View Full Version : Monterey area in late Feb
I'll be going to one of John Sexton's printing workshops (in Carmel Valley) in late February and was thinking of staying a few (up to 5) extra days afterwards to bum around and take photos. Is it going to be worth it at that time of the year, weather-wise? I don't mind cloudy weather or cold, but constant rain would be kind of a downer. What are some good places/areas to concentrate on? I'd like to keep within about half a day's drive of Monterey, if possible. I've never been to California except for backpacking in the Sierras twenty years ago. I would likely stick to landscapes, but I also like decaying industrial sites or interesting architecture if there is anything lke that around. I'll only be doing B&W, if that matters.
I can't say how rainy it will be in February, but the weather is usually quite nice on the coast that time of year with plenty of sunshine and green hills.---Cheers!
As John said, the weather in the Monterey area is usually pretty nice, comparitively speaking, but changeable. Having another person to hold one of those big golf umbrellas in case of rain would be nice. A member of the Swedish Bikini Team as your umbrella holder would be great, but they're tough to hire. ;-)
If you do a little research on the web beforehand, you'll be well-served. Obvious spots to shoot include Point Lobos (just south of Carmel), the Carmel Mission, and the coast south of Carmel to Big Sur. Several other Missions are not too far from Monterey, as well, and the coast north of Santa Cruz (across the bay from Monterey) is interesting, as well.
Big Sur (1/2 hour S of Carmel on Rte 1) and Hearst Castle (maybe 1-1 1/2 h S on Rte 1) are also interesting, although there are some restrictions at Hearst which in practice preclude LF photography. Thus you need to visit w/ a group, and they are not going to wait for you to set up your camera. I don't know where can you find decaying industrial sites, but would also be interested to find out.
Bring lots of film.
There are lots of old California Missions to photograph as well as redwood forests above Santa Cruz. There is the old refractory north of Monterey too for your old decaying industrial site. Then there is all of San Fransisco Bay area which is just north of Monterey. There are miles of shoreline and rolling hills around Monterey. Don't miss Carmel with it's galleries and if you ask John, he will guise you to more interesting photographic areas than any of us can.
FWIW, I always though the waterfront at Moss Landing is an interesting area. Don't miss out on the local wineries or the French Toast at Em-Lee's in Carmel! If you do head South on Hwy 1, try the onion rings at The Custom House in Avila Beach, Cappuccino at Ragged Point, and The Smokehouse right by the Cayucos Pier(I'm getting hungry!) Moonstone Beach in Cambria is quite nice at low tide---there are trails that let you get right up to the rocks, waves, and seals if thats what rocks your boat. A tourist map that shows all the points of interest along the Big Sur coastline is a good investment.---Cheers!
Thanks folks for the ideas. I guess my main purpose was to try to figure out how many vacation days I should commit so I could buy plane tickets. I guess it's obvious I won't get bored within the time available.
One question: I remember a previous post here where someone mentioned that Point Lobos was more restricted now (and seems to be confirmed by the Park web site) and being off-trail is strongly discouraged. Is that going to be a barrier to photography? Or, are they less apt to pay attention to off-trailing in Feb as opposed to high tourist season (whenever that is)?
Also, though I doubt I'll run out of film, are there sheet film (TMX or Tri-X) retailers in the immediate Monterey/Carmel area, just in case?
Sexton will take you on a 1 day trip to Point Lobos. The shots are mostly near the water, so the restricitons on walking all over will be pretty much a no issue.
In the area, go to the Carmel Mission. They allow photography of all types. Charge to get in is $5 or so, and a real bargain. It is just north of Point Lobos...
The coast is spectacular, and just soouth of POint Lobos at Garapata Beach is some winderful shooting. Bixby Bridge is a great spot from the north of the bridge with fog. No fog? Don;t go. The bridge is the first bridge south of Carmel on Hwy 1.
The are that Sexton lives is basically a Oak forest. You can shoot there till you drop and never be bored. The road leading to Carmel Valley from Hwy 101 is a wonderful road, and certainly deserves a few sheets of film.
I could be wrong, but I think the restrictions at Pt. Lobos and other areas along the coast pertain to nesting and/or mating seasons of the Elephant Seals and some species of shorebirds. I'm not sure exactly when those times are though-----Good Luck!
If you can afford it, go to the Post Ranch Inn for a stay or just a meal. It is awesome, truly one of the great hotels on the planet.
Do a little research of the kinds of photography you want to explore and John will tell you where you can go to find these images. Exploring is how I like to do it but with limited time available you might want to refine your vision a little and ask John. He is extremely helpful. Moss Landing is a wonderful place to photograph and it is huge. You could spend a full day there and still not see it all but take some throw away shoes or hipwaders. And the old sand refractory can be a worthwhile shoot too. Take a look at Michael Kennas work to see the possibilities. Have fun. The Elephant seals are beached around end of April to middle June and should not be approached closely for your sake and theirs. Pebble Beach (not the one at Carmel but the one up north of Santa Cruz) is a wonderful place to shoot if you like abstracts. And yes the road leading from 101 to Carmel Valley is worth the trip. Very nice in the fog too. Mission San Antonio de Padua and Mission San Miguel are superb places to shoot. Carmel is a little too modern as is Mission San Juan Batista. For redwoods, Pfifer Big Sur State Park is beautiful too. But don't miss out on the galleries in Carmel. And the venue at The Highland Inn south of Carmel. Sheesh, I might as well take off again and go myself. See you there in two weeks.
Mission San Miguel is closed because of the earthquake damage it suffered recently.
If you're looking for unnerving architecture, check out Colma---its a necropolis! BTW, its very disturbing when someone comes up quietly behind you and taps you on the shoulder to ask "...is that a hasselblad?" when you're shooting in Colma;-)
As far as film goes, I don't know for sure if they stock film, but Camera West in Monterey and Camera Club in Soquel(just South of Santa Cruz) might be good bets. Call in advance. Also, the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite now stocks 4x5. There is an Ansel Adams Gallery in Monterey---maybe they do as well....? FWIW, Adolph Gasser & Calumet in 'Frisco have 4x5.
Myrick's in Monterey carries LF film. Call them in advance if you want to be sure, and I am sure they would hold anything for you ( if you pay for it in advance!). Steve Myrick is a very nice gentleman and has a wonderful store.
Having lived in santa cruz for 8 years now, I would have to disagree about John's recomendation for camera club in capitola. In my experience, a good portion of their staff does not even KNOW what sheet film is. You will most likely be met by blank stares if you ask..... Furthermore, they do not and have not carried sheet film for as long as I've been here. I'm not saying this out of spite, but simple frustration that a business calling themselves a camera store is not willing to cater to serious photographers especially in such a photogenic area!! Fortunately, there is a WONDERFULL photography store in the area called Monterey Bay Photo Mart. It is nearby in capitola at 2855 park avenue just off of highway 1. Richard and is Mother who run the store are polite, friendly and full of knowledge. They carry 4x5, 5x7, and 8x10 in stock. You may have to call in advance to be sure they have 8x10, but they always have Kodak and Illford offerings in 4x5 and 5x7. Their phone number is 831-476-4141. Have a good time, and don't forget to check out the elephant seals!
Bring lots of film. You will be so pumped up after the workshop that you will want to photograph everything in sight.
James, could you elaborate a bit on the refractory north of Monterey that you mention (location, etc)?
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