For a couple of years I travelled quite regularly to San Francisco for work, and quite quickly realised I could build in mini road trips at the weekends as it was far, far cheaper to fly home on a Sunday night than a Friday.
On this early trip, I drove as far north from San Francisco as I could reasonably manage after work on the Friday—to Eureka, near the Oregon border—and spent the weekend driving back before catching my flight home on the Sunday evening.
Having spent the morning exploring the lovely little Victorian town of Ferndale and some of the coast, I cut inland for Humboldt Redwoods State Park and the Avenue of the Giants to explore the magnificent redwood trees.
After eking out every last bit of winter light that I could in the forests, I eventually had to give in and start the drive south towards Fort Bragg and the motel I had booked for the evening. It’s somewhere that route that I felt the need to stop and attempt to capture the view of the Pacific Ocean in the dying light.
It had been a long day and I hadn’t really attempted much long-exposure photography previously, so I set up the tripod and made a single 30–second exposure looking back along the coastline I had just driven.
I remember thinking at the time that it wasn’t a great image and I couldn’t bring myself to work on the composition/my technique any further then and there, instead angling the camera up at the stars for a quick attempt at capturing those instead (with not–great results).
Capturing a feeling
Loading my images into Lightroom later on, the photo wasn’t actually so bad and I applied some very basic adjustments to pull the exposure up a little, plus an extra lift to the lower half (the ocean) with a gradient filter.
I kinda liked the image, but the low quality put me off sharing it and there it has sat in my Lightroom library for the past 5 years. A good while back, I did decide it was worthy of sharing at some point and added to my ‘To publish’ collection.
While the photo is noisy and there’s some banding in the glow of the sunset, this image still brings me back to the feeling I had on the evening. It was dark, chilly and the waves were crashing in on the rocks while the clear night sky was lit by stars and the last light of the setting sun. I get all those feelings this photo, and so for me at least, it’s one of those that proves resolution and sharpness aren’t everything.