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Travel California New Years 2016 

Carmel-by-the-Sea /  17 Mile Drive / Big Sur / McKay Falls / Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo

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Get ready for an experience of a lifetime! Discover the beauty of Big Sur’s rugged coastline, adobe-style architecture, sea mammals and the influence the sea has had on the erosion of California’s dynamic central coastline. For this outing concentration will be centered on the world famous Big Sur State Park area. I have planned each day around the beautiful season, personally choosing areas both on and off the beaten path, and designed our routes with times of day in mind that each destination offers either the widest (or most unique) opportunities of capturing dynamic light situations. We will discuss the best way to combine available light while introducing fill or artificial light into your framework, in an effort to capture the most beautiful imagery possible. Detailed personalized instruction is guaranteed. It is my goal to help you discover some of the most beautiful and tranquil landscapes, beaches, canyons, townships and gardens on the Central California Coast, while diving head first into discussions surrounding your passion for photography. You will enjoy in-field, hands-on technical and composition instruction coupled with classroom interactive sessions & image critiques one week after we return to review our images.


All-Inclusive except meals.

$500 deposit, non-refundable, but can be utilized up to 24 months in cases of cancellations. Meals are not included. Travel to / from the city of Carmel, CA is not included.


Hotels, tours, park admissions, shared transportation, snacks/water, mentoring sunrise to sunset daily. One night sky optional mentoring session.  Included.

Saturday, December 26th meet 3:30 pm-

Pfieffer State Beach Parking Lot



This incredible shoot kicks off a week of incredible oceanside destinations that include getting our feet literally wet in the surf, burying our toes in the sand, and gazing out across sea cliffs thousands of feet above the sea.  This first capture is one of the trickiest of the week but also one of the monumental captures along the Sur.


The complexity of this shoot comes in the fact the earth's winter axis allows the sun to drop right inside the hole in the rock on Pfieffer State Beach. Tricky part is that it happens fast and you must be prepared with how you are going to approach your camera settings and the composition before the sun begins its decent. The face of the rock is in the shade, so I'll be explaining the variables you can put into place to account for the 3 -4 stop difference between the sunlit sky and rock face.  We'll remain on the beach until just at sundown. The beach closes at sunset!!  I am trying to obtain permission to light pain this rock on evening. 

Sunday, December 27th meet 6:00a- downstairs

6:15a Lover's Point-

This is an incredible spot to shoot Central California's sunrises. Techniques on filtration enhancement and polarization will be discussed as we kick off our morning shoot as a group- there are a couple of spots that I know we'll shoot together as I introduce you to spots that have become personal favorites over the years. The boulder infused beach and grass-lined park at Lover's Point is one of my favorite spots in all of California to shoot. Friday morning's shoot will be a more relaxed setting where you will have an opportunity to express your creativity as we blend independent shoot time with short group lessons. With 360 degree views from this park, I will have to drag you back to the there is just never enough time to "get it all!"!!!

9:00a Return for a hot delicious breakfast Included with the stay at Carmel Mission Inn.

10:00a Los Lobos State Park Reserve-

One of my very favorite areas in all of the Sur. This will begin as a daytime shoot, with group lessons on composition, filtration, macro (for those with macro lenses), polarization, image content and long exposures tutorials for those desiring the instruction. I provide with ample "free shoot" time for those not desiring the instruction and a bit of time on the end of this leg for "free shooting" for those who do. 


 We will leave mid-day and grab sandwiches and burgers nearby. Then return to the Lobos Reserve for additional captures as the light continues to change until we gather at the point for our sunset captures- this is a tripod, long exposure shot on the elevated cliffs above the Big Sur coastline w/ filtration. Discussions about approaches for HDR exposure will be infused into the lesson. (Lobos State Park Reserve Point) We'll go for dinner around 7p.

Monday, December 28th, 2015

5:45am start meet downstairs

Ocean Avenue, Wildflower - Ice Plant Sunrise in Monterey


Continuation of filtration work.   Looking back toward Monterey Bay to the West, you can see the famous Fisherman's Wharf, and the fingers of Monterey's coastline jetting out. We'll situate ourselves in a field of ice plant, where neighborhood trails show sign thatthe gorgeous sunrise we are experienced is taken in daily bythe locals and visitors alike. There are beautiful Cypress and Junipere trees aligning this quiet park like road, an occasionbench with the local Spanish flare, and lots of room for us tospread out. (Group Lesson on shooting with motion and useof filtration during sunrise.)

