Santa Barbara Channel, California, USA by Dan Holmes

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A winter storm makes its way down the Santa Barbara Channel. Rain, wind, and lightning are on the way, but for a few moments the clouds and ocean provided a show of light and color. The weather on the California coast can be completely clear, blanketed in fog, or filled with dramatic storm light. This day I was able to scramble down large boulders to a small beach and spend a few minutes photographing this amazing storm scene. This was during a short break between two storm cells and I needed to work quickly while protecting the camera and lens from a smattering of rain. I used a 4 stop Hoya ND and handheld a 2 stop Breakthrough Graduated Neutral Density filter – these evened out the exposure between sky and beach, while letting me show some nice movement in water and cloud. The storm clouds were thick with enough breaks to let through detail and blue color, and low enough to block most of the warm reds of the sunset.

The storm was moving quickly and within moments after this photograph it started to rain heavily. I stuffed my camera under my jacket and scrambled back up the rocks to my car. Moments like this are why we go out!

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