High Water at Sunset Cliffs

For the last week we have had enormously high tides and surf all along the California Coast from mid-state down to San Diego.  The famed Ventura Pier was seriously damaged by the violent water.  So after breakfast today (Sunday) we drove out to OB to see the water along the pier since we had heard it was closed due to waves washing over it.

Wave Detail 01 for blog feature

A high shutter speed (1/3200 second) shows the action of the water as it impacts the rocks. The body of water is broken into millions of drops as it smacks the rock.  Usually photographers slow the shutter to get the sweep of the water’s flow.  That can be very pretty but it completely misses the macro reality of a very violent natural event.

But there was not a parking spot for blocks; I obviously was not the only interested photographer as the shore was lined with photographers and their cameras like the sidelines at the Super Bowl.  But all along Sunset Cliffs the waves were crashing into the rocks at the foot of the bluff and even splashing up onto the higher ledges above and it was less crowded.

Off shore winds whip the foam into streamers as the roiling waves race to the shore.

A strong off-shore wind whips the foam of the onrushing waves into streamers as tons of water rushes in to attack the cliff walls.  It would seem to be a vain exercise by the soft water against the hard rock.  But persistence is the key and over time the relentless pounding is eroding the cliffs and moving ever closer to the mega-buck homes along the shore. 

Here too, lots of spectators were gathered along the cliff edges to see this spectacular surf and dancing water display.

Sunset Cliffs splash 01

A big wave crashes against the cliffs at “Sunset Cliffs” near Ocean Beach, CA and tower over an onlooker perilously close to the edge.  This high ledge is nearly 100 feet above the now inundated beach below.

Here a couple risk a very soggy selfie.

selfy by the cliffs

A couple poses for selfie in front of giant wave while another onlooker brings his bike down for a closer look and quick photo along Sunset Cliffs, CA.  (I blurred the face since I did not have permission for the shot and they left before I could talk to them.)

Next week is finals week and then the long winter break.  YAY!!!  I’ve rarely been so happy to see the end of a semester approaching.



About ndking

Commercial Photographer and Professor of Photography at San Diego City College
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