One of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2020 is to do more local photography. I had planned on making the trek down to Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur but the weather down there was poor. So I replanned and made the much shorter drive to Half Moon Bay.

One of the challenges with intended to do more photography is that it can be hard to plan in advance. The weather can render a planned excursion useless. I was able to find a suitable alternate location today so I’m keeping my resolution so far. However, February kills off most New Year’s resolutions so I’ll need to keep at it.

California, Landscape, Santa Cruz Coast

New Year’s Resolutions

Image

“Caught in the fading light of the longest night” — Howie Day, the Longest Night

This is the last light of 2019 which is also the last light of the decade of the 2010s. It’s very my last photograph that I created in 2019. As the light fades and day turns into night, sometimes the very last image works well.

Every year I think about how both Christmas and New Year’s are a slightly delayed marking of the winter solstice. More than any other event of the year, the shortest day and longest night connect my thoughts to many generations past. The earliest humans lived close to the equator so solstice probably wasn’t a big deal to our earliest ancestors since the length of the days near the equator doesn’t change very much. But once humans move to higher latitudes, the solstice must have very noticeable to our ancestors.

It will never cease to amaze me that Stone Age farmers built giant solstice aligned monuments such as New Grange. Every year I wonder what those monuments signified to them. But at a very visceral level, I understand why the solstice mattered to them. Modern humans know the days will get longer again because we have the science to understand the seasons. But ancient humans must have thought they were at the mercy of Gods for the days to get longer again.

Even with all the science, the glory of seemingly endless summer days is just 6 months away but feels infinitely far off to me. They will indeed return. But in the meantime, we have a couple of months of cold and long winter nights. At least, our modern technology provides light and heat and we are not huddled around a fire hoping the Gods see fit to bring longer days again.

California, Santa Cruz Coast

Last Light

Image

For the final sunset of 2019, I drove out to Capitola and was rewarded with a brilliant sunset.

Happy New Year!

California, Santa Cruz Coast

Goodbye 2019

Image

The prettiest season on the California coast is the winter. In the summer, the coast is often foggy and even on days when the skies are clear, there’s almost always a marine layer over the ocean which obscures the sunset. As such, prettiest sunsets are on clear winter days. For this reason, most of my visits to the coast are in winter and that experience is completely different than how non-Californians envision the coast. My California coast has cool crisp winter air where jackets and winter hats are a must and there’s not a soul sunbathing.

California, Santa Cruz Coast

California Midwinter

Image

Sunset over San Gregorio State Beach

Due to the recent heavy rains, San Gregorio Creek is wider and deeper than usual. A few brave or perhaps foolhardy souls crossed it to get the main beach but the waters were almost waist deep. I elected to stay on the thin strip of beach on the parking lot side of the creek.

Santa Cruz Coast

San Gregorio State Beach Sunset

Image

Shark Fin Cove Sunset

I’d seen Shark Fin Cove from above many times. The cove is visible from Highway 1, just south of the town of Davenport. Descending into the cove gives a completely different experience than peering down on it from above. The sheer rock walls ascend dramatically and envelope the cove on three sides. The shark’s fin in the middle of cove creates the feeling of the cove being a magical place.

California, Santa Cruz Coast

Shark Fin Cove Sunset

Image

Santa Cruz Coastline Sunset

The clouds looked just right for an amazingly colorful sunset. But by the time sun went down, the clouds had mostly dissipated. There was still some color along the horizon and any sunset along the Santa Cruz Coast where the sun isn’t obscured by fog is always worth seeing.

Santa Cruz Coast

Laguna Creek Beach Sunset

Image

Sunset at Laguna Creek Beach

Another image created on my new year’s day excursion to the coast.  For me, this image captures the feel the winter on the coast:  cloudy, cold and shrouded in veil of mystery.

California, Santa Cruz Coast

Laguna Creek Beach, Part II

Image

Sunset on Laguna Creek Beach

One of my new year’s resolutions was to spend more time on my photography so I figured I should start on New Year’s Day with an excursion out to the coast.  The scene struck me as very much a January day:  overcast, cold and with just hints of sunset color.    January is when the lights and cheer of the holidays are forgotten and what’s left is the realization that it’s a long haul till spring.

California, Santa Cruz Coast

Laguna Creek Beach

Image