Share this photo on Twitter Share this photo on Facebook

Sun and Moonset Over Monterey Bay

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 23 August 2010 in Landscape & Rural.


Arches/Canyonlands Photo Workshop - November 3-7, 2010 (Workshop Sold Out)
Winter Big Sur Photo Workshop - Magic Light and The Pfeiffer Beach Arch - January 11-14, 2011 (space available)
Northern Arizona Photo Workshop - Grand Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Sedona - March 16-20, 2011 (space available)
Spring Big Sur Workshop - 4th Annual Wildflowers and Color - April 17-20, 2011 (space available)
Springtime in Lake Tahoe and the Mokelumne Wilderness Photo Workshop - May 14-17, 2011 (space available)
Northern California - 3rd Annual Redwoods and Mendocino Photo Workshop - May 23-26, 2011 (just added)
New Article on my Website: Three Ideas for Improving Your Compositions

Join me as I am now of Facebook: Don Smith Photography on Facebook

Join me as I am now on Flickr: Don Smith Photography on Flickr

My preferred filters: Singh-Ray Filters

Books Available for Purchase on my Website:
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)

A 5.3% waxing crescent moon seemingly loses the race with the sun as both set over a thick fog bank covering California's Monterey Bay. My original intent with this image was to capture a 5-frame pano, which by the way I did, but the finished image was a crop of the pano to give a bit more prominence (and a stronger visual placement) for the moon.

This sea of fog has been a constant companion for those of us who live along the central coast of California. Some have been bemoaning the fact that our true summer never really arrived, while others are enjoying the respite from the heat (I tend to reside with the latter half). Regardless, the fog makes for interesting photography as my workshop students discovered in my recently completed Big Sur Summer Workshop. We photographed under the fog, along its edges, and even above it at this location in Fremont Peak State Park which rises 3100 feet above sea level.

I captured this particular image a week prior to the start of the workshop while awaiting the cover of darkness for the Perseid Meteor Showers. Fortunately the thin crescent was visible enough to be juxtaposed with the setting sun as it seemingly melts into the fog. I used my Canon 24 mm Tilt/Shift lens (which helped me to create the pano). After I stitched five frames in Photoshop CS5, I began to play with the crop tool as discussed in my previous post. I simply place the crescent moon in the upper left quadrant (a stronger visual placement), which in turn created a diagonal link (implied line) to the setting sun that created some visual movement for the eye.

Lastly, I allowed the camera's limited vision to turn the foreground peak into a non-distracting silhouetted form that served as a base for the frame. The juxtaposition of the warm transition line of the horizon to both the cool blue of the sky and the cool blue fog allowed for some visual tension. Hopefully, the overall simplicity of this image is the key for its success.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 1/10 second F/16.0 ISO 200 24 mm

My Website: "how to" articles, 2018 WORKSHOP LISTINGS, galleries, stock photos, and more...

Barbara from Oakland, United States

It is beautiful, Don. You have made the most of everything on offer here. Simply lovely.

23 Aug 2010 6:10am

@Barbara: Good morning Barbara. Thanks for your nice words. I hope you have been having a fantastic summer - maybe today the weather will actually feel like summer - no fog this morning!

KriKridesign from Cully, Switzerland

And tomorrow is just another day...Peace....

23 Aug 2010 11:01am

@KriKridesign: I hope you also have a peaceful day Kristen!

Denny Jump Photo from Easton, PA, United States

Hi Don - Welcome Back, so to speak. And, as always, thank you for this great and detailed information that you always provide. It means a lot, let me tell you. I like the inclusion of the peak not only because it is necessary, but I just love the shape of it which seems perfect for the background fog, light, and colors. I know foreground elements are normally "essential" to complete a scene, but often times, I still have trouble selecting one when I am in certain spots. So I move and hunt around but that is not always possible (such as your situation a few weeks ago with the lupine bush on Fremeont Peak) but I guess that is just something I will have to keep working on. Thank you for the great detail about the stitching, tilt shift methods as well. I am off to SFO in a few days to see that new granddaughter for a week or so but I will still be tapping in. Thanks again Don. You guys are the tops.

23 Aug 2010 12:44pm

@Denny Jump Photo: What a nice way to begin the week Denny -I always look forward to reading your thoughts. I included the peak to provide a sense of depth and scale for this image. One thing I made sure to do was to not allow the silhouetted line of the peak to merge with the horizon line of the fog and sky. This in turn allows for separation. If I would have allowed that line to merge it would have not revealed the depth as this is a 2-dimensional rendering of a 3-dimensional scene - hope that makes sense - it's early. Enjoy your new granddaughter gramps!

Tamara from Aarschot, Belgium

So beautiful again Don... it looks like if the sun touches the ocean ! Brilliant colors also.
Have a nice day :)

23 Aug 2010 1:04pm

@Tamara: I like to think of the sun "melting" into the ocean - I really love viewing this scene and the crescent moon was a bonus! Hope you are having a fantastic Monday Tamara :)

Chris Anderson from New york, United States

Excellent photo, love it.

Great colors, they fade in nicely.

23 Aug 2010 4:51pm

@Chris Anderson: Thanks Chris for joining in on my blog. It was a simple color palette but the warm and cold tones complement. Hope you are having a good day!

Marie LC from France

I like very much the side deprived of this sunset and its magnificent colors

23 Aug 2010 4:52pm

@Marie LC: We have had this view for most of the summer Marie but now our first heat wave of the year has arrived and the fog has vanished! I hope you are doing well.

