Winter in Big Sur and the Monterey Peninsula

6th Annual Magic Light, Moonlight, and Pfeiffer Beach Arch Photo Workshop

 January 4-7, 2015


Wintertime in Big Sur means magical sunrises and sunsets. Because of the colder temperatures, the summertime marine layer disappears allowing for vibrant sunsets that can last for up to an hour! It also means that the sun has journeyed far enough south to allow for its low rays to provide the magical shaft of light through the famed Keyhole Arch at Pfeiffer Beach!

Photographers from around the world journey to Pfeiffer Beach in hopes of seeing this special light. We will have four attempts at capturing it during this workshop! Though the light is present from late-November until early-February, I have seen it at its most intense during this time period (due to the nature of the tides which factor into diffraction of the sun's rays). Each year my students have been treated to some of the most intense light I've ever witnessed pouring through the arch.

This year I have positioned the workshop to take advantage of the full moonsets from various locations. We will have two mornings to photograph locations that include the setting moon at varying heights in the sky over the ocean! These dates will also allow us to experience this area without the usual crunch of tourists as many of the other locations we will be visiting are also popular tourist destinations.

Typically, January is the wettest month on the Peninsula, averaging just over 4 inches of rain. Having said that, most Pacific storms are fast-movers. We will get some tremendous light on either side of the storms if they do arrive. These storms also serve to increase swell activity making wave images more dramatic. When the storms pass, I have seen some incredible skies with cloud formations that catch the color of the rising and setting sun. My motto has always been, "When the tourists are heading in, a nature photographer should be heading out. Wild weather makes for dramatic images!" From 2009-2013, we experienced no rain and average high temperatures in the low 60's.

NOTE: In 5 years of teaching this workshop, we have yet to lose a location shoot to rain!

This workshop will have an emphasis on field location shooting. It will also include two sessions of Photoshop training and a minimum of two image review sessions. Workflow training will include: RAW processing in using the latest version of Lightroom and complete workflow training in the latest version of Photoshop. Workflow topics will include: preparing an image for both print and web presentation, proper methods of setting white and black points, how to "properly massage the middle tones," color balance, localized tonal and color adjustments via luminosity masking, 32-bit blending techniques, blending multiple exposures via layers and masks, freehand masking techniques, seection of masks based on both tones and colors, proper sharpening and noise reduction techniques, etc.

Also planned is a night of star photography (weather permitting).  I will be assisted in this workshop by another qualified instructor.

Places we plan to visit include:

  • Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park                
  • Point Lobos
  • Weston Beach Tide Pools
  • Hurricane Point
  • Bixby Bridge
  • Pfeiffer Beach
  • Rocky Point
  • Garrapata State Park
  • Garrapata Beach
  • Point Sur and the Point Sur Lightstation


Cost: $1450.00 (Includes 3 nights lodging and breakfast at Carmel Mission Inn along with passes to both Point Lobos State Reserve and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park for one day)

Deadline: When workshop fills (limited to 12 students). 

Frequently Asked Questions: Winter Big Sur FAQ's

Lodging: The workshop will be held at the Carmel Mission Inn next to the Crossroads and Barnyard Shopping Centers. Lodging is included in price of workshop.

Meals: Breakfast is included in the price of the workshop.

Transportation: We will carpool to shooting locations. Participants are required to provide transportation to and from the workshop and from the airport. The Monterey Airport is only 15 minutes form the Carmel Mission Inn.

Travel and other expenses: Under no circumstances will I refund any charge not paid to me, such as (but not limited to) airfare, lodging, car rental, or meals. Though I’ve never had to cancel a workshop, and consider the possibility extremely remote, for your peace of mind I strongly encourage you to purchase travel insurance to cover any losses resulting from a cancelled workshop.

Cancellation Policy: Please click on link to read my Cancellation Policy.





   If you like my style of photography, that would be one reason to take a workshop with me. If you would like to learn more about me, click on the link.    

My Qualifications