Lori Carey Photography

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

When Sunset is a Bust - Photographing Seascapes at Little Corona del Mar

Little Corona Beach under stormy skies

A few weeks ago we organized a photowalk at Little Corona Beach (Robert E. Badham Marine Life Refuge) while Jeff Sullivan and Lori Hibbett were in town working on more images for Jeff's upcoming book on Southern California Landscape photography. Unfortunately here on the southern California coast this time of year we frequently have to deal with a heavy marine layer, thick and very low-lying clouds and fog, known locally as May Gray and June Gloom. It is most common during the morning and evening hours (the midday sun burns off the fog) but when it's really bad we sometimes only see the sun for a brief half hour during the day.

As luck would have it we had very overcast skies the night of the photowalk and there was no chance of seeing one of the gorgeous sunsets we are known for. A few photographers decided to head home because it wasn't 'worth their while' but those of us who remained took out our ND, grad ND and polarizing filters and set out to do some long exposures. Little Corona is known for it's spectacular tide pools and a few rock arch formations within reach of those who are willing to brave a long walk on the slippery rocks during a negative tide. The tide was up this night (low tide, but not low enough) and we couldn't walk out to our favorite spot near the arch but the rocks and tidepools of Little Corona gave many compositional choices.

For a brief moment it looked like the clouds were breaking up and we might have a spectacular sunset after all, but our hopes were soon dashed.

Google+ photographers at Little Corona Beach, Corona del Mar, California
Photographers at Little Corona Beach in Corona del Mar

During blue hour Jeff spun light orbs for everyone to shoot but being a minimalist at heart I couldn't drag myself away from the warm/cool contrast of this scene with the arch lit from a light up on the cliff. By the time I felt I had what I wanted everyone was cold and ready to head up for drinks and food so I missed out on the orbs. Light orbs are all the rage these days on social media so I felt a bit like the nerdy kid not hanging out with the cool kids, but when I saw the results I was very happy that I made the choice to shoot what I did.

Little Corona Beach, Corona del Mar, California

When I see a scene I like I try to always shoot both a vertical and a horizontal composition because you never know how the image might be used. I really liked how the texture of the clouds echoed the texture in the rocks, the way the arch seemed to fit into the gap in the tidepools and the tree perched on top of the point. I'm not sure if I prefer the vertical orientation of the photo at top or the horizontal orientation of this photo. I like them both!

Moody skies over the Robert E Badham Marine Life Refuge tidepools at Little Corona Beach, Corona del Mar, California
Little Corona under Stormy Skies

While I tended to play up the drama and moodiness of the scene, a few took a more dreamy approach with longer exposures of swirling water while others decided to go with black and white images. I always enjoy seeing a scene through other people's eyes and it never fails to amaze how drastically different each of us can interpret a scene. I was hoping to be able to link to the photos from the other participants but since there are on a private G+ photo page only the participants are able to view them.

It was cold and windy but it was a great exercise for those of us who live here and are usually spoiled by our choice of beautiful sunsets. Most of us would normally take a pass and wait for a better night unless we absolutely had to shoot, so the conditions made us all put a lot of thought into what and how we would shoot to make the most of the conditions we had. And it is always great to spend time with old friends and meet new ones!

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