Big Sur Session

Location: Big Sur, CA

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If you've read this blog for a while now, you'll already know my love of exploring Big Sur, CA. It's a small coastal pocket of California made accessible by the PCH highway that is literally carved into the cliffs on the West Coast high above the Pacific Ocean. 

The mountains meet the sea in this area, resulting in awe-inspiring 180 degree views of the ocean as well as redwood trees, rivers, creeks and incredible beaches. Here, the weather changes quickly and you'll often see dense fog, rain, and sun, sometimes on the same day.

On this trip, I brought up a pair of water-shoes with me because I wanted to use the reflections of the creek that feeds into Pfeiffer Beach, I was hoping to see some stars out but the cloud coverage was too thick for that!

Here's a link for a dirt-cheap pair of black water shoes if you're interested in this sort of light-painting. At $3.99 you can't really go wrong!

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Here's a piece of sushi I made with my Night-Writer light-pen using the white, red and blue color-tips. This particular photo was illustrated in the Pacific Valley of Big Sur. If you visit this area in the Spring, you might see a hillside full of purple and orange flowers. The trail to the the coast is just opposite of this landmark.

flowers

Now let's get back to the creek at Peiffer Beach where I put those water shoes to work.

I've been on an Animal kick recently because I think it's an important thing to draw attention toward - Animals can't talk selfies and snapchats like we can, so we have to take sweet pictures of them and make sure everyone in the world knows just how awesome and inspiring they are and how we should try to protect them - it's in our best interest as a human race to do so.

Each species could be a 'canary in a coal mine' (advanced warning) when it comes to large scale environmental changes, let's pay special attention and try our best not to disrupt or cause harm to their fragile ecosystems.

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Camera Settings for my Sea Dragon (above): F8, ISO 50, 284 second exposure.

Speaking of the environment, what do you think caused this anomaly? A doorway through solid rock at Pfeiffer Beach:

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After a steep climb at dawn, I gazed on an aerial perspective that may shed some light on how the arch (image above) was formed.

I'm no geologist, but I know that most of the solid rock is actually sandstone, and that water can bore a hole through sandstone if enough time goes by and it has a relatively single point of pressure.

I think this perspective of the beach gives a pretty clear idea of what might have happened. My hypothesis is that the creek bored a hole through the large rock during strong rainfalls. This would have happened over tens of thousands of years:

keyhole creek

Just look at that constant flow here and imagine it going right into the middle of the rock face instead of left into the cove, and yes that sand really is purple:

pieffer flow

Let's end this post with a killer sunset, I hope you've enjoyed it - stay bright!

Check out Big Sur Session II right here.

Atmos Spheres

Location: Malibu, CA / Settings: (Composite) Light beings at F5.6, ISO 100, 143 seconds. Spheres at F5.6, ISO 1600, 4 seconds. Environment at F2.8, ISO 3200, 17 seconds.

Gear used: Canon 6D24-70mm LensManfrotto TripodWireless Remote, and Night-Writer prototype. Eric used a clear plastic tube with flashlights clipped to the end for his spheres.

Not content with only one meet-up, Astro Bandit and I decided to hang out with Eric and Kim for another night before our friends caught a flight back to their home town of Montreal the next morning.

For this image, we took to the cliffs of Malibu at Leo Carrillo State Beach once high tide came in. You can see orange lights on the beach in the distance - there was a film crew capturing underwater footage. 

For this shot, I wanted to add another alien image to my growing collection, I thought Eric's circles would be a great futuristic addition for my colorful characters - how else would they breathe?

Make Way for Mcway

Location: Mcway Falls - Big Sur,CA / Settings: (Composite) Light art at F.5.6, ISO 100, 205 seconds. Environment at F.2, ISO 3200, 15 seconds.

Gear: Canon 6D, Zeiss F2 28mm lens, Manfrotto 190x tripod, Wireless Remote, and Night-Writer kit.