7:00a- Monterey Bay Ocean Beach Park

We'll shoot gorgeous early morning light with wave motion over sea rocks, Monterey Bay in the background, at Lover's Park Landing. Vibrant sky with use of filtration & long exposure. Polarization work. Group Lesson.   Lover's Point Rock Pile- Independent more relaxed shoot environment where I will be on hand with composition, depth of field, macro to wide angle choice, gradient full to partial filtration importance, etc.; but encourage you to walk more freely capturing the beauty of Monterey Bay with first morning's light. Extraordinary opportunities in this location to spread out and be creative.


11:00a- "Quick" Continental Hot Breakfast (included in workshop price each day) 

Carmel Mission Inn does an incredible job with a nice buffet with meats, oatmeals, breads, fruits, etc. Coffee, choice of hot teas also included.   


Mission San Carlos Borromeo De Carmelo- Carmel, California Mission  

This will be one of the many highlights of the weekend.  It is a special place. The beautiful historic mission offers opportunity to photographers around every corner. We'll concentrate on shooting a couple of the breezeways as a group, with concentration on utilizing our on camera flashes, bounce cards, ambient light, multiple exposures and exposing for HDR post processing.

2:00p- Gorgeous 17 Mile Drive in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Including stops at various rocky beach locations where we'll shoot long exposure images and work with "ocean motion, motion in the waves, waves crashing against rocks"...then we'll hit Ghost Tree and famous Cypress Tree stops...two of my favorites.


We'll shoot sunset at Ghost Tree stop where there is room for everyone to spread out, use the techniques we've learned, and capture a shot all their own. At these stops we'll combine "free shoot" and handheld opportunities with tripod work. The tripod work will be specifically taught with HDR post processing in mind and utilize filters and polarization.

4:00p-  17 Mile Drive in Carmel-by-the-Sea Sunset

Including stops at various rocky beach locations where we'll shoot long exposure images and work with "ocean motion, motion in the waves, waves crashing against rocks"...then we'll hit Ghost Tree and famous Cypress Tree stops...two of my favorites.


We'll shoot sunset at the Ghost Tree stop where there is room for everyone to spread out and use the techniques we've learned.  Each photographer  will have an opportunity to capture a shot all their own. At these stops we'll combine tripod and handheld captures. The tripod work will be specifically taught with HDR post processing in mind and utilize filters and polarization.

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

5:45am start meet downstairs

Ocean Avenue, Wildflower - Ice Plant Sunrise in Monterey


Continuation of filtration work.   Looking back toward Monterey Bay to the West, we'll throw an entirely different concept toward Monterey's coastline.  I'll encourage those in the group that can shoot monotone to spend a bit of time concentrating on focusing on high key and low key subject matter. I have found these exercises to help me visualize to predict outcomes in my color work. Predicting the zonal ranges within your frame is key to maintain the highest quality of digital data file you'll have to further massage in your post work. 

Tuesday is a day of surprises. I never quite know what to expect as it is a travel day down the entire Big Sur shoreline.  There are days when we'll rise above the dense marine layer and then sink back down into it. Other days the sun will shine on us all day, and we'll have an opporunity for a few very short walks to the clifflines to capture elevated scenes.  We'll spend quality time at each location never watching the clock.  I cannot pick a favorite day, but many of my past workshop participants say they enjoy the ease and freedom this day allows us.  Every workshop provides us a new blanket of endless possibilities.  The coastline is 90 miles, so if we make it to the end near San Simeon we'll drive nearly 200 miles on this is my truly only unplannned day. With that said, I am a workshop provider that allows the light and weather to dictate our schedule, so that we make optimum opportunities of our time and space.  Below you'll see a number of images captured from the Big Sur Drive day trip.

SUNSET BIXBY BRIDGE:  (above right) As we head back toward Carmel, we'll make our last stop of the day at Bixby Bridge where the sun beautifully hits the bridge as it sets providing an extra bit of warmth.  Depending on the groups energy level....we can stay for just awhile, enjoy snacks and water, and shoot a blue hour capture of the bridge before heading back for dinner. During this capture, a long exposure approach allow us to capture the white and red head & tail lights of the passing cars...its a fun evening shoot but is always breezy and quite chilly through here.  There is a great little restaurant I love stopping at to grab coffee or hot chocolate which take the bite off of the chilly winter eve.

