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The Rock

By PatrickSmith  
This 50 foot rock on San Carpoforo beach at the south end of Big Sur really takes a beating at high tide. And this is one of my favourite beaches in California because it feels so massive.

The ridge behind the beaches here range from 3,000 feet on the top right of the frame to 5,200 feet just above the big splash to the left of the rock. The one mile drop to the ocean with a 45 degree angle, might be the largest in the world depending on how you define ocean cliffs. There are sheer drops of 3,500 feet in Hawaii and some places in New Zealand, Norway and Alaska have larger mountians a few miles from the ocean.

Regardless, this place makes one feel rather small and insignificant!

The trick to getting this shot besides shooting and running with my back against a cliff, was waiting for the ocean to calm down from a white roiling overexposed mess. The first wave in the a series is the best because the ocean colour and sand texture comes through a lot better.

1/4 second exposure @F20 with ND grads 0.9 + 0.75

Tags: California General Big sur Landscape and travel San simeon

Voters: AlanBW, BurntOut, Paul_Barr and 187 more

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AlanBW 12 20 England
7 Apr 2008 4:02PM
Superb composition, great light and colours - your timing was immaculate

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Paul_Barr 13 544 Scotland
7 Apr 2008 4:09PM
It certainly looks a grand place Patrick.

Your timing was spot on for this one.

chuckspics 11 14 United States
7 Apr 2008 4:11PM
fantastic capture,In large vesion can almost feel the waves hitting the rocks, Chuck
Rylands 10 1 2 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2008 4:11PM
Lovely image, great lighting has brought a superb tonal range
JouŠo 13 56 Finland
7 Apr 2008 4:15PM
could ONLY be yours, Patrick...........

Any car problems yet?? Hope not.....

PLCimagery 11 77 1 England
7 Apr 2008 4:16PM
Richsr 10 91 223 England
7 Apr 2008 4:20PM
Like the details and lighting in this Patrick - first class as always.
Regards Richard.
bayleaf 10 8 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2008 4:21PM
What a super shot

PatrickSmith 13 1.2k 2 United States
7 Apr 2008 4:23PM
Thanks for looking!

The car is behaving itself Jouko. Good thing too, as this beach is an hour away from nowhere!

elkiebrooks 14 83 5 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2008 4:27PM
A well composed and expertly timed photograph.
shortski 11 3 1 England
7 Apr 2008 4:29PM
Mike Gray 13 382 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2008 4:30PM
Who put that rock there. lol

PatrickSmith 13 1.2k 2 United States
7 Apr 2008 4:35PM
Thanks Colin and jojo!

lol.... Okay fine Mike, I kicked it out there to get a little extra foreground interest and it made the splash as it came to rest on it's flat side in the water!

Pegon 12 78 1 England
7 Apr 2008 4:38PM
A superb shot Patrick, well timed and lovely light.
7 Apr 2008 4:41PM
Great shot, lovely blur to the wave. Has an elemental feel-I love it
Bodiewil 10 46 Wales
7 Apr 2008 4:46PM
Supreme exposure and composition Patrick

User_Removed 10 2.2k 3 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2008 4:47PM
Whoosh ! Love it.
Chant57 Plus
12 395 3 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2008 4:47PM
fabulous light and superb timing Patrick
TrevorPlumbe 11 60 England
7 Apr 2008 4:48PM
Superb capture
Really enjoyed my trip around the Big Sur a few years ago Smile
7 Apr 2008 5:01PM
beautifully composed , really love the light through the spray.. stunning.. !

Nikki !
PatrickSmith 13 1.2k 2 United States
7 Apr 2008 5:04PM
Thanks for your comments!

I enjoy it every time Trevor!

I liked that too Nikki. I watched it happen several times before deciding to capture it.

ChazB 12 64 3 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2008 5:06PM
Hi Patrick, love the detail and colour in the fg pebbles and the exposure to capture the wave crashing against the rock. Yet another superb cornifornia shot!
49er 11 564
7 Apr 2008 5:12PM
Wonderful timing (we will make a wildlifer of you)
of the wave.. Shows the power of the sea. The pebbles in the FG add some calm to the image..


Artois 11 405 1 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2008 5:14PM
Great emotive shot. Good composition, colour and excellent capture.
bobalot 11 10 England
7 Apr 2008 5:19PM
great shot very happy to make it 30 .

