The iPhone 5s Camera along the Pacific Coast of California

Pigeon Point Lighthouse

I headed for the coast this morning – taking along three cameras: a Fujifilm X100S, a Nikon D600 DSLR, and my trusty iPhone 5s.

The iPhone 5s takes some amazing pictures – here are two quick examples. Up above the beautiful lighthouse at Pigeon Point. And down below the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse in Santa Cruz. Both shot with my iPhone 5s and edited in the iPhone using Snapseed.

Beautiful!

Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse

The Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse – Santa Cruz

Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse - Santa Cruz - 2012

Here’s another iPhone 5 images – this one from late December 2012 in Santa Cruz, California. The iPhone 5 (and now the iPhone 5s) has a great camera – I’ve put together a special set on Flickr with some examples of my iPhone 5 photos – and a new one where I’m collecting iPhone 5s photos.

This is the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse built by Abbott’s parents following his death in 1965 while surfing near the point.

This version was adjusted in Lightroom 5 using VSCO Film presets.

My Holiday 2012 Interlude – Over to the Coast!

This morning I had one of my regular holiday reactions – a sort of cabin fever – and headed out of the house to points unknown for a photography adventure. I packed my cameras in the trunk of the car, grabbed a couple of bottles of water, plugged my iPhone into the car stereo and headed up towards 280.

I thought I’d probably head for San Francisco. For the last few years, I’ve had this thing about shooting the Golden Gate Bridge at this time of year – especially if we’ve got clouds in the sky or a breaking storm moving east. We had both today. But my usual Golden Gate day was January 1st. I was a bit early for that.

As it turned out, as I was heading to 280, I was pulled west – over to the coast. I crossed 280 and headed through Woodside to Hwy 84 and up the hill to Skyline. I continued on down through La Honda, San Gregorio and over to Hwy 1. It was a beautiful drive – cloudy light overhead, a podcast on the radio, and nobody else around.

At Hwy 1, I turned left – heading south along the coast. I made a quick stop at Pomponio State Beach – and chatted a bit with another Nikon shooter about how great it was to just be out above the beach enjoying the late December light. The low sun angle this time of year makes it very special – my favorite time of year for great light. I loved the patterns the waves were making – such as the “S curves” below.

Pomponio State Beach

After Pomponio, I continued south on Hwy 1 – passing up the other state beaches along the way as I headed to Santa Cruz. My rough plan was to make a big loop over to Hwy 1, south to Santa Cruz, then up on Hwy 17/85/280 to get back home.

But, of course, there’s Pigeon Point on the way – one of the most beautiful lighthouses on the Pacific coast. I pulled off and had a great time walking along the cliff above the ocean leading south to the lighthouse itself. Here’s a shot taken with my iPhone 5 and post-processed using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2.

On the Edge - Pigeon Point - 2012

The clouds in the sky and the angle of the light today made for some very special shots – and, on purpose, I was traveling light. No tripod, no serious HDR kind of shooting, just handheld with my Nikon D600 and, when the mood caught me, with my iPhone 5 – such as the shot above. The light and clouds at Pigeon Point were beautiful and I made a number of handheld shots just walking around.

After a great time at Pigeon Point, I headed south – made a detour to try to find the old Bonny Doon Winery tasting room (it’s now in Santa Cruz!) before arriving at Santa Cruz’s Lighthouse Point Park. There’s a surfing museum there in a building that looks like a small lighthouse – but I was captured by the light and skies off the coast.

Rock of Ages - Santa Cruz - 2012

My loop took over to the coast and back took about four hours. It was great therapy for my cabin fever! Special light, lovely clouds in the skies, beautiful venues – it doesn’t get much better than this. I should be so lucky!

The Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse in Santa Cruz

Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse

The Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse in Santa Cruz is a memorial built by Abbott’s family following his death in a surfing accident in 1965. It’s a beautiful lighthouse and sits up high above the Santa Cruz surfing channel. Reading a bit of the history about this lighthouse, it turns out that Esther and Chuck Abbott, Mark’s parents and builders of this memorial, also were photographers.

This image was originally shot in RAW using my Canon 5D Mark II with the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens on March 29, 2009, a beautifully clear bright sunny day. It was post-processed using Photoshop with Nik’s Color Efex 2 and Silver Efex 2. I loved the light angle on the lighthouse – and decided to use a red filter in post-processing to darken the sky and make the lighthouse “pop”. Hope you like it!

A Lazy Sunday in Santa Cruz

Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse - 2011

It’s been a rough few days. I’ve been grinding away on some research and pulling a presentation together and, feeling sorry for myself, I just HAD to get out of the house this morning for some R&R! It looked like a beautiful day at the beach – so I gave Lily a quick walk around Sharon Park and then headed south on 280 to Santa Cruz. My attitude was sort of summed up in today’s Harley-Davidson ad in the New York Times: Screw it! Let’s ride! (All I was lacking was that Harley!)

