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Sunset Through Fog, McWay Falls, Big Sur

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 14 April 2010 in Landscape & Rural.


Northern Arizona: Grand Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Sedona Photo Workshop - May 3-7, 2010 (Sold Out - Waiting List Only)
Redwoods and Mendocino Coast Photo Workshop - June 15-18, 2010 (space available)
Kauai, Hawaii Photo Workshop - July 12-16, 2010 (space available)
Summer Big Sur Photo Workshop - August, 17-20, 2010 (space available)
Arches/Canyonlands Photo Workshop - November 3-7, 2010 (1 spot left)
Winter Big Sur Photo Workshop - Magic Light and The Pfeiffer Beach Arch - January 11-14, 2011 JUST ADDED (space available)
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My preferred filters: Singh-Ray Filters

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Refined Vision: 50 Lessons Designed to Improve Your Digital Landscape Photography (e-book and printed versions - 160 pages)
The Photographer's Guide to the Big Sur Coast (e-book version - 102 pages)
On the Edge (printed version - softcover and hardcover - 120 pages)

Luck is an often overlooked factor in successful landscape photography. I would hate to stake my career on it, but when light and special atmospheric conditions are there for the taking, I don't question my circumstances, I just shoot!

This image was one of only four frames I captured (within a two-minute time span) on the first night of my spring Big Sur workshop at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. I had been working with my group and making sure their needs were being attended to, when suddenly, a small group I was talking to looked up and saw the sun seemingly try to burn a hole in the fog bank! All talk ceased and shutters began clicking!

I told the group (and anyone within ear shot) to get this moment; fortunately everyone did. This is the magic that cannot be planned - the serendipity of a moment that can only be enjoyed, and at best captured by a prepared photographer. Fortunately I had a 16-35 mmL lens already attached to my camera, and it was simply a matter of placing a Singh-Ray 5-stop, soft-edge, graduated neutral density filter over the lens to hold back the exposure on the sky. How did I know to grab that particular filter? Simple. I just spot-metered to the side of the sun, then metered the light on the turquoise water in McWay Cove, and deduced that 5-stops would work.

If one puts themselves in nature enough times, the scales tend to balance. Sure there are times when I am on location and nothing seems to work - sound familiar? But then there are moments such as these that make you forget your past bad luck. This special light only lasted a few minutes then the sun was once again swallowed-up by the menacing fog. I didn't hear one complaint!

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 1/5 second F/16.0 ISO 200 16 mm

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