Latitude and longitude: 36.238165, -121.816212
In March 2019, I participated in Don Smith’s Spring Big Sur photo workshop. Most of our travels took us anywhere from five to 40 miles south of Carmel. One of our stops was at Pfeiffer Beach and for those that don’t know, John Pfeiffer grew potatoes in this area at the turn of the century. The land that is now the Julia Pfeiffer Burns-Big Sur State Park was acquired from the Pfeiffer’s by the State of California in 1933. This shot was taken in the Los Padres National Forest Pfeiffer Beach Day Use Area just north of the park.
The beach is primarily known for its iconic “Keyhole Arch” one of the most photographed spots in California. It is also known for its spectacular rock formations, crashing waves, its sunsets and its purple/violet colored sands. Please realize that not all of the beach sand is purple as it is also interlaced with the typical tan colored sands of California beaches.
For those geology enthusiasts out there, the purple color comes from manganese garnet (known as spessartine (Mn3Al2(SiO4)3) that is being eroded, then washed down the creek to the beach. Sometimes the color appears more violet or pinkish than purple.
Anyway, the two shots I’m presenting here exceeded my expectations. When I first saw the sand I was mesmerized by the wonderful streaks of purple and tan sand that the ocean wave action was presenting my eye. Taken at the north end of the beach, very close to Keyhole Arch, the shots taken here were at a two second exposure at ISO 100 with my lens set a f32 and ISO 100. My Nikon D800 camera with a Nikkor 28-300mm lens was mounted on a Manfrotto tripod. Enjoy!