Fluid Dynamics

This is Ocean Beach from Point Lobos in San Francisco. My wife and I were having dinner at the Cliff House restaurant when the colors started changing and, as usual, I had to excuse myself from the table. There’s no getting around the fact that the spouse of a photographer is long-suffering.

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Fluid Dynamics
From a distance, crowds seem to mimic the flow of water

It’s interesting how the people on the beach are evenly distributed. Have you ever notice how crowds of people seem to mimic fluid dynamics? Here they’re evenly dispersed like little water molecules on the sand. You can see this phenomenon when you view crowds from a distance. At a certain level, people follow the laws of physics. We observe the same behavior in traffic patterns which is then used to model highways and ramps.

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In a previous post and similar picture from this beach, I compared the grains of sand to stars in the universe. It seems that whenever I look at this scene I’m reminded of the order of things, and how that order repeats regardless of the scale. Food for thought from someone who can’t sit long enough to eat.

Lands End Lookout

This is from a section of the trail known as Lands End Lookout. As the name implies, it’s on the coast and above the ocean at the entrance to San Francisco Bay. I had a wonderful time here one afternoon and evening and took pictures until long after sunset.

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Lands End Lookout
A section of the trail known as Lands End Lookout

For my money, golden hour is the best time to be here but any time of day is good. From this point, you can look down and see whales going by and large ships coming in and out of the bay. Maybe you can see little red and green dots on the ocean, those are navigation buoys marking the entrance to the bay.

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If I had to pick one of my all-time favorite places to hang out, this would be it. I’m not alone, a lot of people come here for the same reasons; chill and recharge. Something about that west coast breeze washing over you on a warm night.

The Good and the Bad

This is another HDR photo that I created using AuroraHDR 2018. Actually, this was a little tricky to make because it’s a long exposure using an ND filter shooting directly into the sun. The aperture of F14 is what creates the starburst effect. I combined five photos ranging from one to six seconds in length which gives the water a smooth quality.

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The Good and the Bad
On average I like the photo, despite some flaws

Even though I spent hours on this I’m not totally happy with it. That’s because I’m aware of all the technical flaws it has; noise in the shadows, lens flare and lack of detail on the rocks. I’m posting it anyway because I like the overall effect and feel. And also, each time I work with photos I learn a little more. In this case I know what I need to do next time I have a similar scene; each time I get a little better.

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In the end, it’s the scene and the mood that are most important to me. The technical aspects are important also, just not as important. I was able to recreate the idea I had in my head at the time, so it’s a win. I’m posting it because on balance, I do like the image. And to tell you the truth, that’s why I do photography in the first place.

Sutro Baths at Lands End

This is from my last time here at Lands Ending in San Francisco when I must have taken a million photos. I like how the pool reflects the light of the sky against the sea. It’s what remains of the Sutro Baths from about a hundred hears ago and there is a history of it you can look up on Wikipedia. Speaking of which I just made my yearly donation to Wikipedia. I use it a lot and feel a sense of obligation to contribute.

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Sutro Baths at Lands End
Sutro Baths at Lands End in San Francisco

The west coast of California is something I took for granted when I grew up here. That, and I was more of a mountain boy spending time skiing and backpacking in the Sierras. Whenever I’d mention to someone that I was from California they’d assume I surfed, but to this day I’ve never rode a single wave.

Now that I’m into photography it’s renewed an interest in my homeland of California. So when I’m here, usually for other reasons, I take time for photography.

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I had a flight back to the east that night and so I had time to kill and plenty of space on my memory card. So I stayed long after the sunset composing a million images until it was completely dark.

Where the Land Ends

If you drive west in San Francisco you eventually end up where the land ends. Appropriately name Lands End is a required stop when I’m here. On Monday I had a red-eye back flight home and so that afforded me the perfect opportunity to spend a couple of hours here before heading to the airport. I am so glad I did.