Sandy Weston from Madison, Maine, United States

I agree with Denny....I feel we are lucky to have Don with his expertise tell us his story behind each photo. Amazing work Don! You have helped me figure out many ways to set up, shoot, tweak, and love my shots! This shot is captured so perfectly for us to feel inspired! ;)

23 Aug 2010 6:30pm

@Sandy Weston: I am glad that my writings have helped Sandy, that is part of the goal of this blog. As I have said many times, this is my way of thanking all of my mentors over the years. I hope you pass on your knowledge to someone who is trying to learn. After 31 years in business I am still learning, and hopefully will never stop!

Sergei Z from Türi, Estonia

Everything is just perfect! Excellent!

23 Aug 2010 7:14pm

@Sergei Z: Much thanks Sergei. I hope your day is going well.

Sunder from Chennai, India

Everything is fabulous in this shot..The lighting, composition,colours and processing...
5 Stars, indeed.

23 Aug 2010 7:18pm

@Sunder: Simplify, simplify, simplify. And when you are not certain you have the composition correct - simplify again! This is obvious tongue-in-cheek but actually a very effective way to think about our compositions, and much harder than one thinks!

salva from burgos, Spain

Excellent composition! Fantastic landscape.

23 Aug 2010 7:43pm

@salva: Thanks for joining in Salva.

Judy aka Ladybug from Brooksville, Florida, United States

The shallow diagonal of the peak to the beautiful sunburst and then the long one to the moon, keep the eye moving within the image. It's gorgeous.
I think I told you we were clouded over for the crescent moon earlier this month, but we did see one VERY large meteor streak all across the sky!
Tomorrow's image is for you, Don - a bit silly, but you'll see why!

23 Aug 2010 8:49pm

@Judy aka Ladybug: That is indeed a funny post today Judy. I left you a message on your blog. I can't begin to relate how many times I've gone out with great anticipation only to have Mother Nature intervene. But as the old saying goes, "When life hands you lemons..."

Wild Mustang Photography from Carlisle, United States

This is stunning! beautiful colors and composition!Love the light and processing! Superb!5*****!

23 Aug 2010 10:13pm

@Wild Mustang Photography: Good morning Pam. Thanks for your nice comment. Hope you are staying cool today - I think summer has officially arrived!

DarkElf from Perth, Australia

wonderfully balanced composition indeed! you spaced the sun and the moon well and the fact that they are not level with each other works well here! the sea of fog is just amazing - first up i thought this was an ocean...

24 Aug 2010 2:52am

@DarkElf: It does look like an ocean and indeed the Pacific Ocean is out there (but also towns of Salinas, Monterey, and Santa Cruz). It's amazing how much visual weight a small crescent moon holds. It can balance and entire half of a frame.

Ralph Jones from Detroit, United States


24 Aug 2010 3:09am

@Ralph Jones: Thanks Ralph!

Scott F. Schilling from San Martin, United States

I like that warm glow on the horizon you have captured with the silhouette of theforeground hills. The moon adds a great touch to the overall scene. Your final crop makes a great composition. I have liked the T/S lens for the clean sunburst!

24 Aug 2010 1:09pm

@Scott F. Schilling: I know you have some awesome images from this location also Scott. Can't wait to see them. Hope you are staying cool today - I read that it's supposed to get to 106 degrees in Morgan Hill - yikes - that's hot!!!

Mici from Tg Mures, Romania

Ohh wow, I don't even know what to write, I just feelt I had to say a WOW...beautiful work, love looking at your photographs, you are soo inspiring...Thank you

24 Aug 2010 1:14pm

@Mici: You are very nice to continually write Mici. I hope you are having a good day!

Tracy from La Selva Beach, United States

Oh I do love this place! A beautiful crop, putting the moon in just the right spot....If I had to choose, I love a little crescent moon most of all. So glad you had a great workshop!

24 Aug 2010 2:45pm

@Tracy: Thanks Tracy. The workshop was very enjoyable. An extremely nice group of participants form as far away as Vienna, Austria! That gentleman almost stepped on a rattlesnake (fortunately I gave everyone a head's up prior to departing up the trail to Fremont Peak)! We even had a small earthquake (3.3 magnitude) during dinner at San Juan Bautista. Welcome to California!!!

KriKridesign from Cully, Switzerland

Back from Scott's image...Yes amaizing how different visions are...

24 Aug 2010 7:39pm

@KriKridesign: What a boring world it would be if we all had the same personal vision!

PD from Overland Park, Kansas, United States

Beautiful image Don!

25 Aug 2010 3:58am

@PD: Hi Paul, thanks for checking in. I hope you are doing well. It soared to 109 degrees here yesterday! A far cry from the cool fog last week in Big Sur.

MK from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

great scene, this

25 Aug 2010 5:18am

@MK: Thanks MK.

steve loos from hollister, United States

Don this is a beautiful image. I very much like the pano crop, and the starburst sun (magic how you controlled the sun without over saturating that part of the image!) The light on top of the fog, the dark foreground peak and the moon are icing on the cake. Very nice. Fremont peak is one of my favorite spots in this area

25 Aug 2010 4:14pm

@steve loos: THis was one of those images I saw "finished" in my mind. Check Scott's post for an entirely different view.

Mike from California, United States

I like the "simple" composition along with the strong tones of color you've got in this image.

26 Aug 2010 4:36am

@Mike: Simple is good - thanks Mike!

Vaido from Võrumaa, Estonia

This warm line between two cold blue areas is lovely... Interesting, how this small moon in the upper third can be enough to complete picture there.

26 Aug 2010 11:43am

@Vaido: Thanks for pointing that out Vaido. It's amazing how much "visual weight" a small moon carries. It can indeed balance an entire half of a frame!