I had to make a trip up to Santa Barbara close to two weeks ago during the Sunday after Thanksgiving--an awful day to travel, especially back into the LA basin from Santa Barbara. I had just ended my association with Oreana Winery and needed to pull my artwork off the wall and take it home to distribute to other venues for sale.
Having to drive on this notoriously ugly travel day on the roads here in California, I definitely wanted to make my efforts pay off more than just picking up my artwork and going home. So, I decided to drive the PCH-1 out of Oxnard along the ocean towards Malibu and Santa Monica, take some pictures and kill time, and let some of the nasty traffic diffuse....the traffic on the 101 was getting all constipated badly anyway in Ventura and Oxnard so it was a brainless decision for me.
It was raining off an on, and at times was very heavy. So heavy in fact, that I was one of the last vehicles to go through before they closed the PCH-1 down north/west of Malibu due to mudslides. When I went through, there was plenty of rock debis everywhere and a couple pretty muddy water falls flowing out onto the highway gaining in depth (looking like Willie Wonka's chocolate river). But I threw my Xterra into 4WD and had no issues what-so-ever navigating through the mess.
As I approached Malibu, I could see that there was going to be a bit of a break in the weather, and it was getting close to sunset, so El Matador SB pretty much chose me. This is a VERY nice beach to shoot, full of little arches and sea stacks of all type and characters. Normally a pretty easy climb down to the beach below, but the rains had washed out a large portion of the path above the staircase and made things very sticky-muddy. Took me quite a bit of time to get all of the packed mud off my shoes and my feet (I had to take my shoes off because the mud got too caked on them).
Once down on the beach, I did my usual survey of all the elements for about 20 mins and I chose this little alcove to shoot--only issue was that it was high tide, and to get the angle I wanted with the sun setting, I had to stand pretty deep out in the water and take a beating from the waves.. I managed to anchor my Dolica tripod very well into the rock/sand beneath the surface of the water--so well, that it never moved once despite the battering waves. And amazingly, my gear never took a single splattering of salt water (but plenty of salt in the air, of course, that would require quite a chore of camera cleaning later). I, on the other hand, got soaked from the waste down of course.
I chose to shoot an extremely long exposure of 10 minutes so that I could smooth out the violent seas and create the effect I wanted...I think my decision for this composition worked well for the conditions, but I really want to go back soon at sunset and a low tide to shoot this spot.
Camera settings: ISO-100, f/8 at 22mm for 610 seconds (10 mins, 10 Secs) using 3 Lee ND Pro Glass filters to bring down the light 15 stops (.6ND, .9ND, 3.0ND) and one Lee .75ND Grad to balance the bright sky with the darker rocks. Image was captured about 10 mins before sunset at 4:35pm
I hope this message and image finds you well.