As my trip was nearing the end, it was time to explore the California Coast. Especially, with a few stops that I had in my mind, I started my day early and headed for two of the most iconic, recognizable bridges in the world.

CALIFORNIA COAST

Among the points of interest on the California Coast, unless one has never seen the Golden Gate Bridge anywhere before, who wouldn’t be able to recognize the 83-year-old suspension bridge that spans the Golden Gate straight.

However, he/she may not have known that San Francisco and the Bay Area are known for its morning fogs. So, I was not surprised at all when the bridge was literally engulfed by the marine layers while there.

GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE

California Coast. First stop. The Golden Gate Bridge.

It was just a matter of time. There were already many folks with cameras patiently waiting for the fogs to lift when I settled into my spot. Of course, it was rather windy and chilly, and soon the shower followed. Not necessarily the most ideal circumstance to capture one of the most photographed bridges in the world, but then again, it being shrouded in the fog was also one of many iconic moments the bridge shares with the world.

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As soon as the sun rose, the marine layer rolled in and engulfed the bridge. Only foghorns echoed relentlessly.

In order to tell stories in a single shot, a lot needs to be considered, and one of my techniques that I often use is long exposure. It is a technique that definitely adds depth and texture orienting time progression. Of course, it can be very powerful, but also sometimes it can be pointless. So, it is important to know when to use it.

The shot I ended up liking so much was this. The two towers of the bridge eventually emerged from the thick blanket of fog but the rest still remained buried. I love the overcast sky that was slightly tinted with the sunrise in the corner that had taken place less than a half hour ago but eventually lost its way behind the clouds.

PIGEON POINT LIGHT STATION

One of the lighthouses on the California Coast that I wanted to check out was Pigeon Point Light Station. Although it is said that it is still active with the Coast Guard, but it looked quite unattended by the first look. Especially with the rusted fences up all around the lighthouse this 144-year-old light station didn’t look well maintained.

However, it stood tall as it probably did over 140 years ago, and still remains as the tallest lighthouse on the west coast of the US. And it is on the California Coast. I was quite surprised by the volume of the tourists that it attracted while I was there.

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The tallest lighthouse on the west coast of the US, built in 1871, is still active with the Coast Guard but did’t look well maintained. It stood 115 feet tall as usual on the foggy morning of the visit and welcomed the public for splendid photo opportunities.

The sky of the California Coast was overcast for the whole time, and while I was here, I would say that it added more texture than it didn’t. Even when it sprinkled a few rain drops and I was constantly wiping off my lens between the shots, I was secretly wishing that the sun would never come out of the clouds.

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Golden yarrow was commonly seen around the 144-year-old lighthouse.

As driving away from the park, I took a quick glance at the lighthouse and then had to pull over as soon as the vista caught my eye.

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One more look at the lighthouse before leaving it behind… The weathered light station still looked good as it probably did over 140 years ago.

It was not one of those moments when you take time and walk around to find a spot that you like and frame it as long as it takes. It was rather one of those moments when you respond to the spontaneous urge to capture what your eyes see because it just speaks to you out of blue.

No long exposure. It was rather a simple shot that I framed it in seconds and just snapped away. Love this part of the California Coast.

MCWAY WATERFALLS

McWay Falls had been on my must shoot list for quite some time, so I was quite looking forward to the opportunity. However when I got there, the fog was quite thick. At one point, I couldn’t even see the waterfalls with my naked eyes. And the constant showers didn’t help either.

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The dense fog hardly lifted to reveal the famous waterfalls but it was rather refreshing in the company of light sprinkles. Gotta love the marine layers.

So, I wasn’t able to have the shot that I wanted. However, I was comforting myself with a thought of planning another road trip to this part of the California Coast as the fog never lifted.

BIXBY BRIDGE IN BIG SUR

It is also probably one of the most recognizable bridges in the world, and you will see its popularity first hand when you get there. If you have already been there, you know what it is like to park your car near the bridge and then drive over it.

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The marine layer started moving in fast at the famous west coast bridge. It was completely engulfed by the fog in five minutes after this shot. Foggy morning at the west coast.

The marine layer had not fully reached the shore when I got there, so I took some clear shots of the bridge, but within a half hour or so, the bridge was completely immersed in the fog. This is what happens in this part of the California Coast.

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As it’s getting warm, the marine layer rolled in fast. The ocean soon hid itself under the thick blanket of fog.

I really wanted to hike down to the beach, but lack of time and carrying my camera on the heavy duty Manfrotto tripod with a ball head in my hand made me think twice about it. So, I decided to save the hike for the next trip.

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One of the most iconic bridges in the west coast now was getting engulfed by the marine layer, and completely deserted with no cars and people.

I still had a long road ahead. After a few more shots of the bridge, I hit the road.

LOS PADRES NATIONAL FOREST

After it got dark, with still over a hundred miles to drive, I decided to car camp at one of the campgrounds in Los Padres National Forest. It was quite late when I pulled in. And also I knew I literally had only a few hours to close my eyes.

Then, I saw that the night sky lit up with the millions of stars. As tired as I was, I could not just go to bed.

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It was getting late, so I decided to find a campground and spend the night. And the Milky Way rose over the mountainline and the millions of stars flooded across the night sky. It was quite magical.

I probably ended up staying up for an hour and a half shooting the Milky Way as well as star trails. It was a slightly chilly but gorgeous night to remember.

I’ll definitely go back and camp in Los Padres National Forest. It is one of the places, along with Joshua Tree National Park, where I can get to in a couple of hours to shoot the Milky Way.

Have you been to any of the the places where I visited on the California Coast? What is your favorite place when you did? Besides the places I visited, what other favorite places on the California Coast would you like to share or recommend? What impressed you the most and what season of the year when you visited?

Thanks for reading.

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