Category Archives: San Luis Obispo

Mission San Miguel Arcangel

Despite its convenient location along a well-traveled path, San Miguel Arcangel Mission is an often-overlooked photographic treasure. Due to recent earthquakes, the old mission used to be in a desolate condition. The mission church was long closed with the thread of an immanent collapse looming over it. Today the church has reopened, owing to extensive restoration projects funded through donations.

The decay that threatens the very existence of this mission also makes it one of the most appealing ones to photograph. Crumbling walls, rusting ornaments, and peeling paint give it an authentic old feeling that some other missions lack. While you walk through the old mission remnants, you can feel the age of the buildings.

Simply plan a stop on your next trip along Highway 101, you won’t regret it.

San Miguel Archangel Mission

How to photograph Pismo Beach

Legendary California sunsets, spectacular nature, and a diverse beach community define Pismo Beach, a family friendly community located on the Central Coast of California. Once known as the Clam Capital of the World, Pismo Beach preserves the spirit of the golden days, when daydreamers and thrill seekers met to surf the impressive waves and relax at the beach or in their hippie vans.

You can still encounter this rare breed of aging super hippies who stubbornly refuse to grow up. While observing them pass through life with a remarkable ease, I sometimes wish I could peel off my hard working skin and join them in their endless summer.

I enjoy sitting on the pier and romanticizing the bum lifestyle, but when the sun sets, it is time for me to wake up and work my camera to capture the beauty of Pismo Beach.

Pismo SB Pier

How to photograph Cambria

The upscale town of Cambria and its small tranquil fishing village neighbor, Cayucos, have retained most of their small town charm. Remaining independent from the influence of retail chains, restaurants, and the real estate development boom, these idyllic towns are perfect summer gateways. Located along the Pacific Coast, far enough from the bustling Southern California cities, Cambria is a perfect vacation destination, if you can afford the lodging.

Even if lodging is too expensive for your budget, a visit to both cities, a stroll along main street, a photography session in one of the many parks, and a short stop at the pier does not cost anything, leaving enough to sample the fine food in Cambria. The romantic old town area, hiking and wildlife viewing choices, and numerous quiet places make Cambria such a desirable place to visit and to photograph.

Bench Fiscalini Ranch

How to photograph Morro Bay

Morro Bay is a delightful fishing town with a sheltered harbor. At the entrance of the harbor towers Morro Rock, a volcanic granite dome and Morro Bay’s most prominent feature.

I used to bypass Morro Bay on my travels after I first moved to California. From a distance, it did not seem to offer much and the three smoke stacks of the local power plant are still an eyesore to me. Since then I have come to appreciate Morro Bay. The fishing boats, the sea life, and the dramatic sunsets that backlight an equally dramatic landscape have won me over. I love coming to Morro Bay and I am never short on excuses for another stop at Morro Bay. After all, it is conveniently located at the confluence of Highways 1 and 101.

Do not miss Morro Bay, a fantastic family destination with countless photography choices.

Morro Bay Marina

Hearst Park Otters and San Simeon Seals

The drive along scenic Highway 1 is one of my favorite pastime activities in summer. The drive in itself is immensely satisfying, even without stopping, yet each stop reveals something special. San Simeon is one of those stops that does not always reveal its beauty at first glance, but does fascinate countless visitors who dare to take a second look.

Learn about the enchanting wildlife viewing spot that brings you close to the majestic elephant seals, allowing you to observe and photograph them in their natural habitat. Discover the otters dancing with seagulls beneath the pier in Hearst Park.

San Simeon is famous for nearby Hearst Castle SHP. Many visitors see the Castle, but miss the real stars of San Simeon, the sea mammals.
San Simeon Pier

Montana de Oro State Park

Montana de Oro State Park is California’s largest coastal state park. Despite the 1 million visitors each year, you will be able to find solitude on the nearly 50 miles of trails. Diverse coastal landscapes, spectacular wildlife viewing, and outdoor sports activities make this park so popular.

Montana de Oro’s sweeping views of rugged coastal landscapes, dunes, and the chance to photograph wild animals make it very attractive for photographers. Unspoiled coastal landscapes are becoming increasingly harder to find, which makes the park such a treasure. The constant pressure from Sacramento’s budget threatens this jewel of the Central California Coast.

Sand Spit - Montana de Oro

How to photograph Avila Beach

Avila Beach is a secluded, charming beach community, hidden from the traditional tourist routes but close enough for a short side trip, if you know where to look and if you find the only access road from the highway.

The town has the best beach in the area. It is located in a natural harbor sheltered by mountains from three sides. The beach is the main attraction for most visitors, but it has a lot to offer to us photographers as well. I learned that this is also a favorite location of a fellow photographer, Bob Towery, who has produced some of his most astonishing work here; a fact that made it infinitely more difficult for me to write about this heavenly small vacation town.

I am thus just going to give an account of my impressions and instead encourage you to come here and discover this place yourself.

Pelican Flight

How to photograph Shell Beach

The affluent beach community of Shell Beach, north of Pismo Beach provides a convenient scenic stop along Highway 101. The sunsets here are more vivid than elsewhere, the air is fresher and the water cleaner.

Gorgeous ocean-view hotels, seaside restaurants, and large residences occupy the small space between Highway 101 and the cliffs of the Pacific Coast. Below these cliffs, tide pools reveal an intriguing variety of amphibian life.

Nearby, at Pelican Point and Shelter Cove, you will find a colony of Pelicans and have superb views of the sea and Pismo Beach.
Sunset at the tide pools of Shell Beach

How to photograph Hearst Castle

History buffs, media and television aficionados, marketing folks and photographers will find Hearst Castle a fascinating place to visit.

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