Photographing the Southern Big Sur Coast (He Saw…She Saw)

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The large paved turnout at mile marker 37 (Mary’s photo based on an infrared original)

Mary and I spent Christmas week in Big Sur in 2012 and 2013.  In 2012, it rained heavily and CA Highway 1 washed out near McWay Falls and we were not able to drive south out of Big Sur.  In 2013, we had drought conditions and 70+ degree days.  We finally got to drive south, twice.  Here are some of the best views of the southern Big Sur coastline.

Mary at the large turnout at mile marker 37

Mary at the large turnout at mile marker 37

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Peter’s color photo

The turnout at Mile Marker 37 is one of the iconic shots of the southern coast.  Not only is the view a “long one”, but it also has the arch in the foreground, as well as a number of trees.  You can use a short telephoto lens here to create many different compositions.

View from mile marker 30 by Mary

View from mile marker 30 by Mary

The turn out at mile marker 30 is known as the “Coastal Range View”.  You can shoot both north and south.  Again, we used our 70-200 mm telephoto lenses and infrared cameras, here.

Peter's wider composition from mile marker 30

Peter’s wider composition from mile marker 30

As you drive south, the next great subject is the Big Creek bridge.  We were there mid-morning, so parking south of the bridge allowed us to have the sun over our shoulders and photograph facing north.  There is also a great view from Gamboa Point a little further south..

Big Creek Bridge by Peter

Big Creek Bridge by Peter

Big Creek Bridge detail by Mary

Big Creek Bridge detail by Mary

Big Creek Bridge from Gamboa Point

Big Creek Bridge from Gamboa Point

Big Creek Bridge Gamboa  Point and Gamboa Beach by Peter

Big Creek Bridge and Gamboa Beach

There is a ton of paupas grass all along the highway as you drive south.  We stopped a few times to make some of these types of photos.

Paupas Grass by Mary at mile marker 20

Paupas Grass by Mary at mile marker 20

Our final stop on our drive south is the famous lookout from Nacimiento Road.  There are actually two turnouts, one that is just up the mountain on Nacimiento Road and one that is on CA Highway 1 just south of Nacimiento Road.  They are both good compositions looking south.

Mary's photo from the high lookout

Mary’s photo from the high lookout

Peter's photo from the low turnout

Peter’s photo from the low turnout

The California coast line north and south of Big Sur is some of the most beautiful landscape in the world.  If you have never had a chance to drive this spectacular road, do it.  There is a new and surprising view every few miles.

We used the following guides.  Photographing Big Sur by Douglas Steakley and The Photographer’s Guide to the Big Sur Coast by Don Smith.

See our other blogs on Big Sur including the north coast, McWay Falls, the Pfeiffer Beach Arch, and other locations.

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

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