I walk toward the shore, feeling the grey-black sand shift underfoot as I leave the San Simeon State Park Creek Campground and head toward the crashing surf. The sky over the water in front of me is purple.

We could hear the surf pounding all night from our campsite.

[All of the photos on this post feature the Ektachrome film recipe for the GFX system.

I pause under a concrete bridge, which is Pacific Coast Highway and look back toward the faint glow of the coming sun. The lagoon forms a reflection with the dark band of trees at the horizon and reproduces the sky, the world echoed back on itself in the water’s surface.

I watch the sun rise over the Santa Lucia Mountains and note the ducks and seabirds paddling quietly across the still surface of the lagoon. After a few shots, I start back toward the shore, turning to see the sky over the water in front of me from teal to orange.

I head north and find that across from the reddish clay bluffs about a quarter of a mile away, in the surf, a large rock formation juts of the water.

The rock formation demands attention even before the rising sun kisses the crest of it, and I start heading that way. I set up camp and watch a few lines of pelicans glide in over the silky waves. They begin to circle the rock formation, looking to join the cormorants that are already clinging to the sides and top of the rock. I wait. The boundary line where the sun strikes the earth and its glow meets the receding shadow of the night moves ever toward the sand.

Standing on the sand, I scan the beach to the south looking for an interesting subject. I have only a portrait lens, the GFX 63mm. It’s an incredible lens, and excels at subjects that are a few feet to a dozen feet away. I’d say with subjects 20 or more feet away, it starts to lose power and the GFX100s is then providing the more of the power since you are able to crop in significantly. So, I wait. I wait for the right shape wave. A wave that is catching the light of the rising sun. A wave that has a glassy front and a frothy crest of white just before crashing.

The waves are small. I’m far away. The endless stretching seam of sky and sea, unchanging and flat, makes for a challenging subject. I think of compositions waiting out in the water in hip waders, under the water with a waterproof camera casing, over the water with a drone.

I inch my way up the shore and camp out in front of the rock formation and wait. I’m content. The colors of the morning ebb and flow like the waves. A composition comes to mind. I raise my shutter speed and set the focal point at the top of the rock. All I need is the convergence of two movements: the wave smashing into the base of the rock and a big bird landing, flying or wheeling overhead.

The sun warms my neck and shoulders and I feel the heat of the morning rising. I return to the lagoon and snap one final photo. Goodbye, San Simeon. Until next time.

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