I call this image Pacific Dawn. I captured it many years ago on 2 1/4″ ektachrome film at the Pacific Star Winery, 12 miles north of Fort Bragg on Highway 1. The winery is open on a regular basis for tasting, and is a great place for picnicing and of course photography. The geology here is very interesting, and you can check out their web site http://www.pacificstarwinery.com/ for more information. Because the cliffs here are low, and drop off into deep water, you can get very close to the ocean, even when a big swell is running. There is also a pull-out just to the north of the winery where you can walk down to the ocean and get similar vistas.
What is it that makes this image so popular and successful? The composition is interesting–everywhere you look, there are interesting lines and shapes and action and it draws the eye to the center of the image where there is a luminous quality to the breaking waves and water draining off the rocks. This image was captured with a wide angle lens which helps keep everything in focus, and gives one the feeling of being right in the action.
I was lucky that the sky was not too bright (though it is slightly overexposed in the upper left). There was probably only about a 4 stop difference between the sky and the darker areas, so the film could handle it. With today’s digital sensors, this dynamic range would be no problem as some of them can handle up to 14 stops. The beautiful sea green water in the lower right is the only area of strong color, and it contrasts nicely with the light in the upper part of the image.
Sometimes I wonder if I will ever capture a better image than this one. I hope so.