I recently returned from the coast where I led a two-day photography workshop in the rustic fishing village of Moss Landing on Monterey Bay.
Moss Landing is located on Highway 1 between Santa Cruz and Monterey. Two very tall smokestacks from a natural gas-electric generating plant act as a beacon to lead you to the tiny town with countless photo opportunities.
There are four distinct areas to photograph around this seaside community.
The first is the small (actually just one street), quaint downtown area. This street is the home of a few old and weathered buildings that house a few nice art galleries and antique stores.
Walk and photograph this main street early in the morning or late in the day. In this area you will find many interesting details to photograph. A few of the small businesses have old, dilapidated boats out in front that have tons of character. My students spent an hour at one of these old wooden ships making images of the weathered wood and bronze fittings.
A macro or close-up lens will allow you to show the great detail and texture that is here.
There is much more than meets the eye in this downtown area but you must get out of your car and take your time exploring to find some really cool images.
The next spot that is a must for the photographer is the beach and dune area. The beach is just a short walk from town. Just head toward the harbor and go over the bridge; once over the bridge there will be a small parking lot to the left. From here head over the dunes to the ocean.
This stretch of beach is normally deserted and offers many photo possibilities. If you walk along the beach to the north you will come to the remains of an old pier that emerges out of the ocean. This makes a dramatic backdrop for a sunset photograph.
If you can drag yourself out of bed early enough this is a great beach to photograph the sunrise as well, as long as it is not a foggy morning. The low angle of the rising sun dancing across the breaking waves that come crashing onto the beach makes for spectacular photographs, especially if a flock of seagulls are flying over the waves.
The dunes that ring the beach offer many beautiful small flowers and bright red ice plant to photograph but watch for dune areas that are closed for restoration. You can still photograph here, just don't cross over the roped-off sections to do it.
The third area that is fun to photograph is the harbor.
Moss Landing is a large commercial fishing port with an abundance of interesting fishing vessels to photograph. Some of which are old and rusty, some new and sleek. There are also stacks of old crab pots and assorted fishing gear that has lots of character.
The fourth area to make some great wildlife shots is the Elk Horn Slough.
The mouth of the Slough is located in Moss Landing. This 7-mile long tidal estuary is home to sea otters, sea lions, harbor seals and hundreds of species of birds.
There are three ways to gain access to the slough, the first is by a series of trails that leave from the Elk Horn Slough Reserve which is on Elk Horn Slough Road about 15 minutes from Moss Landing.
The second two are by boat. You can rent kayaks at Moss Landing or take the Elk Horn Safari guided tour into the slough -- www.elkhornslough.com. The Safari is a 27-foot pontoon boat that will take you into the slough and get you up close to the marine life. They charge $35 for a 2-hour tour.
You will need a longer telephoto lens of at least 300mm to get close-up photos of the wildlife.
To view images from Moss Landing go to my website, www.jaysousaphotography.com and then click on galleries and Range Finder.
My next workshop, titled "Fall Season in the High Country," is scheduled for Sept. 22-23 and will be held in Yosemite. For more information, contact me at email@example.com.