California Coast Photography Workshop
Central California boasts some of the finest coastline in the world. This intersection of land and sea contains an endless array of fascinating rocky points, arches, sea-stacks, and sandy shores. From the dramatic and rugged beauty of the Big Sur coast up through the varied seascapes of Santa Cruz county, it’s the perfect setting for a coastal photography workshop. Explore and photograph this world-class coastal environment from someone who lived there for 17 years…me! This multi-day California coast photography workshop will help photographers create entrancing photos of the breathtaking central California coast. The workshop focuses on understanding your camera’s settings and how you can use them to effectively create better photos through the use of filters and motion. There is a strong emphasis on producing striking and powerful compositions as this section of coast offers unique opportunities for leading lines, repeating patterns, various forms of contrast, and more.
Small Group Size
Our small group size insures quality, professional instruction on par with your level as a photographer.
Learn to Manage Light
Whether you want to use filters for the “all-in-one” approach or bracket for HDR, we’ll help you master dynamic light.
Photography should be an enjoyable experience. Our workshops feature a fun, positive, interactive learning environment.
Workshop Fee $1895
A $700 deposit is required to reserve your spot with the payment in full due 90 days prior to the start of the workshop.
- Quality, professional, 1-on-1 photography instruction on par with your level as a photographer.
- Small group size of 5 or less.
- 3 full days and 2 half days of in-field shooting and instruction.
- Image critiques and post processing sessions.
- Snacks throughout the workshop.
- A fun, positive, interactive learning environment.
What’s Not Included
- 4 nights lodging: 2 in Santa Cruz and 2 in Monterey. I recommend staying along Mission St on the west side of Santa Cruz for the first two night and along Lighthouse Ave in Pacific Grove for the final two nights.
- Transportation. While participants need to provide their own transportation during the workshop we will be carpooling as much as possible.
- Meals, though the group often eats together throughout the workshop.
- Trip Insurance: I highly recommend trip insurance due to unforeseen circumstances that may require your cancellation.
Getting to the workshop
This workshop is based out of Santa Cruz and Monterey, California. Santa Cruz is located at the Northern end of the beautiful Monterey Bay at the intersection of the 17 and 1 highways. Just 30 minutes south of San Jose, 1.5 hours south of San Francisco, or 5 hours north of Los Angeles, Santa Cruz is easy to get to from all parts of California. We will spend our first two nights here. On Friday, we will head to Monterey for the final two nights.
Day 1: Wednesday
Participants arrive in Santa Cruz and are free to explore the area on their own. A few hours before sunset we will meet to introduce the group, talk a bit about the workshop, and go out to shoot our first sunset. Then we turn you loose to get a good night’s sleep.
Day 2-3: Thursday & Friday
An early wake up call ensures we’ll be at our first beach and shooting when the sun rises. Then it’ll be a beach-blitz day: from sunrise to sunset we’ll be covering the absolute best and most beautiful beaches in Santa Cruz county. Some of our absolute favorite beaches, such as Four Mile Beach and Hole in the Wall Beach, live in this section of coast. Of course there will be breaks scheduled so we can rest, get something to eat, and recharge our batteries. On Friday, we will head down to Monterey, check-in, and head out for sunset.
Day 4-5: Saturday & Sunday
On Saturday, we will spend time at Point Lobos on short hikes to explore this beautiful section of coast. Point Lobos is often referred to as the greatest meeting of land and sea. It’s a highlight! We will head down into Big Sur for our sunset before wrapping up with one final sunrise in Monterey on Sunday.
This workshop is organized to take advantage of the best and most interesting locations the central California coast has to offer. However, the exact itinerary and places we visit may change depending on the group and weather conditions.
The central California coast enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with mild temperatures all year round. In December nights are typically chilly and days are cool, with temperatures ranging anywhere from 32°F to 70°F. Winter also brings relief from the fog that often blankets the coast in the summer. Moreover, the central coast receives the vast bulk of its annual precipitation during the months from November to March. Along with rain, those winter storms bring dramatic light to the coast, making winter the best time for coastal photography in this area.
