It was the second week of August 2018 in the central valley of California and I had been choked out of the city and onto the beach.
Visions of the sand, waves, and fresh air had been lingering in my mind all year. I needed to get out there not only to feel alive again, but also to test some new hardware. In previous years, I would load up a cumbersome backpack with as much gear as it could fit- and I would always finish the day sore and regretful. This time around, I wanted to travel light, with as little weighing me down as possible. I enlisted my trusty Nikon D300 with my recently acquired 18-140mm VR lens. The idea was to use one lens the entire trip, but of course I had to bring my 10.5mm Fisheye, just in case I came across an irresistible vista. My drive out to the coast wasn't ideal, as traffic collisions and road closures had nearly doubled the travel time, even on the scenic route- something Google had forgot to mention before I tapped "Begin Navigation".
The path to the beach was adorned with brilliantly colored and eye-catching Ice Plants. Complicated with unearthed roots, fallen tree branches, and shifting miniature dunes delicately held up by surrounding flora, the trail lead straight to what I sought most of all. Weary from the commute, I eagerly watched for my first glimpse of the ocean.
Winds picked up and waves could be heard crashing. I looked up from my carefully placed steps and there it was.
My sense of adventure peaked as soon as I spotted those waves. Just a little further, through the predominant wall of tall grass, and I was finally there.
From here I kicked off my shoes and walked down the beach, snapping photos of everything that caught my eye. I came across the usual Bodega Bay staples- driftwood structures, strolling couples, and coastal creatures. I encountered these tiny little Plovers, scurrying between seaweed and various footprints. They were mostly in groups of 5 or 6, and fled from me even while keeping my distance. I almost wish I had brought along my heavy, slightly longer lens to get a picture of these adorable birds.
I was glad to have found this lone Whimbrel, or as I would plainly call, Sandpiper. It payed close attention to me as I knelt down to take the shot.
A good omen, a squadron of Pelicans flew overhead as I prepare for a location change.
A long, leisurely walk up and down the beach was all I had in me before I realized I had left behind nourishment in my car. My plan was to stay on the beach, have a little picnic, and enjoy the sunset there before driving home. The thought of walking back to my car and having to endure that less than friendly trail did not sit well with me. A parched-fueled yet easy decision was made to abandon the beach for food and water. Besides, I had actually been here several times before. I marked my presence and continued on.
I noticed a road behind me continuing in a direction I hadn't previously noticed. Realizing I was on the wrong side of the peninsula for prime sunset photos, I curiously followed a car up the no longer county maintained road. On the other side I found the Bodega Bay Trailhead, the starting point to a network of trails leading to windy cliffs, fields of wildflowers, and many other shutter-finger pleasing views.
I feel like none of my shots I captured that day do justice to the unrelenting winds that these cliffs conjure up. This woman carefully plotted her steps to stay upright amidst the constant gale.
Among the expansive view of ocean and sky were small worlds that seem to mostly go unnoticed until one takes a moment to look down just a little further. Flowers and plants that spend their life on the edge of cliffs and vast fields of their own kind. Something I've done since childhood is dream about their daily life in their one and only position for as long as they exist. Forever peaceful with waves crashing beneath, winds rolling over, and visits from small creatures.
Coming back I caught a fantastic angle of this gorgeous tree. Ancient in its appearance, it gracefully framed these visitors while they chose their sunset-watching positions.
Seagulls were dominantly present all around the shore, roosting on wave-battered rocks.
The group of pelicans I saw earlier swooped in to have their picture taken. Effortlessly gliding below the the cliffs in front of me.
Waves ruptured at just the right time for me to be able to capture this couple enjoying an exhilarating moment together.
I was able to set up a tripod for a quick portrait of myself braving the winds that massively overpowered the warmth of the diminishing sun.
The only fisheye shot I took was well worth trekking along with an additional strap around my neck all day.
The sun dipped below the horizon, marking the end of a successful and fulfilling adventure. The only thing left to do was drive home in the dark, excited to see what experience I had captured. At least by then the traffic had subsided.
I treat every photo taken as a brand new reason to learn and improve my techniques. I live each moment again as I prepare to share my art with the world.