Required reading:  To fully understand the following, please review my previous blog item “Light, Tides & Tics" on the Announcements page or just below this post.

Armed with a knowledge base acquired during multiple, mostly unsuccessful, trips to Bowling Ball Beach, I set off again following my destiny. 

Known facts:
1)            Tics hurt, burrow deep and fast.  Avoid them!
2)            Photography is “painting with light.”  Fog blocks light.  Avoid it!
3)            The “perfect” tide for my purposes is between 2’ & 2 ½’.  The time is now!
4)            The weather prediction for today is partly cloudy, with full sun tomorrow.  Clouds add interest but can block the light.  Chance it!
5)            Outgoing tides are difficult to work with.  Although they eventually may reach the desired 2 ½ feet, until then (and even then) you are at the mercy of the ocean, surf and waves.

Facts to file away and possibly consider (I didn’t):
1)            When evaluating tides, think calculus, i.e. tidal flows have slopes.  They can linger, or they can rush in or out.
2)            A steep slope on an incoming tide was waiting just for me.

I arrived two hours before sunset.  Interesting clouds with clear horizon brought with it the likely possibility of good light just at the right time.  I was able to walk quite far out into the “bowling balls” and snap off a few pictures for fun while awaiting the ocean water to perfectly fill the bowling lanes.  During that quiet time I was not thinking, “rush in,” “onslaught,” “panic,” “race,” – those kinds of words.

So the sequence was: a cloud decided to linger near (not on) the horizon, blocking the sun such that the balls and the shore and cliffs remained untouched by the direct warm sunlight that I so desired.  Seeing my anxiety (about ½ hour before sunset) the tide burst out of the starting blocks and rolled in with a vengeance.  I am standing in ankle-deep water (as I have for the past 2 hours), but now with waves hitting close to my knees.  I can take it!  My tripod can’t.  The cloud taunts me.  It finally relents, but the water keeps coming fast.  I’m aware of my toes (cold) – affects my thoughts, my creativity. 

Well, I did get some interesting pictures.  A softer tide, a more gentle and loving tide, or a more generous and caring solitary cloud would have allowed me to take a few more.  I guess they want me to come back.

I have updated my BB beach slide show to include shots from all my trips.  They are in order of capture so the latest are at the end.

The 50th Anniversary of the Point Reyes National Seashore (2012)

Over the past several years I have had the good fortune to visit and photograph some of the most beautiful spots on the planet, primarily, but not exclusively, in the western US.  If asked for advice, it would be easy for me to simplify the process to “go to a beautiful spot, wait for good light and perhaps a “moment” (e.g. weather) and snap away.”  So it is about me and the weather and some artistic vision and some luck.  

Not quite.  It is really about “the most beautiful spots on the planet,” and the realization that to keep the spots pristine and accessible, vast numbers of employees and volunteers expend huge efforts, often unnoticed and under-appreciated.

This is certainly true at the Point Reyes National Seashore, where I have hiked, taken classes and photographed many times.  Fifty years ago a few volunteers and thousands of hours of effort resulted in the creation of this National Seashore designation.  Today, the National Park Service and its partner, the non-profit Point Reyes National Seashore Association, work in concert to maintain this incredibly valuable resource in Northern California.

This blog then, is a commercial.  Come and visit, but also donate.  I took the following off the PRNSA web site:

“PRNSA is the primary nonprofit park partner working with the National Park Service at Point Reyes. As the only federally protected seashore on the West Coast, PRNSA's partnership in helping to fund critical preservation and restoration projects is both crucial and unique. We can't do this alone! The support of PRNSA members directly contributes to endangered species recovery and wildlife protection, habitat restoration, preservation of cultural and historic legacies, and environmental education programs for people of all ages. As a member, you will be protecting Point Reyes as a critical part of a healthy Bay Area ecosystem and as a beautiful park, rich in history, for you and future generations to explore and enjoy.”

Of course, all of our parks need support.  As the New Year comes in (tomorrow) it is a good time to reflect on how lucky we all are to have such resources for our children and ourselves. 

Check out the following web links:


To donate:


And the NPS site:


I am very fond of the California coast, particularly its northern half.  Nevertheless I have found it difficult to photograph.  Skies are (usually) not interesting.  Fog is hard to capture.  I have had a hard time creating interesting compositions.  Pictures of haystacks taken from the beach at sunset along then Oregon coast, with splashing waves and sun stars, are beautiful if more common; I want to go there next.  But I keep trying closer to home.  My new slide show (Home Page) gives a glimpse of our coastline.  I have included some lighthouses.  I have taken pictures from higher up, from the beach, standing far back from the beach and looking backward from the beach.  I have placed the point of emphasis miles from the shooting site.   I captured a family of whales (well, flumes).  At any rate I am trying, and will continue to do so.


Richard Gaston Photography