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

6:00 am start meet downstairs

Sunrise on the Bluff


Many of my favorite turnouts are not frequented by a lot of visitors to the Sur who are purely up for the day to drive the coast.  This turnout is notarious for having a multitude of barking seals. I love listening to them while capture nearly 360 degrees of stunning beauty. Just behind me are cliffs, off to my right are huge bolders out in the bay, which depend on high tide or low tide, makes gorgous whirl pools in the surf...and then there is this capture shooting straight up the coast. Depending where you stand on this 1000 plus feet of trail this capture can take on such a unique look that it does not appear as though you shot from the same knoll.  We'll spend most of the morning here as the opportunities are endless.  We'll also capture a group photo in this location.

Sometimes on Wednesday the monks will be a The Carmelite Nuns of Carmel Monestary. It is a peaceful stop planned for late morning; with deep shadows adding intrigue to the rounded and hard lines of this historic spiritual place we'll spread out and utilize the skills we used at the mission a few days earlier.  For those of you who enjoy photographing hummingbirds, they are all around this property. It is very close to the bluff we'll be located at for daybreak, so we'll be able to make the most of the low axis morning light both on the bluffs as well as the monestary.  Like the Carmel Mission we'll have an opporutnity to capture the interior of the dwelling but with substantially less traffic.  Wher they are hundreds of people at any given time at the mission, the monestary is hidden and set off the road. They do not advertise; during my last two visits I was the ONLY person inside the sanctuary.  Just phenominal. 

Today's daytime destination is Pfeiffer Beach..... it is so fun to shoot this beach during the day...AND it is on the way to McCay Falls, which we'll grab at sunset. The beach is covered in unique sandstand that has a cookie cutter appeal.  Very hard to explain it unless you are there.  There are big boulders covered in moss and a small lagoon where the color of the sand causes the ocean water to take on a green hue. It is so much fun to shoot here.  During this stop, we'll spread out and enjoy collaborating in small groups or wondering off for independent captures.  We'll be here for at least 2 -3 hours weather dependent.  

After this shoot, we'll call it an early night and head back to the hotel.  New Years Eve will be a very late night, of light painting and ringing in the New Year with camera in hand!! Those that would like to make reservations or plans in Monterey or Carmel are encouraged to do so.

McCay Falls requires you to walk a short 10 - 15 minutes paved trek down to an overlook where the evening sun shines perfectly in line with these falls.... all of the visits I have made to the falls have been in dense fog, rain or severe marine layer. This continues to be a bucket list item for me as I have never quite "nailed it"!!!  There is a path that I have not ventured to take that will situate photographers to shoot directly over the falls, but I have never actually seen anyone on the floor of this beach.  I do know during high tide much of the beach is covered. I once saw a whale glide into this cove but I didn't get a clean shot of him, just to give you an idea of the depth of the pool.  I am guessing it was a baby grey whale. She was on the small side, but way too big to be a dolphin.  

Thursday, December 31th, 2015

6:00 am start meet downstairs



The last day is always my favorite. I've shared a number of my personal workflow tips and techniques, as well as learned a great deal by collaborate with the group all week.  Weather always keeps us from executing all of the schedule stops and events.   It is the joy and curse of shooting along the Pacific Ocean any time of year.  One Thursday since it is our last day together, we'll use and practice many of the skills we've covered throughout the week challenging one another to execute very different end results for very similar or exact captures. This allows for the realization of how much power we have at our fingertips as visual artists.  We can influence the way our captures make people feel, or how they respond to a person, place or subject we photograph... it is a day I look forward to because it even pushes me to think outside the box. It is also the day we'll revisit the areas we've either missed or that the group would like to take another shot at due to traffic or weather.......below I have provided a few examples for fun we've had on our last day together.....this will be the perfect day to pull out your zoom and macro lenses that capture unique finds along our journey as we move toward the last sunset of the year.

For New Years Eve, we'll light paint well into the evening, choosing Pfieffer State Park Rock, McCay Falls, Bixby Bridge or a combination of two or time and weather allow.  I have spent a good deal of time learning how to shoot dramatic night sky scenes this year, since capturing this shot of Bixby Bridge overnight last year.....  We'll capture the stars, Milky Way if possible.  It is the best way I can think of to ring in an exciting new year....

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