Rgds Bob
PatrickSmith 13 1.2k 2 United States
7 Apr 2008 5:27PM
Thanks for stopping by.

Hey Charlotte, it's great to hear from you. And there is a bit of Cornwall in here I think!

LOL Edgar, well this beach is near two colonies of Elephant Seals with 15 foot long males making lots of noise. I suppose I could work them into a landscape and become a wildlifer! I'll use my 17-40 for wildlife!

ChazB 12 64 3 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2008 5:30PM
Haha yes, my Mum just literally arrived home, saw it and said 'that's definitely a Cornifornia shot'! It still surprises me how similar the two coastlines look sometimes! Thanks for the click and comment on mine, just left a reply over there for you.
SKavanagh 10 312 5 England
7 Apr 2008 5:34PM
Excellent shot love the wave great piece of info too
Nigel_95 Plus
12 262 2 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2008 5:41PM
Excellent timing Patrick. Thanks for the info on the size of the rock and heights of the slopes behind. I wouldn't have guessed they were so high.

PatrickSmith 13 1.2k 2 United States
7 Apr 2008 5:52PM
It is amazing Charlotte. I have 'flown' over your area in Google Earth and it does look quite similar. Someday I hope to see it myself.

Thanks Steve.

True Nigel, it is tough to tell except for the very small seagulls on the top of the rock in the big version!

Wooly 12 112 4 England
7 Apr 2008 5:57PM
Excellent timing and clarity Patrick.

jeanie Plus
14 6.0k 6 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2008 6:00PM
I do hope you are getting some work done now that you got the priority sorted first Wink
PatrickSmith 13 1.2k 2 United States
7 Apr 2008 6:02PM
Thanks Alan!

LOL - Some what Jeanie???

pmorgan 11 217 13 England
7 Apr 2008 6:03PM
Well composed, and timed, and exposed and caught!

Buffalo_Tom 11 2.3k 9 Wales
7 Apr 2008 6:12PM
Beautifully composed and exposed Patrick.Lovely.
HUMIE 11 2 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2008 6:13PM
LARGE is absolutely wonderful !!!

edwood 10 3 Scotland
7 Apr 2008 6:17PM
wonderful shot.
jeanie Plus
14 6.0k 6 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2008 6:28PM
User_Removed 10 172 1 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2008 6:49PM
Wow, great comp and timing

evelen 13 5 England
7 Apr 2008 6:50PM
excellent capture.
MalcolmS Plus
12 1.2k 13 England
7 Apr 2008 6:51PM
Great timing Patrick, like the light on the f/g pebbles

martinl 14 269 2 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2008 7:04PM
Lovely light and your timing was as impeccable as we've come to expect with the wave Patrick.

AlleyCatz 11 274 6 England
7 Apr 2008 7:08PM
Great timing and great comp

MikeA 13 1.3k England
7 Apr 2008 7:15PM
Super light Patrick and the timing shows off the impact the wave makes on the rock, guess can be quite noisy as well.

dawnmichelle 10 12 United States
7 Apr 2008 7:22PM
I know I say this everytime .. so here it goes again.. Stunning!!! love the timing on the shot ...
PatrickSmith 13 1.2k 2 United States
7 Apr 2008 7:22PM
Thanks for having a look around!

True Mike, it gets really noisy here. And the cliff behind me reflects the sound right into my ear!

GalleryGirl 10 4 2 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2008 7:23PM
What a great shot! Super light and great scene.
Marilyn x
MarkT 13 119 2 England
7 Apr 2008 7:49PM
Great capture Patrick - I wish it was the W. coast of US I was going to in a couple of weeks not Florida.

PatrickSmith 13 1.2k 2 United States
7 Apr 2008 7:55PM
Thanks Dawn Michelle and Marilyn!

It's a shame mark, but there are some nice places there. There are some awesome swamps and beaches with great water colour and features. No hills though!

