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NOTE: this exhibit appeared in March 2001. Click here to visit the current showcase.
All other exhibits: Click here to access

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Seastack and surf.

I left my house well before dawn to capture the full moon setting over the city of San Francisco. As I drove over the East Bay Hills, I saw the moon farther north than I expected. After driving through the Embarcadero, and towards the Golden Gate Bridge, I realized that  I had to let go of my preconcived ideas. I left San Francisco, and opted for a nearby beach where this seastack sits in the tidal zone. I managed to arrive right at dawn for the best light. After shooting many variations, I especially liked this last shot of the morning, even though the moon is barely visible.


Moonset and Lighthouse at Dawn.

I had spent several foggy days on the North Coast shooting redwoods. I loved the soft light of the fog for the redwoods, but was disappointed not being able to catch the moonrise. On my last day in Crescent City, the fog was nowhere in sight, and I set out to catch the moon as it set behind Battery Point Lighthouse. I was surprised the beacon light worked at this time of morning. For the next few moments I used a cable release to capture the light as a great offset to the moon.


Family watches for whales.

This image was taken at a spot I had scouted several hours earlier. I was hoping for a sunset shot looking out from Bodega Head on the Sonoma Coast. As sunset approached, I was busy shooting the photograph below, which was about twenty five feet away. I was so engrossed in getting the other image, that I never noticed the family that sat down in the exact spot I wanted to place my tripod. Just as the sun poked out from below the clouds, I ran up to this spot preparing to catch the golden light on the cliffs. And there was the family. With no other options or time left to catch the rapidly changing light, I asked if they wouldn't mind my shooting over them. What resulted was one of my all time favorite images. 


Sunset from Bodega Head, Sonoma County.

See the story above, "Family watches for whales"



Alpenglow on clouds on the Big Sur Coast.

It had been a mostly dreary day with mixed clouds and muted sunshine. It was turning out to be another day of not being very inspired because of poor light. I found one turnout with a popular view point, and just waited for the remainder of the day. Lucky I had my backpacker stove and some fresh ground coffee, cheese, crackers, bread w/ mustard, a little red wine. As the hours trickeled by, I figured the best thing that was going to come from this day was a full belly. Just as sunset rolled around, the clouds offshore parted just enough to let the very last rays of sunlight through. This image proves the virtue of patience for a scenic shooter.


First Light on Rocky Point

A friend and I had spent the early part of the morning driving north along the Monterey coast just above Big Sur. We were  trying to capture the moon setting over the ocean. We had been at this location for almost an hour when the sun finally started to rise above the hills behind us. I set up this shot and waited another 10 minutes for the first rays of morning sun to fall on this rock outcrop.



Evening light and waves, Point Lobos

This was one of those images I was really happy to get. As a State Reserve, Point Lobos has very strict and limited access hours. Only during winter can you be at the park when the sun is setting. Rangers are very strict about booting people out of the Reserve as soon as the clock chimes 5:00pm. On this evening the sun had set a few minutes before, and I was returning to my truck, when I set up for this one last shot. I had shot about 6 frames when the Ranger pulled up and said, "Park is now closed. Please leave." I asked if I could stay an extra two minutes to finish off my roll of film. I was told, "No."  It was clear he was ready to wait and make sure his instructions were followed.  - Oh well, I'm very glad I was able to get those 6 frames.


Golden Gate Bridge at sunset from Baker Beach.

There were a few shots I knew I just had to get while shooting for my upcoming book on the California Coast. In my mind's eye I kept thinking of Ansel Adams image overlooking the Golden Gate with the big thunderclouds, taken before the bridge was built. One particular afternoon, the sky was filled with large cumulus clouds, and a friend and I headed out to see what conditions were like at the Gate. Of course, as the sun started to set, the clouds seemed to dissapate. (you can see a few remnants along the horizon) I continued to shoot through the evening light. After looking at all the shots from about six rolls of film, this one image with the little red cloud right behind the South Tower was my favorite.


Sunset at Golds Bluff Beach.

This classic Northern California sand beach is well off the beaten path. It requires several miles travel through the redwoods down an old dirt road. Anytime the sun is fully above the horizon, it is difficult to get an image without lens flare. On this particular evening however, there was just the right amount of clouds to get all the color and feeling of the scene, without having any lens flare ruin the shot. I found a nice patch of sand and grass, and used the small piece of broken driftwood to counter balance the location of the sun. 


Aerial over the Lost Coast
This was the only occasion when I hired a plane to get some aerial images for my book. It was a very windy day. While waiting in the airport for our little Cessna plane to pick us up, my friend and I were becoming nervous watching other small planes float sideways in for a landing. One plane hit the runway so hard its nose gear collapsed and slid tail up onto a taxi-way. A few minutes after that, our pilot showed up. "Ready?" he asked, pointing to the little plane outside. I was seated in the co-pilot seat, and because the flight was for my photography, the door of the plane where I was sitting had been removed. As we taxied by the plane that had just crash landed, I leaned out the gaping hole where the door should have been. Always the photographer, I  took a few pictures of the nose and bent propeller stuck in the dirt and the plane's tail in the sky. I could hear myself saying, "Just don't think about it." over and over. - That flight turned out to be the most fun I had all year, and produced several great shots, including this one.