This photo is of the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse at Lighthouse Point on West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz – taken with my iPhone 3G. The lighthouse is part of the Lighthouse Field State Beach and overlooks the Steamer Lane surfing hotspot. Note that the flag is at half mast – in honor of the four Oakland Policemen?

After shooting some surfer photos, I headed south to the Boardwalk, caught some riders on the Giant Dipper, and then headed down Portola past Twin Lakes to Live Oak Library – thinking I’d finish up some work there overlooking its lagoon. Unfortunately, due to library funding cutbacks, it’s closed on Sunday – was any library funding part of Obama’s stimulus package? So I headed home back through Santa Cruz, then up Route 1 over to Pescadero and back on Hwy 84. By the way, AT&T’s network coverage really is very, very poor along Route 1 – like non-existent!

I drove by Harley Farms Goat Dairy but didn’t stop – lots of cars outside, looked like business was booming! As I drove through Pescadero, two photographers were out on foot walking – reminded me of the trip Chris and I did a couple of months ago.

My Secret Library in Santa Cruz

Live Oak Library - Santa Cruz, California

Yesterday I was wandering around Santa Cruz and need to “kill” a couple of hours.

After dropping some friends off at Twin Lakes State Beach, I was driving down E. Cliff Drive and came across Live Oak Library, a beautifully remodeled Craftsman style building.

Turns out I’m a bit of a library nut. Somehow they’re therapeutic for me – I can be totally blocked on writing while sitting in my office – but things just seem to open up with a change of scenery into the right library environment. No phones, peace and quiet, but a sense of space and wonder. The best libraries open so many new doors for me within the cocoon of their physical space.

Back to Santa Cruz. I was an accidental tourist there yesterday – and stumbled across Live Oak literally while driving by. Where else can you find a library like this sitting on a lagoon across from the Pacific Ocean? Constructed in such a beautiful and careful style. With a very friendly and helpful staff that took great care of me – I passed the time in sheer delight. This is what libraries are for.

I took a few photos of the library (still kicking myself for not having taken the camera inside!) – and of neighbor KSCO AM 1080‘s Art Deco studio and graffiti laden towers out in the lagoon.

Next time you’re in Santa Cruz and need a place to chill, check out the Live Oak Library – it’s a real treat! But don’t tell too many folks about it!

PS: Santa Cruz is also now very high on my list for one of my next photowalking episodes. The streets and bluffs along the ocean between Twin Lakes and Pleasure Point as really interesting and worth some deeper photographic explorations. Much of my earlier interest in Santa Cruz was around the Boardwalk – but there’s a whole lot more to explore.

More Coastal Exploring… I mentioned

More Coastal Exploring…

A place named Costanoa.

I mentioned in an earlier posting that we’ve been spending some weekend time exploring the Pacific Coast near our home. Usually, this is just a day trip — but after a long week it’s sometimes nice to plan an overnight getaway just for the change of spirit it brings.

We recently stayed at Costanoa, a wonderful place on the Pacific coast almost exactly halfway in between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz. Costanoa sits above Highway 1 — on the eastern side of the road — and has wonderful views looking down to the Pacific.

This section of the Pacific Coast is especially rich in sites to see. If you like elephant seals, Costanoa is about a mile north of Ano Nuevo. If you like lighthouses, it’s about a mile south of Pigeon Point Light Station.

Costanoa offers a range of accommodations: campsites up through premier lodge rooms. It was a cool, crisp, late California winter day when we were there so we opted for a room in the Lodge.

Friends have highly recommended the Douglas Fir Cabins.

A picture named 2002-0203-Castanoa 005.jpgThe tent cabins (available in several different price ranges) look like fun also.

Except for the Lodge, all of the other accommodations (cabins, campsites, etc.) have access to a shared Comfort Station. Not having stay there before, we were a little concerned about what the facilities might be liked — but they’re wonderful. Basically, a men’s an women’s locker room with warm floors, etc. In between the two rooms, there’s an outdoor fireplace that the management lights at sundown and when the sun comes back up in the morning. Next time, we’re definitely going to try out one of the cabins!

There’s no full service restaurant on the premises or nearby but the General Store has wonderful deli and take-out dishes as well as breakfasts in the morning. We opted to head to the Davenport Cash Store Restaurant for dinner (about 10 miles south of Costanoa) — although the great food at the General Store was very tempting dinner fare. During warmer weather, there are BBQ’s right outside the Store that would be perfect for grilling.

A picture named halfmoon.jpgI was out early in the morning exploring. The sun was stunning and, even more remarkable, there was a beautiful half moon hanging right over the Pacific! Although probably named for the shape of the coast and not a similar occurence over a hundred years ago, the moonscape nevertheless reminded me of Half Moon Bay!

Costanoa provides an “Adventure Guide” in the Lodge rooms (it’s also available for sale at the front desk). The Guide is something special — it contains an array of coverage of things to do on this stretch of the coast. We bought a copy — even though we know we’ll be back to Castanoa — because of all of the great tips it provides for coastal exploring in this area. The management of Costanoa really should think about making the Guide’s content available online!

Some other Costanoa links: About.com and Fast Company.