7 Apr 2008 8:02PM
Super timming Patrick and some wonderful light on the beach, rocks and distant hills you captured. Great work.
wamp 11 276 8 England
7 Apr 2008 8:05PM
The light is beautiful Patrick and lifts the colours so well, a single boulder at 50 feet - I bet it does takes a beating Smile

MarkT 13 119 2 England
7 Apr 2008 8:06PM
Just shows you what photography does to you Patrick - I want some cloud on my holiday as well - lol.

martin.w 15 504 22 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2008 8:34PM
Lovely crisp foreground detail contrasts well with the hazy background...and of course good timing with the wave.
rangerpaul 10 19 7 England
7 Apr 2008 8:42PM
The dynamics around the rock combined with the beauty around it make this an outstanding image!
jaktis 14 84 Sweden
7 Apr 2008 8:44PM
Power power and power

Glostopcat 11 255 2 England
7 Apr 2008 9:51PM
An outstanding beachscape Patrick, you've timed this shot to perfection. The light, colours and composition are all exceptional, a real class act yet again
Paree 13 616 3
7 Apr 2008 10:47PM
wonderful photography
I can only marvel at your work Patrick

Well timed to capture the power of the sea and the magnificent light. JNC
PatrickSmith 13 1.2k 2 United States
7 Apr 2008 10:55PM
Thanks for looking!

I guess it was difficult to time this because most of the time the wave would impact while the previous wave was all the way up the beach. It took about 10 minutes of trying to get some decent timing on this one.

True Mark, hoping for clouds on a holiday can create a bit of a conflict of interest when better weather is wanted!

Atlas 14 621 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2008 11:05PM
You never fail to impress us all Patrick. Not seen anything quite like this before ☼☼☼☼☼

franken Plus
15 4.5k 4 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2008 11:08PM
Excellent image and timing on the wave.

thorn 13 124 2 Scotland
7 Apr 2008 11:13PM
Hi Patrick,
That wave really looks for all the world as though it is determined to shift that rock and it will one day with a determination like that.Fantastic timing,motion,detail,textures,saturation,lighting,shading,sky,the dynamics,perspective and shapes on this one are inimitablely yours.Breathetaking!take care and stay safe,AnnSmile
7 Apr 2008 11:16PM
Timing and image are perfect

GillyB Plus
12 317 8 United Kingdom
7 Apr 2008 11:35PM
I see my Daughter beat me to it yet again Smile

Love the contrast in textures and also between the wild waves and calm fg. Good use of the diagonal too.

I don't think you need our Caliwall clouds as you look to have some good ones over there in Cornifornia!

gill Smile
Carabosse 14 41.0k 269 England
8 Apr 2008 2:29AM
Another stunner, Patrick! Great colours and detail. Smile
fotodayz 9 179 1 United Kingdom
8 Apr 2008 4:07AM
PatrickSmith 13 1.2k 2 United States
8 Apr 2008 4:07AM
Thanks for having a look!

I rarely do either Rob, it is a 2 hour drive from nowhere!

I think you are right Ann, the waves will win eventually!

LOL Gill, she's a fast one! But I must admit that my photography is deceptive because we only get decent clouds a few times per month in the winter and rarely in the summer. I squeeze out what I can! So I will take all the Caliwall clouds that I can get my lens on....

Thanks CB.

andytvcams 15 10.4k 1 United Kingdom
8 Apr 2008 7:12AM
100 Wink

chris-p Plus
12 66 England
8 Apr 2008 8:43AM
101 ... and counting Smile
johnjrp 14 432 5 Australia
8 Apr 2008 8:49AM
Well timed and taken Patrick. John
Matman 10 37 United Kingdom
8 Apr 2008 11:29AM
What an amazing place that is. Great description Patrick, I always enjoy them.

I love being on the coast because besides their beauty I am always in awe of the Geology! That huge rock just sat there is something I could stare at for ages, wondering!...Smile


banehawi Plus
13 1.8k 3835 Canada
8 Apr 2008 12:20PM
Timing is everything!

BillyGoatGruff 10 191 199 England
8 Apr 2008 1:59PM
Cracking shot, Patrick.
Well braved!
Consulo 13 840 10 Scotland
8 Apr 2008 2:09PM
A real knockout, Patrick, especially when viewed large. Smile

Out if interest, did you have one filter upside down for the foreground, or where they both on the sky?
tepot 13 4.4k United Kingdom
8 Apr 2008 3:13PM
Great advice in the description Pat, something i will take onboard when i get to do a shot like this.

lots of people will probably be impressed with the wave on the rock, but for me it's the gorgeous light on the cliffs, worthy of a place in any gallery!
PatrickSmith 13 1.2k 2 United States
8 Apr 2008 5:55PM
Thanks for stopping by! I hope to catch up on your new uploads in the next couple of days once I finish this work thing....

