Panther beach in Scotts Valley, California has been on my photography list over the last few years due its rocky shoreline and easy accessibility from the San Francisco Bay Area where I live. It’s a short drive from the city of Santa Cruz, a popular seaside town in Northern California. A short rocky trail from the parking lot leads you down to the beach and the rocky shoreline beyond. On a cool, October evening, I visited this location as the sun was setting.
I have always wanted to photograph this tear drop shaped opening in the rock wall for several years but somehow, I had always been drawn to other compositions in this area. However, on this visit, the sky was clear and there were no dramatic compositions to be found.
My initial approach was to blend exposures of the rock face and the sea view beyond to frame the coastal view beyond. However, when reviewing the bracketed images on the back of my camera, the under exposed image immediately “popped” as it intensified the rock face which turned a reddish hue to the golden hour lighting. I decided to use a single exposure to capture the view framed by the rock face.
This was a straightforward exposure to take, and my buddy and I wrapped up our photoshoot quickly and started our climb up the rocky trail to our car as darkness started to set in. Back home this image needed very minimal post processing other than a few minor corrections. All in all, a glorious evening photographing the Northern California coast!
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