To get this place properly lit at night you really have to do your homework in terms of where the moon will be - it's nestled away in a cove.

I'm not saying it's properly lit here - it's about halfway there (as you can see from the halfway lit waterfall just below the heart - will have to try again under different conditions. Live and learn!

If you'd like to draw your own light-skeletons - check out my video for a guided how-to lesson - just don't add a face for it to appear turned around.

Becoming a big fan of Big Sur, CA yet? Check out another blog post on Big Sur, CA from our last visit in June.

Click the image below for the full gallery of light-skeletons with art-printing options:


Blue Beachside Brontosaurus

Location: Point Dume - Malibu, CA / Settings: (Composite) Light art at F8, ISO 100, 150 seconds. Stars at F2.8, ISO 3200, 15 seconds.

Info on how this shot was created:

Gear: Canon 6D,  24-70mm LensManfrotto TripodRemote Shutter-release with blue tipped Night-Writer.

I've been to this beach many times, but hadn't realized that this was the location they filmed the original Planet of the Apes scene with the post-apocalyptic looking statue of liberty.

It's a cool-looking place in person, and great beach, but difficult to shoot with all that moisture in the air! Bring a lens-wipe for sure, you will use it.

Interested in seeing more 'Light-Fossils'? Check out the Light-Fossils Gallery!

Have a question about how this image was captured? Check out my recently updated EDU page - dedicated to the education of light-art photography.

Marching Bears

Location: Big Sur, CA / Settings: F8, ISO 100, 288 seconds

Info on how this shot was created:

Gear: Canon 6DRokinon 14mm LensManfrotto TripodRemote Shutter-release and gelled Night-Writer

I've been to this spot at Pfeiffer Beach many times, and every time it's different - sometimes it's rocky, sometimes you'll see a creek, sometimes a fallen tree, and in this case - hundreds, perhaps thousands of stacked stones.. As if somebody had been stranded on the beach with magic mushrooms as their only food source. 

On that topic, some of the Grateful Dead art has been an inspiration to me for a long time. I remember the first time I visited Haight Street in San Francisco and dug through a bunch of old Fillmore concert poster prints, I was especially drawn to these colorful bears. I must have been about 12 taking in the most wild, creative and colorful artwork I had seen - work by work, from the very political art to the melted letters and psychedelic vibes, it was all very cool then, and it's just as cool now - Here's to keeping that light on, nice and bright.

Shots of Color

Location: Torrey Pines Beach - San Diego, CA / Settings: F6.3, ISO 100, 204 seconds

shots of color

I'm hoping that the light-pen tool I've been designing for the past few years is going to make light-art a bit more interesting.

For many years I've been using different LEDs for different colors - stopping the illustration to switch tools for every color in the dark - it's really annoying and does a good job at breaking my concentration.

So I've come up with a solution - a light-pen that can change through many colors with a click of your thumb. This (image above) was the first I created using the prototype - which is still very slowly being worked on - meeting by meeting, phase by phase. Not done yet, not even close.

I like to think of it like a rough gem - it looks like any old rock now, but with a little refining and polishing, it could be great! 

Innovation is a trying process, but in my mind's eye, it is a crystal clear vision. 

torrey pines coastline

A foggy coast looking south to La Jolla Shores in San Diego, CA.

United Skeletons

Ice cream

Location: Rincon Point - Ventura, CA / Settings: F5.6, ISO 100, 55 second exposure

I've been on a food kick lately.. But it's ok, these unhealthy foods are all very light on calories ;)

orange flame

Here's the view of the same location on the South side - If you've ever driven on the 101 from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara at night you're sure to see this giant orange flame on the side of the freeway coming from the oil refinery. 

Psychedelic Coast

Location: Big Sur, CA / Settings: F5.6, ISO 100, 215 seconds

This is by far the coolest tent I've ever slept the night in. I felt like I had to do the psychedelic vibe of it justice with a colorful prism style light-painting.  