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Where the Land Ends
Where the Land Ends – Lands End San Francisco

Staying in the heart of the city its easy to get disconnected from nature and the beauty that surrounds this part of California. I was feeling a little bit of that when I arrived. But as soon as I parked the hum of the city fell away and I was in a different world. Standing along the shore whales could be seen at the mouth of the bay, a common occurrence.

I almost didn’t recognize the scene because last time I was here you could walk out to the rock on the left. The tide had transformed the shore. Also I don’t remember the green covering on all the rocks, perhaps that’s seasonal. In any case, it goes to show that new things appear each time you revisit a location like this, especially when mother nature is involved.

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I took a tonne of photos and when I was done the sun had set and the sky turned dark. The city was completely washed away from my mind. Next stop the airport and the flight home.

The Last Flash

There is a moment, just as the sun disappears behind the sea, that you can get a flash of light across the water. This was taken at that moment. Even though it lasts no more than a second I don’t advise looking at the sun to see it. However since I started shooting with a Sony camera I’ve seen it several times. That’s because I can look though the electronic viewfinder and my eyes are protected from the harmful brilliance of the sun.

The Last Flash
The last flash of the sun as it recedes below the Pacific.                                        Purchase a fine art gallery print for home or office

Even rarer is something known as the “green” flash, at least that’s what I call it. Anyway, under certain circumstances and at the exact second the sun disappears, you may see a greenish-blue flash. I did not see it this day but I have seen it once in Florida. I was watching the sun set over the water and a gentleman came up to me and asked me if I’d ever seen it before. I responded that I’d never even heard of it. He said it was somewhat rare yet he watches for it everyday. A few seconds later it happened and we both looked at each other in amazement.

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Anyway, back in San Francisco where I took this, I was at the bottom of a set of cliffs at Point Lobos State Park. By the time I climbed back up and walked back to the parking lot it was after dark, but it seems a lot of people linger here late. A scene like this is hard to leave, and besides I didn’t want to miss the last flash.

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Sunset at Mile Rock Beach

Sunset at Mile Rock Beach
Sunset at Mile Rock Beach in San Francisco                          Buy a fine art gallery print

I did a ton of these photos during sunset at Mile Rock Beach while in San Francisco. When I find myself in the right spot at the right time I go a little shutter crazy and end up taking dozens of photos. I’m going to reserve judgement and just say that’s a good thing.

The Pacific coast is lined with these big rocks just off shore. I imagine that back in the old days there were shipwrecks during storms and now are historical sights to dive and explore. The two furthest rocks here are Lobos Rock on the left and Blackhead Rock just right of center. They must be well known to mariners.

I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with the past. When I look at photos of a scene my brain looks for context, we all do that. So with a scene like this, or something completely different like the street scene from Barcelona I posted the other day, I take a step back in four dimensions. By that I just mean just naturally tent to view a scene or subject from a context outside the current moment. I’m not sure why I do that, maybe everyone does it and it’s not unusual. I wonder if there is a name for that? Good, bad or indifferent it does open up a whole new world of perspectives, especially in my photography.

So there you go, time travel 101.

Sea Cliff Beach

This is a very hidden beach off the Lands End Trail in San Francisco. By hidden I mean it's not easy to get to, so not many people come here. Having said that, it appeared to me there was a small dedicated group of people that come here for sunset and to get away from civilization for a bit. It's amazing to think that surrounding this is the bustling vibrant city, yet here, exposed to the ocean and surrounded on all side by steep cliffs, you can feel quite remote. I don't even know how I ended up here, just luck I guess.
Sea Cliff Beach at Sunset

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This is a very hidden beach off the Lands End Trail in San Francisco. By hidden I mean it’s not easy to get to, so not many people come here. Having said that, it appeared to me there was a small dedicated group of people that come here for sunset and to get away from civilization for a bit. It’s amazing to think that surrounding this is the bustling vibrant city, yet here, exposed to the ocean and surrounded on all sides by steep cliffs you can feel quite remote. I don’t even know how I ended up here, just luck I guess.