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Monterey Cypress, Point Lobos State Reserve

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 31 March 2011 in Landscape & Rural.


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Successful landscape images require a myriad of elements to coincide at exactly the right time. I am fortunate to live within a 40-minute drive of one of the most iconic Reserves in California, the Point Lobos State Reserve, which is located along the start of the rugged Big Sur coastline just south of Carmel.

Today's image is one I had been envisioning in my mind's-eye for the past four years. This lone cypress tree sits along a bluff overlooking Headland Cove near the north end of the Reserve. There are no trails leading to the base of this tree, so I scouted areas along the North Shore Trail and felt this particular location worked well for isolating the tree amongst the other cypress trees and Monterey Pines that also grow in this area.

I finally had success on the third of three consecutive trips to the Reserve. Having been in position with my camera and 16-35 mm lens, I was a bit dismayed as the sun set and the color seemed to be dimming for the night. Then I was fortunate enough to get what I call the comeback light that I only see along the coast when there is a clear opening on the horizon and an absence of fog and mist.

As it turned out, this comeback light was spectacular, just the type I had been dreaming of for the past four years! I believe it would have been unsuccessful had I tried an HDR of this image. I simply allowed the limited dynamic range of my camera's sensor to capture the vibrant color and allow the trees and surrounding landscape to fall to silhouette. The bonus was that the light was so vibrant, it reflected it's warm hues off the calm Pacific Ocean.

Patience and perseverance are key ingredients to successful images. I'm sure all of you have that one special place you have been keeping your eye on near where you live. Keep revisiting that site when conditions look favorable and sooner or later (hopefully the former) you will be rewarded.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 1/2 second F/16.0 ISO 100 27 mm

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