Waves crashing on rocks at sunset.

Just after the sun had set behind the distant offshore clouds, I started to take a bunch of frames of this composition. As with all of the other times I have made slow exposure wave shots, there is always one frame where the shape of the wave, or a certain splash is better than in all the other frames. This is that frame.



Sunset and fog bank along the Lost Coast.

The Lost Coast of Humboldt County gets it's name from the fact that there are almost no roads and extremely limited access to this rugged and remote stretch of shoreline. The miles of very narrow twisting dirt roads are impassible during the especially long wet season. I first went to research the location at the regional BLM office. They had a scale topographic map, and a person from the BLM office pointed out the few roads and access areas. During my drive along the dirt roads, I came upon a Ranger who gave me great information on how to get to an even less traveled location. For amost an hour I worked, carefully trying to compose this image. I moved right, left, near, far,up, and down trying to find the one icon image. It was the shot that had been with me on the dirt roads;  leading me to a spot that would get the tree, sunset, distant ridges, and fog bank all into one picture. Afterwards, it took over an hour and a half, driving through dense fog and darkness to reach the first paved road, and another half hour to reach the nearest town. It was the years "most worthy" trip.


Wave Crash at Sunset, Marin Headlands

Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Marin Headlands make up a stretch of coastal region unlike any other in the Bay Area. I headed out on a windy spring afternoon to the cliffs north of Rodeo Beach. I was trying a second attempt at an image I had shot a couple of years earlier; where the sun lights the spray. Though I had shot a number of frames before this one, the air was so clear and crisp, that those images were all ruined by lens flare. It was only during the very few moments when the sun is just kissing the horizon that I knew would be the best chance for a flare-free shot. However, as the sun began to set, the winds died down, and all of the sudden there were no more big crashing waves. I began to menatlly race through every prayer and incantation I could think of, and low and behold, just one more wave hit.


Sunset at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Moss Beach

I had just spent an hour shooting a flock of sea gulls (not the band!) that were grouped on some rocks out in the tidal zone. I walked as far as I could given that it was a low tide. Because of the low stratus clouds we call fog, the lighting was a bit dim, and I was forced to use slow shutter speeds and a long lens. In my mind I knew that it would be a fluke if any of the images came outl. As the sun began to set I turned to head back towards shore. That's  when I noticed these three gulls much closer to me and away from the flock. What I like most about this image was the connection between the gulls and the coastal community of Moss Beach.


Sailboat at sunset, Newport Beach

If ever there was a single photograph that seemed to capture the essence of living in Newport Beach, this is close as I could get. I had spent several days in the Newport Beach / Coronado del Mar area shooting for my book. As typical for the summer, I had beautiful blue skys during the days, but in the morning and afternoon the fog would cling to the coast like a blanket coated in honey. The result; going days without seeing any of that "magic light". Finally, on my last day I noticed that the fog stayed a bit further off the coast. I headed to Lookout Point in Corona del Mar.The fog started to move inland just at sunset. But like being the recipient of a special gift,  the fog remained parted only in the small area of the sky just where the sun was setting. As I was taking some telephoto shots, I noticed this Catalina sailboat heading out of the harbor. I quicky shifted my gear and somehow managed to catch three frames with the boat and the sun and the tree. This is my favorite, with the edge of the tree just on the edge of the sail.


Stormy sunset at Pigeon Point Lighthouse.

A couple of years ago, I managed to get some really great images of this lighthouse during the annual lighting of the original lamp and fresnel lens. Every other time I had come to shoot this location, the fog was so dense as to not make picture taking worthwhile. Then, for reasons still unknown, and on a dreadfully dreary and rainy day, I decided to take a chance. Hoping that the storm might break at sunset, I chose to head back to Pigeon Point. I was dismayed upon my arrival that the cloud cover was a solid gray blanket, save one small sliver on the horizon. As time passed and sunset neared I could see an orange ribbon of sky less than a figertip wide start to move north and close up. I figured I had just wasted a trip when this very wild light came through the clouds. It lasted about two minutes and was gone. I never saw the sun.  The fact that this light happend to come through this extremely small hole in the clouds, and that the hole was in the ideal position to the lighthouse...small miracles DO exist!!!


Sunset at Salt Point, Sonoma Coast.

This image a memorial to my late truck, a 1984 GMC Jimmy. It was at this exact spot, no more than 10 minutes before this image was taken, that my beloved truck of 240,000 miles decided to drop its transmission. I knew something was wrong as I drove up the Sonoma coast. This was a true case of take pictures first, worry later. By the grace of the universe, my truck managed one last "double-clutching"  limp 5 miles back to our campsite. Thank god for AAA. 
I never drove my beloved truck again.  :( 
Every so often I hear people make glowing comments about this image, and how much they "just love it". Knowing I should be gracious for the compliment, all I can think of at those moments is, "This is where my truck died."