Yes, Matt, I love the geology too. There is a vast timespan involved in the making of this place, and so many others. I enjoy watching the waves making more history right in front of my eyes.

Michael, in this case one grad covers the sky and one covers the sky and down tot eh bottom left corner where the wet sand is. I had a 30 degree angle on the grads.

I waited for the light to hit the cliffs Terry for about a half hour. Before and after I did this, the mountains were dark. I only got a few different ones with this light. Then it was gone!

mattw 14 5.2k 10 United Kingdom
8 Apr 2008 7:51PM
Beautiful light Patrick. The timing is obviously spot on, but the sense of scale is fascinating
Matman 10 37 United Kingdom
8 Apr 2008 10:19PM
Exactly that Patrick...Smile

Guernseydan 11 37 United Kingdom
9 Apr 2008 1:40PM
I'll echo your thoughts on the similarities with New Zealand, Patrick. I almost felt like I was stood back on the West Coast!

Stunning light and clarity my friend. It's something I struggled with due to the sea spray on my recent trip.

All the best

Nettles 10 England
9 Apr 2008 2:10PM
Superb 'action' shot. Perfect timing with the waves hitting that rock, excellent as ever.
photophantom 10 108 3 Philippines
9 Apr 2008 3:32PM
Smashing picture. Very skillful. Well done Patrick.
PatrickSmith 13 1.2k 2 United States
9 Apr 2008 3:37PM
Thanks for looking! I'm glad you liked the timing of this one. And that gives me time to run away.

Yes Dan, I have LOTS of problems with sea spray and what seems like the whole ocean trying to get into my camera! It is a pain compared to regular landscapes, but worth it.

MickyMc 10 8 United Kingdom
9 Apr 2008 3:57PM
Such information and a great picture as well really has made my day
StevenPrice 13 30 2 England
9 Apr 2008 4:31PM
superb work as allways Patrick
luxaeternam 10 21 1
9 Apr 2008 6:29PM
Superb light and movement Patrick.
Smile Lucy
Strobe 10 1.3k United States
9 Apr 2008 9:11PM
Love the way you have captured the movement of the wave.
dazzaman 11 631 England
9 Apr 2008 10:19PM
this is awsome patrick. love the light and that crashing wave.

cheesey 11 2 United Kingdom
10 Apr 2008 9:34AM
Stunning image Patrick, looks awesome in the large version. Nice work.
piccy 11 8 Wales
10 Apr 2008 2:00PM
Always a pleasure to view your pics large.
Consulo 13 840 10 Scotland
10 Apr 2008 2:18PM
Belated thanks for the reply, Patrick. Smile
Sezz 13 617 15 England
10 Apr 2008 4:29PM
Hi Patrick - catching up as I've been away. Well it's a long way down here - so many well deserved comments, not sure what else to add?
Your timing is impeccable as usual! I like the splash off the rock and it's reflction on the wet sand but also the light and colours on the ridge behind - excellent work again Smile

Sarah *
lostintime 10 13 5 Germany
10 Apr 2008 4:35PM
Gorgeous light and tones, love how you've captured the waves crashing into the rock.
PatrickSmith 13 1.2k 2 United States
10 Apr 2008 4:52PM
Thanks for stopping by!

No problem Michael!

LOL Sarah, you probably got lost in one of those labyrinthine castles!

dianah 11 24.5k 4 United Kingdom
10 Apr 2008 9:17PM
Hello Patrick..I love the sunlight on the beach, the colours are glorious. Wonderful detail of the sea as excellent seascape.
colin 13 697 5 Scotland
10 Apr 2008 9:42PM
Fabulously timed, yet again, Patrick.
I hope the San Francisco Tourist Board, or whatever its called, are aware of you being such a great ambassador for the stunning scenery of the West Coast. You should be on a retainer of some sort.Wink
PatrickSmith 13 1.2k 2 United States
10 Apr 2008 10:14PM
Thanks Di!

Speaking of tourists Colin, are you coming out this way again? I'll make sure we meet this time!

They don't know about me yet, but they will....

Portknockie 13 48 Scotland
11 Apr 2008 11:05AM
Love the light and colour detail Patrick..glad you didnt get wet...

Superb timing and a great shot..