Our California Coast Photography Workshop topics include:
• Transforming your artistic vision into memorable photographs
• Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO – their relationship to one another and how to change them for exposure control
• Metering and getting a correct exposure
• Histograms, how to read them, and how to fine-tune exposure
• Creative depth-of-field effects using aperture control
• Capturing motion within your photos using different shutter speeds
• Timing waves to capture crashing spray, water streaks, and sandy reflections
• White balance and creative coloration
• Creating perspective, depth, and a sense of “being there” in your photos
• Creating powerful compositions with impact
• Composing to control your viewer’s attention in your photos
• Composition: balance, tension, and visual flow
• How to use filters to capture dramatic light or create long-exposure effects
• Shoot planning and how to be at the right place at the right time
• Interchangeable lens camera: either mirror less or DSLR
• Lenses: Wide and ultra-wide angle lenses are highly recommended as are mid-range, medium telephoto, and possibly macro
• A sturdy tripod
• Circular polarizer and neutral density filters
• Rain fly
• Remote shutter release
Due to the cool days and chance of getting wet (either from the ocean or a rainstorm), we HIGHLY recommend bringing multiple layers of non-cotton clothing, a sturdy rain jacket and rain pants, a warm hat, gloves, lots of changes of socks, some dry shoes, and waterproof or rubber boots to wear while shooting. A wide-brim hat, sunscreen and sunglasses, and a large water bottle will also be indispensable.
This California coast photography workshop is appropriate for photographers of average fitness levels. We will walk approximately 5 miles over the course of each day of the workshop. This includes walking on sandy, uneven, and slippery terrain. All participants are expected to be able to carry their own camera, personal gear, and water during the workshop.
My workshops combine the very best scenery we can find along with in-depth knowledge of the areas we’re visiting. From the coast to the mountains to the desert, our workshops visit some of the most breathtaking landscapes you can imagine. And with hundreds of hours spent scouting and shooting in each location, I know the best times to visit, the best things to see, and the best shots to get. Plus I’m constantly adding new and exciting locations to our line-up so you can keep expanding your photographic horizons.
1-on-1 Instruction at Your Level
I take a three-tiered approach to my photography instruction: Philosophy. Theory. Technique. This means that no matter what level of photographer you are, you can expect to walk away from a workshop with your head bursting with ideas about how to refine your vision and find your own style, an understanding of camera techniques and composition concepts to springboard your photography, and the actual “How-To” of nailing a shot in the field. And with my relaxed, casual, 1-on-1 approach, you can soak up just the information YOU need to become a better shooter.
Small Class Size
My workshops insure you get ample one-on-one time, and the small group size also helps build camaraderie. Plus, we can go places big photography tours simply can’t.
A “Go Happy or Go Home” Attitude
I believe photography is as much about enjoyment as it is about scoring a keeper for your portfolio. I strive to create a fun and dynamic environment in which you meet other photographers, learn at your own pace, enjoy the beauty of nature, and have a great time while doing it.
I Never Stop Scouting
I’m never content to rest on my laurels. Before and after every workshop, I am scouting, scouting, scouting. Whether it’s to find new and exciting location to shoot or to provide a different view of the old icons, I strive to show you the absolute best places for photography.
Fully Insured and Permitted, Leave-No-Trace Advocates
My workshops are 100% above board, and I obtain all necessary permissions and insurances.
I am also a strong advocate of Leave No Trace (LNT) wilderness ethics. I teach responsible photography practices and never sacrifice the environment for the sake of a photo. My goal is to leave our photography workshop locations in better shape than how we found them.
Jim Patterson lived in Santa Cruz for over 17 years and practically put the area “on the map” with his spectacular seascape photography. From Half Moon Bay south all the way through Big Sur, Jim knows the area’s beaches like no one else due to countless hours spent scouting and photographing the central California coast.