Here's a counterpoint to my previous post, a series of instants folded into a single frame by a long exposure, creating an ethereal effect not available to the eye. Many will recognize this as Big Sur's McWay Fall, a year-round waterfall that plummets from an evergreen forest into the turquoise Pacific. (If you've been here, you know the water in this cove truly is turquoise.) This exquisite scene is worthy of the wealth of images it inspires, but because (justified) access restrictions limit visitors to a fenced walkway overlooking the beach, perspectives here are limited. That's why the world has so many beautiful but similar McWay Fall images.
Because I already captured my own "classic" McWay Fall image that I'll have a hard time topping, I'm always looking to find something new here. Not easy, but so much of the joy in photography is the challenge to find something unique in a popular location.
On my last visit (assisting Don Smith's Big Sur workshop)*, while most everyone else was shooting wide, I took out my 70-200 lens and tried some isolation compositions. In the rapidly warming light I snapped some decent frames, but still found nothing that excited me. I thought it might be fun to blur the water to gauze, so as the sun dropped to the horizon, I pulled out my 8-stop variable neutral density filter (allows me to dial-in zero to eight stops of neutral density), stopped down to f16, and dialed in 50 ISO.
The resulting 20 second exposure may not be the best McWay Fall image out there, but it at least gives me something new. And it was lots of fun to play. I only had time for two frames before the sun disappeared. The next time you're at a popular photo location, start with the "classic" compositions, then challenge yourself to find something unique. What you get may not always work, but I promise it'll be fun, and it will make you a better photographer. And you'll probably surprise yourself with what you find.
* Don Smith and I have a great thing going with our photo workshops: he assists many of mine, I assist all of his (I do a few more workshops than Don does, and he has a photography life beyond the landscape world, so there are a few of mine he has to skip).
* Website: Eloquent Images
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