Tuesday, October 12, 2010
The Moors Of California
Point Reyes National Seashore is a photographer’s paradise. A local expert on the area shows us the hot spots.
Over the past 10 years, I’ve led workshops through the Point Reyes National Seashore Association, a nonprofit partner to the park offering photo workshops, summer camps and bird-watching seminars. As I take groups of photo enthusiasts into the field, some are discouraged by the weather. But it’s possible to get solid images if you learn to take advantage of what seems to be a disadvantage. If you can’t freeze movement, play with slow shutter speeds for flower abstracts or long exposures of incoming surf. Play and wander, and you may happen upon a newly born fawn hiding in tall grass, a great-horned owl feeding fledglings or an elk appearing out of the pea-soup fog, scenes I documented over the past year.
Bear Valley. Drop by the quaint, yet quite large Bear Valley visitor center to plan your journey through the park. Many hiking trails begin near the barn-like park headquarters situated along the eastern base of Inverness Ridge. Situated a bit inland, Bear Valley is usually sunny and warmer than most spots in the park.
Chimney Rock. Goldfields bloom low to the ground covering sections of this headland overlooking the Pacific. Strong winds blast the exposed rocky peninsula, yet the extreme conditions don’t deter the delicate flowers from blanketing the hillsides in spring. California poppies, coastal lupine, calla lilies and Douglas iris are among the varieties of native and nonnative wildflowers. Sea lions huddle on its sandy beaches as winter storms roll overhead. The historic lifeboat station (a rustic landmark and home to a few of my weekend workshops) sits below the bluffs on the eastern side with commanding views of Drakes Bay, an old rescue station for boats run aground, and the lighthouse Muybridge recorded lies on the western side of Chimney Rock.
Drakes Beach. Named after the English Vice Admiral Sir Francis Drake and backed by dramatic white sandstone cliffs and an eight-mile-long crescent beach, Drakes Beach is a great location to photograph. Considered by some to be near Drake’s landing place during his circumnavigation of the world by sea in 1579, the area is popular for elephant seal rookeries and long walks. I enjoy hiking up the western bluff to the Peter Behr Overlook—the panoramic views give you the vantage point to see the curve of Drakes Bay, as well as the moor-like cliffs to the east and west.
Historic Pierce Point Ranch. At the south end of the Tule Elk Reserve, a picturesque 1860s California ranch sits where the road ends in this northern section of Point Reyes. Part of the National Register of Historic Places, the ranch is now an interpretive site, home to barn owls and graphic architectural images. Herds of elk roam the rolling coastal hillsides, providing great wildlife opportunities, and a short downhill trail to McClures Beach offers picturesque rock formations combined with powerful surf—a photographer’s paradise.
You can see more of Sean Arbabi’s photography at www.seanarbabi.com.
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