Photographing the Pfeiffer Beach Arch

Here is the iconic composition

Here is the iconic composition

For any of you that follow us at all, the following assertion will not be news to you, but it’s good to remind everyone that things really don’t change (that much).  I love grand landscapes and have been known to show up to a location hours before sunrise or sunset to grab my spot for just one great photo (see our blog on Combat Photography).  Mary is much more creative (and is easily bored) with a single set-up or subject.  You can count on me to get the one “right” shot and you can count on Mary to bring back something incredibly surprising, creative, and interesting.  Pfeiffer beach is right in my wheelhouse and Mary just does it to be nice to me.  Here is what we captured in December:

Mary and I waiting for the sweet light

Mary waiting for the sweet light

Pfeiffer State Beach is in Big Sur, CA and is easy to find, if you know about it.  There is NO SIGN that points out the small single lane winding road down to the beach.  Do your research so you can find the road just south of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.

Make sure you get one with  a wave coming though the arch

Make sure you get one with a wave coming though the arch

Right around the winter solstice, the sun is in the optimum position to create a “long” sun ray through the arch.  Mary and I think the best time to get this ray is around 4 PM with sunset being about 5 PM.

Don't forget to make a landscape and portrait orientation

Don’t forget to make a landscape and portrait orientation

This is a very popular spot, especially during Christmas week, which is when we can visit and when the sun is in the right position.  There are thousands of photos of this arch on Flickr.  It is hard to make a “bad” photo, but there are few truly great ones.  You need to be here for the right light, the right splash, and some drama in the sky.

1312_PSA_Cal Coast_0128_HDR-Edit-2-Edit

This is my number one favorite photo of 2013 – three-shot high dynamic range composite processed in Nik’s HDR Efex Pro

I really do not like to criticize other people, especially other photographers and  those that are out in nature making photos with me.  However, I have to ask, “what are these people doing?”  This is a really really tough photo to make, shooting directly into the sun.  There is a ton of contrast that is hard to deal with.

Here are your fellow photographers

Here are your fellow photographers (Mary is out of the frame on the left)

So, I walked over with my “super-hot-shit” Sony RX 100 Mark II point and shoot and made this snapshot hand-held.

what are they shooting?

After the sun goes down, don’t leave.  Walk north along the beach for only 50 yards and you will see this composition.  Last year, while it was really rainy, a “water stream” flowed from the cliff above, through the two rocks.  This year, it has been so dry that there was no stream, so I re-positioned myself and used a one second shutter speed to make this photo.

WAIT, there's more

WAIT, there’s more.  December 2013

December 2012

December 2012

I know Mary can find Pfeiffer Beach boring, but I am sure we will be back many times in the coming years.  Here is another blog post about this popular arch.

To see more of our photos (and buy them), please go to www.pamphotography.com.

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Photographing the Pfeiffer Beach Arch

  1. Pingback: Photographing the Southern Big Sur Coast (He Saw…She Saw) | pamphotography

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s