Hugeknot 13 1.2k 2 Iceland
11 Apr 2008 4:23PM
The colours and details are excellent. great timing!
arpad 10 United Kingdom
11 Apr 2008 6:39PM
perfect timing to take the picture, beautiful landscape,


Valerie1 10 68 Northern Ireland
11 Apr 2008 8:02PM
Wonderful capture! I like the explantion you give with each shot so the rest of us can learn.
PatrickSmith 13 1.2k 2 United States
11 Apr 2008 8:07PM
Thanks for looking!

I wish you were right Don.

I learn from everybody else Valerie so I try to return the favour!

riprap007 13 1.6k 37 England
13 Apr 2008 7:52AM
dramatic capture... Big Sur is one of those places on my wishlist to visit Smile
bricurtis Plus
12 2.2k 49 England
13 Apr 2008 10:55AM
Wonderful light all around in this shot Patrick - the coloured pebbles in the f/ground are very effective.
colin 13 697 5 Scotland
13 Apr 2008 6:18PM

Quote:Speaking of tourists Colin, are you coming out this way again? I'll make sure we meet this time!

Nothing planned, Patrick but would dearly love to spend more time experiencing the west coast. My daughter starts University in September so have to dig deep to fund her for the next 3 years. Maybe after, who knowsWink
pennyspike 14 2.1k 29 United Kingdom
13 Apr 2008 11:26PM
This has a definite glow to it, you have captured the light perfectly.
PatrickSmith 13 1.2k 2 United States
14 Apr 2008 4:29AM
Thanks for stopping by!

Sounds like you're in the poor house for a few years Colin! After you recover, come on out!

Scott_Scot 13 4 4 Scotland
14 Apr 2008 4:32PM
Very dramatic Patrick!

Maiwand 11 3 73 England
14 Apr 2008 6:14PM
A fantastic and atmospheric image Patrick. i love the detail shown in the small pebbles strewn on the beach and the detail on the rather larger pebblr ( Boulder ) in the water. Wonderful.
PatrickSmith 13 1.2k 2 United States
14 Apr 2008 7:35PM
Thanks Scotty!

True Ron, that is quite a large pebble. I'd hate to stub my toe on it!

chrissd 12 304 United Kingdom
15 Apr 2008 6:05AM
glorious image Patrick, superb timing
Dotrob 12 Wales
15 Apr 2008 11:30PM
Super lighting, and great timing.
Rende 11 38 4 Netherlands
16 Apr 2008 6:11PM
Stunning shot with wonderful composition and great juxtaposition of the solid rock and the water crashing into it.
16 Apr 2008 10:00PM
Great shot in did.
17 Apr 2008 4:55PM
Stunning capture.

PatrickSmith 13 1.2k 2 United States
17 Apr 2008 9:05PM
Thanks for stopping by and having a look!

Bluke 13 303 1 United Kingdom
20 Apr 2008 9:32AM
Hi patrick... another superb image i see.... lovely work.
skydivemike 12 47 Northern Ireland
20 Apr 2008 3:00PM
Just perfect Patrick.

PatrickSmith 13 1.2k 2 United States
21 Apr 2008 3:12PM
Thanks Barbara and Mike!

KKmoments 11 12 1 United Kingdom
21 Apr 2008 10:20PM
Beautiful lighting picking up the 'highlights' on the pebbles in the f/g.. .lovely well timed capture on the wave too.... excellent composition... Karen Smile
PatrickSmith 13 1.2k 2 United States
22 Apr 2008 6:05AM
Thanks Karen!

brownsilent 11 7 2 United Kingdom
25 Apr 2008 6:59AM
A cracker, like all your images.
tmann 13 4 2 United States
6 May 2008 2:52PM
Perfect timing and photo!
I guess it's time I use the ND filters again...
Not that I can shoot pics like this!!! Smile
This is definitely one of those WOWSA shots.....You've caught this perfectly, P...Smile

Suz Smile

Hoping the pinky is better by now.....Smile
starliz 13 1.6k 3 England
14 Jun 2008 8:25AM
love the colour and light shining away on the pebbles as for the rock and wave thats something special.
CathyI 13 344 3 United Kingdom
23 Jul 2008 12:05PM
Perfect timing and rendition of the wave as I expect from you! Beautiful shot.
PatrickSmith 13 1.2k 2 United States
31 Jul 2008 5:38PM
Thanks for having a look!


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