Afternoon and Sunset photos at El Matador Beach, June 23


Sunday, June 23, 2013, led by Douglas Wade 661 972-2201


UPDATE: If you are interested, we can meet at Neptune Net Restaurant 42505 Pacific Coast Hwy Malibu, CA 90265 for a late lunch at 1:30ish. From there we can carpool to El Matador. The restaurant is 5.5 miles northwest up on PCH.


Time 3:30pm to slightly after sunset. Meet as a group at the base of the stairs at 4:00pm

32215 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu

With the summer heat in the Antelope Valley it is time to head to the beach. Near the Malibu area is a little tucked away beach called El Matador State Beach. Parking is $8 and the walk is on a steep dirt trail including some stairs, and it is worth it. The view from the upper cliff is incredible as you look down on large rock formations, surrounded by with deep blue water and visible kelp forests.

There is plenty to photograph, and sunsets are outstanding. When shooting into the sunset, the camera will underexpose the scene (due to the bright sun), and you will lose detail in the image. Try shooting sunsets by bracketing your exposures.  Since most everyone shoots digital, we can take many exposures at no additional cost.  Set your exposure bracketing to take multiple shots at +2, +1, 0, -1, and -2.   Even if you’re not intending to combine the images into an HDR shot, you will be able to have a choice in choosing which one image has the most appeal to you.  It may surprise you that the -2 underexposed image ends up being a striking image.  It is a perfect time to experiment with your camera.

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Try some different techniques like long exposures, such as 15 or 30 seconds, to capture images of moving water that will appear cloud like in your photos. You will need a tripod and cable release. You may need a Neutral Density (ND) filter to get longer timed exposures.

How about time lapse photography? If you have a second camera, bring it and set it on a tripod and capture 1 second exposures for 15-20 minutes with the format set to small jpeg. Process those 1000+ images in a short video that runs under a minute. Even if you do not have a second camera, being at the beach there is plenty of time to block out ½ hour to experiment with time lapse.

Think about processing some of your pictures in Black and White. There's something about B&W at the beach that completely changes the mood and feel of a shot.

If you have one, try using a polarizing filter.  It will reduce glare and reflections and boost contrast. The most noticeable effect is the impact on the sky (cuts out some haze) and can add contrast to clouds. It also gives pleasing effects to the water.  One unfortunate side effect of using a polarizer at sunset is the damage that can be done to beautiful sunset colors. A lot of the color seen at sunset comes from light bouncing off of smog or particles in the air. As the polarizer’s job is to block reflected light, those colors disappear.

Things to bring:

  • Wide angle lens
  • Zoom lens for birds
  • Tripod
  • Cable release
  • Polarizing filter
  • ND Filter
  • Protective bags for camera and gear

Plan on getting wet up to your knees or higher! Bring shorts, shoes that you won’t mind getting wet. Bring a towel and an extra pair shoes and shorts to change after.

Park Hours: 8 a.m. to sunset

Parking: A fee parking lot is open from 8 a.m. to sunset. There is also limited free parking on P.C.H.

Food/dining: You must pack your own food and drink in and out of the beach.

Restrooms: Portable restrooms are located at the trailhead.

Keep an eye out for images to be entered into the upcoming competitions:  Vehicles, Human Interest, Nature, Creative, and Night Photography. Vehicles at the beach?  Yes, this is Malibu!  It is not hard to find $200K cars parked as you drive along the Pacific Coast Highway.  Take your time and make it a day at the beach!

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