that includes a fine ocean mist, sweater-piercing wind, the smell and taste of salt air, and the relentless roar of the surf. None of this is available to my camera.

Of course with a camera I can record the scene, but merely documenting a location is a hollow substitute for being there. To create something memorable, something that more closely conveys the experience of being there, I start by identifying the elements of a landscape that move me. At Big Sur it's the transitory collision of wave and rock.

To my eye/brain a wave's crescendo is reduced to a memory before the moment fully registers, a single frame in a continuous movie. But my camera's ability to freeze an instant is the advantage I look for. When I arrive, rather than trying to make photos immediately, I put my camera down long enough to get a feel for the interaction of wave and rock (sometimes it's as simple as closing my eyes and following my ears). When I find something that draws me, I move around in search of a composition that emphasizes it.

In this case I watched the waves strike this rock from different angles. I liked the pattern of the foreground rocks and set up my tripod to feature them. I chose a vertical composition because the sky was beautiful, and I thought the rocks and waves would be lost at the bottom of a horizontal frame. Once I had the composition I liked, I stood back (remote release in hand) and waited for a wave to strike perpendicular to the imaginary line between me, the foreground rocks, and the large rock. Watching the swells appear several hundred yards out, I knew when the angle would be right well before the wave arrived. I captured several frames and chose the one I liked best.

* My Facebook page *

Upcoming workshops

Yosemite winter, spring, and fall; New Zealand; Grand Canyon; Death Valley; Eastern Sierra; Maui; Hawaii's Big Island; Columbia River Gorge

Other Links

* Facebook

* WordPress Blog

* Website: Eloquent Images

Thanks for visiting. Even if I don't respond, your comments are always read and appreciated.

Barbara Kile from United States

Yes, I love the foreground rocks and great capture of the wave!

8 Sep 2009 5:01am

Onlymehdi from Wayne, United States


8 Sep 2009 5:11am

Magda from Vancouver, Canada

Wow! Fabulous!!! Strong composition and effect. The capture of the wave is spectacular

8 Sep 2009 5:42am

Anina from Auckland, New Zealand

WOW!!! This is most definitely my favourite for the day! I simply love everything about this, from the wave, the sky, the rocks.... to the texture of the sand... Well done :)

8 Sep 2009 7:40am

Vitor Martins from Lisboa, Portugal

The photo worth all the work and time you "spend" (whem we take photos we never spend time :)) ) checking for the best composition and angle. The composition is beautiful and I like the imaginary line cretaed by the rocks and, of corse, the colors of the sky.

8 Sep 2009 8:08am

Judy from Brooksville, Florida, United States

This, like so many others, is beautiful. The foreground rocks and sand are wonderful, as is the gorgeous sky and then the 'icing', the perfectly timed spray of water as it hit the boulder!

8 Sep 2009 11:33am

MARIANA from Waterloo, Canada

Fabulous shot . Bravo !

8 Sep 2009 2:15pm

Tracy from La Selva Beach, United States

Beautiful Gary! One of my favorite places on earth...No matter how many times we go there, or how many photographers capture images of this place, there will never be two that are just alike. I love the constant change that happens here.

8 Sep 2009 3:28pm

@Tracy: No kidding, Tracy. Every time I go there something's different: the tide, the surf, the sky--it's always something.

Viewfinder from Bradenton, FL, United States

Outstanding camera work, Gary. Didn't go to Garrapata Beach, but was at Pfeiffer Beach and saw similar things. It is an amazing place to visit from afar, as we did in July. Your description of the process of choosing your subject is very helpful and interesting to me. I guess I sort of follow a less meticulous but similar path in choosing mine. Your patience pays off with excellent end products like this one.

8 Sep 2009 3:55pm

@Viewfinder: Yeah, Big Sur is an amazing place, and far different from the beaches you have in Florida. Not much for swimming, but the view is world class.

pernilla from Andonno, Italy

I do sense the smell and taste of salt air and I can hear the roar of the surf looking at this picture. Your have record it all. It's right there.
Love this picture.

8 Sep 2009 8:25pm

@pernilla: Thanks, Pernilla--I can't ask for more than that.

Stephen Phillips from San Francisco, United States

The finest compliment I can give here, Gary - is to say that this is a perfect example of what you describe in your narrative. Beautiful and inspired.

9 Sep 2009 3:42am

Elora from Genoa, Italy

Wow. Awe inspiring. You always capture the feeling in your photos, always!

9 Sep 2009 3:10pm

@Elora: Thanks, Elora--the feeling of a scene is so personal, so it's nice to know when an image conveys that to others.

Lee from Fort Frances Ontario, Canada

Another striking image.

10 Sep 2009 3:04am

Stefan from Thiersee, Austria


11 Sep 2009 11:30am

Didier DE ZAN from somewhere, France

Wonderful shot

15 Sep 2009 5:09am