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The Secret Cave of 1,000 Steps Beach



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My brother Justin lives in Laguna Beach, California, so I decided to pay him a visit over the weekend. He showed me this amazing and somewhat secret cave mostly...
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My brother Justin lives in Laguna Beach, California, so I decided to pay him a visit over the weekend. He showed me this amazing and somewhat secret cave mostly known by locals just south of 1,000 steps beach in South Laguna Beach. It was quite a memorable experience just getting to the cave. I was carrying all of my camera gear in my F-Stop Loka Backpack and was wearing Chaco sandals. We got to the end of the trail on the shore where it turned into really steep and wet rocks with about a 5-foot drop off into the ocean. I slipped on the rocks trying to get down into the waist-deep ocean and fell face first into the water and rocks, totally submerging myself and my backpack full of camera gear. I scratched up my leg, foot, and both hands, but surfaced just fine. I was absolutely blown away when I opened my pack to find that all of my gear was totally dry. Thank you F-Stop Gear! As you can see, the cave was absolutely worth the tumble. Hopefully you can make out my brother Justin modeling for me in the distance on the slanted rock on the shore.
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Contest Finalist in Game Of Flares Photo Contest
Contest Finalist in Orange Tones Photo Contest
Contest Finalist in Finding Arches In Nature Photo Contest
Contest Finalist in Pastel Tones In Nature Photo Contest
Contest Finalist in The Golden Moment Photo Contest
Nik Software Collection
Contest Finalist in Arches In Nature Photo Contest
Contest Finalist in Windows In Nature Photo Contest
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Peer Award
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Color Explorer Photo ContestTop 10 rank
Color Explorer Photo ContestTop 10 rank week 1
Inspired By The World Photo ContestTop 10 rank
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Composing With Arches Photo ContestTop 10 rank
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Flares 101 Photo ContestTop 10 rank
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Orange Is The Color Photo ContestTop 10 rank
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Finding Arches In Nature Photo ContestTop 10 rank
Finding Arches In Nature Photo ContestTop 10 rank week 1
Pastel Tones In Nature Photo ContestTop 10 rank
Pastel Tones In Nature Photo ContestTop 10 rank week 2
Pastel Tones In Nature Photo ContestTop 10 rank week 1
Dusk Or Dawn Photo ContestTop 10 rank
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Color Theory Photo ContestTop 10 rank
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Colors and Mood Photo ContestTop 10 rank
Colors and Mood Photo ContestTop 10 rank week 1
The Battle Of Professionals Photo ContestTop 30 rank
The Battle Of Professionals Photo ContestTop 10 rank week 3
The Battle Of Professionals Photo ContestTop 30 rank week 2
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HDR Landscapes Photo ContestTop 20 rank
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Arches In Nature Photo ContestTop 10 rank week 1
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Monthly Pro Vol 16 Photo ContestTop 10 rank
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17 Comments |
charlesedouardgoodridge
 
charlesedouardgoodridge January 22, 2016
Write a comment
charlesedouardgoodridge
 
charlesedouardgoodridge January 22, 2016
This is Breathtaking! What an incredible Shot...
nina050
 
nina050 February 17, 2016
Well, I would say your finalist win was well worth it after all that!!! Beautiful!! Congrats!
Richmond
 
Richmond February 22, 2016
Congradulations Beautiful!!
PhotosbyJLR Platinum
 
PhotosbyJLR February 23, 2016
OMG! Fabulous!
waynecook
 
waynecook February 27, 2016
Stunning and Congrats!!!!!!
EdithNero
 
EdithNero March 09, 2017
Excellent capture ????????
LaineeReeshi Platinum
 
LaineeReeshi March 11, 2017
Very nice! Congratulations!
douglasroth
 
douglasroth August 13, 2017
Thank you
Byronfairphotography PRO+
 
Byronfairphotography September 24, 2017
Beautiful scene. / Voted
Hany73
 
Hany73 October 03, 2017
Very nice
pradiptachakraborty
 
pradiptachakraborty October 04, 2017
fantastic
ElynG
 
ElynG October 20, 2017
Amazing capture
stevenmeredith PRO+
 
stevenmeredith January 22, 2018
Join the conversation. Add a comment or even better, a critique.
kathymuhle PRO+
 
kathymuhle June 03, 2018
Fantastic story and a stunning capture, good to know everything turned out fine.
Jgswayngim1
 
Jgswayngim1 August 18, 2018
Wow. Stunning. Awesome shot. Would’ve loved to be a fly on the wall
terrymccollum Ultimate
 
terrymccollum November 29, 2020
Love the colors, Stunning
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Behind The Lens

Location

I shot this photograph from a cave on the beach near Laguna Beach, CA. It involves some hiking along the beach as well as some waist-deep wading through ocean water on sharp rocks.

Time

This was taken at sunset in the month of September right before the sun crested the horizon.

Lighting

The golden light was bouncing off of the cave wall behind me, which offered a nice soft light on the walls in front of me and on the rocks at my feet. Additionally, I wanted the sunbeams to light up the waves that were cresting over the rocks on the shore, so I waited to time my photos for when that light was optimal.

Equipment

Nikon D800, Nikon 14-24 f/2.8, Feisol Tournament 3442 Carbon Fiber Tripod.

Inspiration

My brother Justin (shown in the photo modeling in the distance) lives in Laguna Beach and so I wanted to get a photo that captured the essence of his lifestyle there on the ocean while honoring the awesome natural light created by the cave. When he took me to the cave (and after I took a spill into the ocean with all of my camera gear), I knew immediately what photo I wanted from the location. Thankfully all of my gear survived!

Editing

This is actually a blend of about 5 different photos - one for the sun (f/22), two for the cave light, and two for the different waves - all blended together by hand in PhotoShop.

In my camera bag

Nikon D800 and the Nikon trinity. I also like to use the Nikon shutter cable release for my night photography.

Feedback

Plan ahead and perfect your settings before the good light arrives, keeping in mind what you want your final photograph to look like. For example, I knew I wanted to weave in the various waves I saw cresting in front of me, so I captured several photos of the waves so I could pick from the best to blend in later.

See more amazing photos, follow mattpayne

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