One of California’s most dramatic coastlines extends south of Monterey Bay, along the edge of Garapata Beach for a hundred miles to the town of Santa Maria on the edge of San Luis Obispo County. Between the rugged Ventana Wilderness and the Pacific Ocean, California’s Central Coast has sandy beaches, rocky headlands, trails to spectacular waterfalls, and the southernmost range of California redwoods. From Monterey to Morro Bay, this newsletter highlights my favorite photo locations with details on the best time of year to visit and where to find the trails, plus photo tips to improve exposures for more dramatic images.
As you drive off the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge, stay to the right and drive into the Overlook Parking Area. The best place for your tripod is located close to the highway. From there, you can line up your camera looking directly south, down the centerline of the bridge. You’ll need at least a 300mm lens. Longer lenses will produce more dramatic compression of this image. With a 600mm lens, the low arched rise of the roadway across the bridge will appear to be almost vertical, with traffic going straight up and down the paved lanes. Wet pavement reflects headlights and red taillights. Moving traffic stirs up a diffusing mist that softens this image and adds an atmospheric effect that makes your sunny-day photos of the Golden Gate Bridge look like snapshots. Mornings are best because the commuters are heading south, into the city. You want to see taillights, not headlights. Arrive here at the peak of commute traffic, early on a winter weekday morning during a heavy rain for the best photograph. Next best is a foggy summer morning when the pavement is wet.
The history of the Florida Keys is rich with tales of savage natives, pirates, shipwreck survivors, isolated settlers, and bridge builders who linked this chain of islands with the mainland. My interest in the Keys is the wonderful migratory seabird photography. Winter months are a great time to photograph south Florida. By driving back roads to remote coves, walking white sand beaches and hiking through dense forests of tropical foliage, you can discover more than the usual attractions along a four-lane highway. Photograph shore birds, endangered crocodiles, sea turtles, and great sunsets.
Located at the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway and divided by the border between Tennessee and North Carolina, this National Park is the most visited park in America. Arrive in the spring for the peak of the wildflower season or in October when autumn foliage paints the mountainsides. There are details on the back roads, remote trails, and hidden corners of this park where few visitors travel. This issue #024 - Great Smoky Mountains National Park Tennessee / North Carolina will help you find the fall color, wildflowers, waterfalls, and where to set up a tripod to capture the classic sunrise scenes of distant fog-filled valleys and overlapping ridges of blue hills receding far into the distant Appalachians.
In the city of San Francisco, local guides offer one-hour and two-hour walking tours of SF neighborhoods including Chinatown, North Beach, and the waterfront. These walking tours of fascinating out-of-the-way places, like Mission Bay, South Park, the Russian Hill stairs, and accessible rooftop viewpoints that few visitors ever discover on their own, are on their website’s list. There is no charge, although tips and donations are accepted. No reservations are required. Show up at the meeting site at the time listed on their website. The guides will be there, rain or shine. You’ll discover neighborhoods with hidden back alleys and places you never knew existed while learning San Francisco’s history. Check out their SF City Guides website for the long list of tour locations.
Notes and images from Bob Hitchman.