The Devil's Brick

This image is based on a dream I had where I was walking on a beach and there was a sudden Tsunami, everyone starts running from the crashing waves and as I start running, a girl with a worried look shoves a bag to my chest. I look inside the bag for an instant to see a glowing red brick - hot like coals. I quickly bury the bag in sand and look up to see a charred man with cracks of glowing red on his skin in a suit looking down at me - he says 'I believe you have something of mine'.. I reply ' I believe you are mistaken' and then wake up. 

Distant Lights

Shiny-bone jones under starry skies at glass beach.

The best kind of Space-Invader

Location: Avila Sea Caves - San Luis Obispo, CA / Settings: F4.5, ISO 1600, 133 second exposure

space invader

This place is a short walk from the parking lot and I'm sure there was a lot more to explore if we had more time. 

For this shot, I used a black glove to hold a single G-technology rugged external hard-drive in place for roughly each pixel used in the notorious space-invader icon.

I shot with a fairly open aperture of F4.5 and an ISO set to 1600 because I wanted the ocean to be visible along with some nice and bright hard-drive pixels for my invader. In addition, I hit the entrance of the cave with a bit of pink and blue light to work with the black and blue invader.

Here's the location on a map in case you feel inspired to check it out for yourself:

location avila sea caves

This is the hard-drive I was using for each pixel in the invader, and yes it is on a sea-glass beach (different location than the invader):

G-tech drive glass beach

Two-tone Styracosaurus

Location: Bodega Bay, CA / Settings: (Composite) Light art at F8, ISO 100, 250 second exposure. Stars at F2.8, ISO 3200, 15 seconds.

After illustrating so many different dinosaurs, I'm happy to have found a new way to do the same thing. The two-tone colors and the myriad combinations they present make me stoked on creating a new style of light-fossils.. Upping the ante a bit I hope! 

Initially, I came to this spot in Bodega Bay because of it's unique geographic features and sweet views down the coast:

bodega bay location

You've got the beach on one side, bay on the other and walking distance between both. 

It's good to have options, and I wasn't as impressed with this view of the beach as I was with the back-lit sand and grass in the direction I had just walked in from. The ambient light from a nearby campground's street-lights were casting a yellowish light on the beach, which you can see here:

bodega beach

To sum up my feelings of Bodega Bay - it was a quiet historic town on the water, and a great place for seafood. More to come from this location.

Something to Bragg about

Location: Glass Beach - Fort Bragg, CA / Settings: F2.8, ISO 6400, 15 second exposure

Here's Astrobandit and I at the end of a long road-trip we took up the California Coast to Glass Beach at Fort Bragg, CA. It was cold and windy that night, so we were glad to have our Poler Napsacks - we went straight from our car to the beach wearing these warm and funky numbers.

Rainbow Plesiosaur

Location: Torrey Pines State Beach - San Diego, CA / Settings: F5.6, ISO 200, 292 second exposure.

This is a bit different from my other light-fossil work, this is the first one where I've used the full color spectrum.

The reason behind this is that I've been working on a new light-pen tool with the help of a 3d printing space in LA to make a light-pen that can toggle through colors of the rainbow with the click of your thumb as you draw - without changing writing tools or fidgeting with awkward buttons.

There's a long road ahead toward the goldilocks model of this tool, but it's well on it's way and you can start to see some of it's progress here. Very excited to share more about this project soon.

Cave of Mystery

Location: Leo Carrillo Beach - Malibu, CA / Settings: F3.5, ISO 200, 189 second exposure.

The California coastline is riddled with mysteries waiting for the curious to explore - We found this little cave spot just after sunset and it was a nice relief from the high winds!

I got to put my recently fixed light-pen to work here - I re-wired the old white LED with an led that fades through the color spectrum.. It was a different style than my usual quick light-lines and I was forced to be more strategic with the color fades and shapes here.