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Dawn Moonset at Garrapata

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 17 March 2009 in Landscape & Rural.

I often talk of luck being a crucial element of landscape photography, but there is no substitute for careful planning. A couple friends of mine (Scott Schilling and Mike Hall) and I shot two days prior to making this image, and realized that if we showed up the morning following the full moon, that it would be setting two minutes after posted sunrise.

Garrapata State Park is perhaps one of the most photographed stretches of the entire 97-mile Big Sur coast, and for good reason, beautiful terrain and abundant sea stacks. The weather forecast was favorable so we decided to give it a try.

My only miscalculation was where the moon would set; my sense was that it would be further north allowing easy access for lining up these sea stacks - but landscape photography doesn't always work that way - I know all of you have experienced a similar situation.

Thus, off I went over slippery rocks and boulders (against my better judgment) in order to align all the compositional elements. Everything was going fine until I noticed three rather large swells heading my way. I was basically trapped in a cove with a steep cliff directly behind me. The first wave washed up to the soles of my hiking shoes, the second came over my ankles (that was when I decided to bolt), and the third (as seen in this image just beyond the two stacks), probably would have moved my entire body (and camera) off the rock I was standing on! Fortunately I got back to the rocky shore in time and in tact.

Two quick notes: I did not pay those seagulls to sit on the stacks, and yes, that really is the moon setting in the image!

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 6 seconds F/16.0 ISO 200 35 mm

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