Saturday, November 6th, I decided to spend a few hours with my son at the Headlands. We left the car at the Battery Alexander parking lot and walked down to the Rodeo Beach and up again all the way to Tenessee point, from where we started heading back. Although the vistas on this stretch of the coast are well known to me, and despite the fact that I had photographed there many times before, the conditions this time were prime for wide-angle landscape, something I seldom do. If you have been following me for a while, you may have noticed that I tend to close in the landscape and concentrate on details. Not this time.
I took the leading photograph not far from the parking lot. I am often fascinated by sea stacks and those three ones at the Marin Headlands are especially intriguing to me.
Hypothetically, sea stacks are the result of the wind patterns of the North Pacific Ocean, which generate violent waves that erode the coastal cliffs, creating pockets in the rocks. These pockets become caves, and the caves become tunnels. When the arching roof of a tunnel collapses, it leaves behind the sea stacks.
There are about 20,000 sea stacks and small islands off the coast of Northern California. Together, they compose the California Coastal National Monument – a 12-mile long coastal, nautical strip that has been protected since year 2000 by a presidential decree.
I have been to the Marin Headlands a number of times. A few of my previous posts show ocean photos from that location and more examples are also available in my Ocean portfolio. I like to go there for a few reasons: it is relatively close to my house (60 miles), it is safe (unlike the neighboring city of San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge), it offers beautiful vistas that are constantly changing due to the marine layer and passing clouds, and finally, the place has a few strategically placed sea stacks that are intriguing and very useful for composition.
Location: Coastal trail at the Marin Headlands, Sausalito, California, USA;
Equipment: Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm F2.8, Lee Filters (Polarizer, 6 stops); tripod;
Settings: 24 mm f/22, 13”, ISO 50;
Tips: Get there early. The Marin Headlands is a very popular place, and it gets really full of people. Take different grades of neutral density filters to the photoshoot: the light in this location changes fast, from overcast and dark to bright and sunny. When doing long exposure of the ocean, don’t be scanty, take many pictures with the same settings and vary the camera’s settings also. It is better to sort things out at home than to miss that especial moment when the waves do just the right thing.
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