“I was happy anywhere I could see the ocean.” Ai Yazawa, Japanese Author
Driving about an hour north from bustling San Francisco, we’re transported to largely uninhabited Point Reyes National Seashore. Here, at Point Reyes Peninsula, dramatic shoreline cliffs converge with crashing ocean waves.
< Drake's Beach, Evening Reflection, Nikon D800E 1/60 at f/16, ISO 250
Located on the San Andreas earthquake fault line, the 71,000 acre national nature preserve is home to countless wildlife species, marine ecosystems and the Point Reyes Lighthouse.
< Drake's Beach Golden Hour, Nikon D800E 1/15 at f/20, ISO 250
With photo opportunities galore, our first challenge was determining where to start and how to spend our limited time in this vast scenic park. Intially, we visited the lighthouse and each of the beach areas. With the exception of readily accessible Drake’s Beach, hiking was required to access the shoreline areas. Thus, we saw few other people along the highly photogenic shoreline - a huge expanse of sandy beaches separated by steep, impassible cliffs.
< Limantour Beach at Dawn, Nikon D800E, 1/50 at f/18, ISO 400
This being a January trip, we encountered fierce winds and bitter cold on our ridgeline hikes and a quick visit to the lighthouse. Our most tasking hike was on the exposed Tomales Point Trail, flanked by the ocean on one side and Tomales Bay on the other. We had the peninsula pretty much to ourselves, encountering only one other hiking party and herds of Tule Elk during this six hour trek.
About three miles into the Tamales Point hike, we were rewarded with a truly spectacular view of the rugged coastline. We made a mental note of our vista point, opting to shoot the scene on our return hike in the late afternoon light under less windy conditions. On our return hike, we were blessed with wonderful lighting, but no break in the wind.
< Kehoe Beach, River to Sea, Nikon D800E 1/20 at f/18, ISO 160
Our Bear Valley Trail hike to Mt. Wittenberg (1,407 feet) was also quite a challenge, given gusting winds and cold spitting rain. We started on this venture too late in the afternoon, making for a rushed hike and little time for serious photography. Still, the sights from the Bear Valley summit trail remain vivid in my mind’s eye, drawing me back for a return visit to Point Reyes.
A special thanks to my brother and fellow photographer, Brian Reinkensmeyer, for his great company on yet another unforgettable photo trek. We’re both grateful for times like these, out in nature with cameras in hand.
< Tamales Point Trail View, Nikon D800E, 1/160 at f/16, ISO 320
< Tomales Bay, First Light, Nikon D800E
1/25 at f/22, ISO 500
Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer
Landscape photography techniques, photo expedition travel planning and hiking tips.