California's Central Coast: Pfeiffer State Beach


Wow, it's been a little while. Three months, in fact, since my last post. What happened was, I moved from Colorado to California and then I got really lazy about shooting, and editing, and writing. But now I'm back. I started exploring the Central Coast as I've learned it's called and I must say it is quite striking. It isn't the mountains and lakes that I'm used to but the ocean holds its own power and demands a new set of tricks to photograph. There is even a waterfall or two to chase if I'm feeling jumpy. This is definitely a challenge and I'm ready to embrace it and start working immediately.

Anyway, sometime in December when I was finally settled and ready to start branching out and shooting, I discovered a place call Pfeiffer State Beach. It is down in Big Sur and has a rock with an amazing arch carved out over the millenia by the waves. It just so happens too that there is a three or four week window around the winter solstice where the setting sun shines directly through this arch. I read about that, looked at my calendar and was pretty excited to see that I was discovering this just in time to try to take advantage.

Pfeiffer is a pretty small, secluded beach and the parking lot is equally small so if you're going to go for sunset make sure that you get there well in advance to make sure you can get a spot to park. Both of the times that I went, there was a ranger standing at the top of the road turning people back because the lot was full. Fortunately I had planned for this so I kept coming back every 10 minutes until they finally let me in. Just know and be prepared to have to wait for a spot to park.

You may have noticed that I said both of the times I went. This is because the first time the clouds didn't quite cooperate. We almost got the sun shining through the arch we were all waiting for (and by we I mean me and the 20 other photographers there waiting for it).

Pfeiffer State Beach, Keyhole Arch, Big Sur, California

Pfeiffer State Beach, Keyhole Arch, Big Sur, California

Pfeiffer State Beach, Keyhole Arch, Big Sur, California

In the end though, the pieces didn't come together but I wasn't about to let this phase me. I wasn't going to drive an hour and a half just to turn around without trying to take advantage of what I had. You know what they say, "if life gives you a cloudy sunset, shoot black and white."

Pfeiffer State Beach, Keyhole Arch, Big Sur, California

Pfeiffer State Beach, Keyhole Arch, Big Sur, California

Pfeiffer State Beach, Keyhole Arch, Big Sur, California