Golden cliffs at sunset, Torrey Pines

This goes to show that sometimes you do have to get your feet wet. I wanted the nice light at sunset on these coastal cliffs. I walked down the very narrow strip of  beach, but I couldn't find any composition that I liked. I was trying for an image that  showed both the cliffs and the ocean. I kept finding myself getting nearer and nearer to the surf line, trying to force some pleasing composition. Suddenly a large wave washed up and swept over my feet.
In the brief moment as the wave receeded, I caught a glimpse of the cliff reflected in the water. "Eureka!", I thought. I'm sure I must have raised the eyebrows of other beachgoers as I deliberately strode out into the water in my jeans and shoes, carrying my camera, camera bag, and tripod. I shot about a dozen frames, and each has a different feel with the white surf foam. This was the only frame that had all clear calm water between the waves, with no other white surf in the image, giving me this wonderfully clean reflection.


Juvenile Elephant Seals at sunset,  San Simeon.

I had the chance to spend an hour out among this herd of juvenile Elephant Seals with a local naturalist. It was fun to be only a few feet from these animals, under the close supervision of the naturalist.  As sunset neared, I found a spot just on the rise of a sand dune where I could look over the group. In all of the sunset shots like this one, be it verticals, horizontals, wide angle, or telephoto, this was the only frame where one of the seals showed any behavior or movement that didn't resemble an imitation of driftwood.



Surf and sunset through coastal fog, Del Mar.

This is the most classic representation of the summer coastal weather pattern. Fog blankets the coast in the morning,  burns off by 11:00am, and starts to roll back inland about and hour or so before sunset. Here you can see the first bands of low level stratus moving inland. As the first bands arrive, there is usually some breaks between the bands that allow a few final glimpses of the sun as the day draws to a close. Within 15 minutes from the time this image was made, the fog had reformed into a solid blanket; turning a colorful sunset into a cold steel grey evening. And the dance goes on....

Note: For best viewing, set your monitor to High Color or True Color (Thousands or Millions of Colors on MacOS) and 1024x768 pixels. These images have been carefully prepared with a Gamma of 2.2 using the Adobe1998RGB color space. This should work well with high-quality Windows monitors. If you are a MacOS user, set your Adobe Gamma control panel to "Windows Default" or, at the last resort, choose the sRGB calibrated profile in the Color section of your Monitors control panel.

 Please note: All images featured in the "CALIFORNIA COAST" showcase are Copyright © Gary Crabbe / Enlightened images, with all rights reserved. These images are protected by U.S. and international copyright laws and may not be used or reproduced without permission. For questions, licensing and usage information, to order prints, or information about photo workshops, please contact Gary Crabbe through his Enlightened images web site at, or send him an email to


These are a set of selected images that have been submitted for publication in my upcoming book, The California Coast, with text by author Karen Misuraca. The hard cover, coffee-table format book is being published in the Fall of 2001 by Voyageur Press, and is due to be in stores by October 15th. The California Coast is part of Voyageur's Pictorial Discovery series of regional titles. The book is not intended to be a travel or photography guide, but rather is a written and visual celebration of the natural history, scenic beauty, people, places, and lifestyles of our world famous coastline.  

About the Photographer: Gary Crabbe / Enlightened images

Gary currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area . Gary began taking pictures while attending
Humboldt State University, where he received a Bachelors Degree in Social and Adolescent Psychology,
and a Masters Degree in Directing, Acting, and Writing, for the Theater. His interest in pictures
began to grow after taking an elective class in Black & White photography. He soon found his passion
for images was in the pursuit of color and form in nature. 

After graduation, a twist of fate led Gary to manage a small outdoor oriented stock agency for nine years. 
Known for his industry expertise, Gary worked with many of the world's best known advertising agencies, magazines, and publishers. He has been happy to offer his knowledge and opinions consulting with other photographers,and has been quoted several times in Photo District News, Wired Magazine, Mother Jones, and numerous other trade publications. Gary left his job in 1999 to devote his time to building his own
photography business and raising his first son. 

Gary started Enlightened images in 1993 to handle the part time sale of his personal photography. His client
and publication credits have steadily grown, and currently include among others, the National Geographic
Society, New York Times, Forbes Magazine, L.L. Bean, The North Face, Sunset, Subaru, Miramar
Productions, Mirabella, Entree Magazine, The Nature Conservancy, The Carnegie Museum of Natural
History, and pro-bono work for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Int'l Committee of Lawyers for
Tibet. His fine art photographic prints and murals are included in both private and corporate collections,
and have been exhibited in numerous locations throughout the Bay Area. Gary also conducted highly
praised slide shows and workshops for groups like R.E.I., The Sierra Club, and The Photographic Society
of America. 

For more information on Gary's work, or to see more of his pictures, visit his web site for Enlightened
images at, which was awarded "Editors Choice" in the Netscape, AOL, and
Lycos Directories, and is currently seen by 20,000 visitors each month. 

Find photos of the Colorado Plateau in Land of the Canyons, the Photo Trip USA landscape photography guide book.
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