Location Scout for Field Ttrip Part 2

We got up early the next morning (8/12) and headed down to th Cayucos Beach for some morning light. It was fairly clear and the water was amaingly calm. As we pulled into parking spot there were dolphins playing just a few yards off shore.   Apparently a large school of bait fish were coming in close. The dolphins left but the birds were still going crazy and chaotically dive-bombing the water.

There was no pattern or plan to the action; it was frenetic and frenzied, the feathered equivalent to a shark feeding frenzy.  This was ocean dynamics in action. Lee was absolutely in his element and here are some shots of him working the scene.

Photographer Lee Peterson on the beach at Cayucos in front of Morro Rock

Photographer Lee Peterson on the beach at Cayucos in front of Morro Rock

Lee Peterson at the beach in Cayucos

Lee Peterson (far right) at the beach in Cayucos

A third pelican joined the other two on the rocks and they fell into a sort of “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil” pose.

3 pelicans on rock off the beach at Cayucos, CA

3 pelicans on rock off the beach at Cayucos, CA

On the beach were some interesting detail shots including this backlit pile of kelp…

Kelp on beach at Cayucos

Kelp on beach at Cayucos

There was even a small mermaid laying on the beach left behind by some kid playing in the sand.

Little mermaid left by some child playing on the beach

Little mermaid left by some child playing on the beach

We then drove south the few miles to Morro Bay for breakfast and a walk on the main pier. There were lots of fishing boats of all types tied up, many in a sad state of repairs. But Morro Rock made a great backdrop.

Fishing boat in Morro Bay in front of Morro Rock

Fishing boat in Morro Bay in front of Morro Rock

There was also this lone Egg-Like Jellyfish prowling the waters around the boats.

Egg Jellyfish in Morro Bay

Egg Jellyfish in Morro Bay

Further south along the coast is Los Osos and the Montana De Oro State Park where this beautiful little inlet lies almost hidden away. The inlet is small but nice and here is a fisheye view of it that is sort of a “shadow selfie.”

180 degree fisheye of the inet at Montana de Oro with my own shadow

180 degree fisheye of the inet at Montana de Oro with my own shadow

There is also a cave or tunnel carved out of the rock by eons of relentless wave action. Here is a shot looking out toward the ocean.

View from mouth of Sea Cave at Montana de Oro inlet, near Los osos, CA

View from mouth of Sea Cave at Montana de Oro inlet, near Los osos, CA

But the area was so full of people it was impossible to set up for a shot and not have people walking in front of you; it was like a sign was on my back saying please walk in front of me. Remember this trip is a location scout rather than a true photo trek. So we passed up several very cool places we had been on the last trip here including the Los Osos Oaks and Elfin Forest which would be “must stops” for a field trip. We also checked out some lodging options and then went back into Cayucos for dinner at a local sea food hangout.

It clouded over again as the evening came on and it looked like we were once again going to get skunked in a quest for a Milk Way shot so we went to bed. But Lee came in and woke me up about 1:45 saying the Milk Way was bright and clear. So we threw on some clothes and headed down to the beach. We parked and he grabbed gear and headed off into the dark to find his spot. I was still half asleep and moving a bit slower and was ready to follow suit when I discovered that I could not find the little flashlight that normally lives in my camera case.

I was afraid to stumble off into the blackness since there were rocks and deep loose sand all over, so using my tripod like a cane, I carefully found my way out a little beyond a picnic table to set up and shot from there. Not perfect but I was not going to risk stumbling only to fall and bury my camera in the sand.

Lee captured a beautiful shot of the Milk Way including two meteors from the Perseid Meteor Shower.over one of the harbor rocks and has graciously allowed me to use it here…

© Lee Peterson, used with permission. A beautiful capture of the Milly wayand two of the Perseid meteors

© Lee Peterson, used with permission. A beautiful capture of the Milly wayand two of the Perseid meteors

Mine were less successful. I was not in a good spot and I discovered that the new 5DSr does not handle noise well though I have not tested to see whether its real weakness is from the signal gain of high ISO or from heat from the long exposure. My older 5D MkII would have been a much better choice of camera bodies. However, here are a couple of shots anyway.  The fisheye shot goes fro Morro Bay down the coast on the right to a bright streetlight in the parking lot.

Fisheye shot of Milkyway over Cayucos Beach

Fisheye shot of Milkyway over Cayucos Beach

Milkyway from Cayucos beach

Milkyway from Cayucos beach

There was a wonderful meteor shower going on (the Perseids) but my exposures were too long (30 seconds) to capture them clearly. My gear has all been acquired based on commercial and landscape shooting. For me, fast lenses were counter-productive since I wanted the aperture sweet spots to be in the f8-f11 range which gave me some depth-of-field to work with. But it is clear that deep sky shooting is made much easier and more flexible with a very fast lens to lower ISO and/or shorten the exposure to avoid the noise. Lee’s f1 and f1.2 lenses really were the right equipment, especially if I wanted to keep shooting this sort of thing with the 5DSR. Oh goody… something else to want to buy…

Finally we did all we could and the Milky Way was progressing to the north on the horizon and losing visual interest fast so we thanked it for posing and went back to the house and back to bed. I’ll pick up tomorrow in the next post.

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About ndking

Commercial Photographer and Professor of Photography at San Diego City College
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