The pilings here are remnants of Davenport’s attempt to turn whaling into a profitable business in the early 1860s. Soon, the whaling pier was abandoned as the owner discovered that importing lumber and cheese to San Francisco was a more profitable venture. This image almost never happened. Had I not needed to test my new Hasselblad H4D medium-format camera before heading to Hawaii, I never would have come here. But the need to familiarize myself with the new armor before going into battle gave us an iconic image of nature’s great light show. As I headed out of Santa Cruz, the light was turning spectacular. I arrived at the shooting location, hiking down the cliffs to the beach below. The clouds’ movement and spacing between the pier pilings directed my composition choice, and this is where the technical part got interesting. To take an exposure as long as possible, I placed 14 stops of grad filters in front of the lens with six stops of hard grad to keep the detail in the sky. A 26-second exposure brought a nice palette of softer red, but the 32-second exposure I settled on gave the file the extra color shift and allowed the sun to send a beam from heaven to touch the ocean. In addition to the whaling history, Ansel Adams shot a famous image of St. Vincent de Paul Church just behind this spot. Now, nature is reclaiming what she owns, surrounding a monument of the past.
Jeff Mitchum is one of the great American and international landscape photographers who rose to success in the recent years. He is often described as the “Ansel Adams of color” in the fine art photography world. Self taught, Mitchum is known for his compositional mastery and the keynotes in his work are the use of natural light and subject matter. His aesthetic is simple – to capture the stunning beauty of nature and dramatic landscape and bring it to people’s everyday lives.