La Jolla Reefs and a New Year

My wife and I celebrated the New Year at her parents’ house near Palo Alto, California.  I brought all my photo gear along, and intended to spend some time shooting the majestic oaks that grow in the surrounding foothills.  Unfortunately, I got sidetracked by all the food, drink, and fun, and I never did make it out as planned.  The oaks aren’t going anywhere, and as our outgoing governator might say, I’ll be back.

This has been a wonderfully wet winter in San Diego, and it seems like a new storm will roll in as soon as the skies begin to clear.  No complaints here; we need the water and it makes for good photography.  Today, the visibility was exceptional, and the clouds were just high enough that I figured it would be worth heading out to the coast.  I mulled over my options and decided to visit the La Jolla reefs, a popular tourist spot.  Hopefully, the cold weather would keep the crowds away.

Hospitals Reef

I surfed near this location yesterday, and I knew the tide would be very low at sunset.  When I arrived, I was pleased to see that the reef was very exposed.  The eel grass formed thick, shimmering mats and added an interesting element to the otherwise rocky foreground.  I was hoping for some crepuscular rays (so-called god’s rays) but they didn’t materialize.

Golden Grass

Whenever I head to the coast, I usually have a plan in mind.  Today, I intended to shoot an interesting formation called the potholes.  I’ve made some attempts in the past, but the conditions have never been ideal.  That’s ok, because I often find new and compelling compositions when I’m forced to break from my original game plan.  When I arrived at the potholes this afternoon, I discovered that they were covered in bird droppings.  Plan B.

La Jolla Potholes (2009)

Although I’m very fond of wide scenics, I often find myself focusing on smaller, more intimate compositions when I photograph at the coast.  Indeed, these images have come to be some of my personal favorites.  I rarely seem to get the shots I envision in my head, but I do manage to capture images that I’m pleased with.  I guess that’s all that matters.

Rocks and Waves (2009)

Recently, I began making a conscious effort to “see” in black and white, in hopes of adding to my B&W portfolio.  Almost all of my images are in color, and there is something special about an effective black and white photograph.  The feelings of nostalgia.  The stripped essence.  The simplicity of texture and tone.  If you share an interest in art and photography, you know exactly what I am referring to.  Well, learning to see in black and white is terribly difficult, and it’s a skill that continues to allude me.  It wasn’t until I returned home and began processing my files, that I saw the B&W potential in the image below.

The Ocean

Of course, a colorful sunset is always nice, and even more so when combined with a perfect A-frame wave and the weather phenomenon known as virga (rain that evaporates before hitting the ground).

A Frame

If you’re ever in San Diego, it’s worth investigating this fascinating area.  The posh town of La Jolla is a tourist destination in it’s own right, but there is some natural beauty to be experienced, just minutes away from the hustle and bustle of the city.  Be sure and stop by El Pescador Fish Market if you’re in the area.  That is, if you like a delicious fish sandwich.

Eel Grass

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3 Responses to La Jolla Reefs and a New Year

  1. Scott Lawson says:

    So, did the cold weather actually keep the crowds away? ‘Rocks and Waves’ is one of my favorites of yours. It has definitely passed the test of time.

  2. Anne Rusk says:

    Looks like you had an awesome day out there! I used to live out there prior to picking up a camera…ironic, right? I applaud your B&W efforts; the image is a good one. A friend of mine, Cole Thompson, is an excellent fine art B&W photographer who has shot many times in La Jolla if you want to check him out ( Can’t wait to see more!

  3. Mike Lopez says:

    Wonderful pictures for a wonderful new year.

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