Big Sur by Moonlight

Day One Hundred and Forty Eight. For my last shoot as a resident of Monterey, it was only fitting to do Big Sur by moonlight. I fell in love with Big Sur the first time I drove down Highway 1 and have become quite familiar with this amazing place over the last two years. I'm going to dearly miss having such beautiful coastline right in my back yard. Photographically speaking, the night started off more challenging than usual. The first image was taken after sunset and when I originally looked at it on the camera, the only thing visible was a thin yellow band of light right at the horizon. I had to coax the rest of the detail out of the shot by gently nudging. The second and third images were taken after the last light of day had gone and before the moon rose. For all intents and purposes, it was pitch black out. To give you an idea of just how little light there was, the second image was taken at 50mm, f/1.4, ISO 1600, for 240 seconds (4 minutes). It was ridiculously dark. Luckily for us, the moon was rising quickly and it was nearly full, so by the fourth image, there was plenty of light to go around. The shots behind Bixby Bridge turned out to be harder than expected because if a car was headed south, the headlights would light up the rock face, but only above the level of the bridge, resulting in garish contrast that simply wouldn't do. After a lot of tries, I finally got a couple of decent shots. When we made it to Pfeiffer Beach, the moonlight was so bright, we actually couldn't see that the Milky Way was going to make a guest appearance in our images, but I'm happy it did. It's certainly not as bright or anywhere near as colorful as it was from Fremont Peak, but it's still a superb background element. The final stop, of course, had to be Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. The cove with McWay Falls is spectacular by daylight and magical by moonlight. I could have sat there all night and just watched the water rush in and out. I love Big Sur and I can't wait to come back!

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