After not having seen the ocean in over a year (Los Angeles beaches don’t count), Aubrey and I managed to make two visits in less than two weeks. It was nice to see the rolling waves and smell the fresh, crisp, and salty air again.

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Impressionistic Ocean Waves, Jalama Beach, California

Pacific Impressions : Prints Available

Big swells in the Pacific Ocean bring elegant waves to California's Jalama Beach. I decided to capture the light and action with a little impressionistic flair through a long lens.

Before Christmas we made a short trip to Washington to spend some time with family and friends, and made a trip to the Olympic Peninsula with some friends to enjoy the cold and wet atmosphere we’d been missing in Southern California. Wandering the wild Olympic coast brought back so many wonderful memories! Despite all the rain, we managed to time our outings such that we barely got wet (an remarkably impressive accomplishment, I might add).

For years I’ve wanted to make an image of the abstract tree-like patterns that form in the sand as water trickles from the shore back to sea. Finally on this trip I found a (small) scene I liked. The tones and shapes seem to merge the character of the Olympic Rainforests with the gloomy, mysterious, and calming coastline, into a single abstract visual poem of sorts.

Sand Abstract, Olympic National Park, Washington Coastline

Beach Forest : Prints Available

Abstract patterns on the sandy beach left by draining water resemble a mysterious forest, not unlike the forests that are found nearby. I took this on Second Beach along Wasington's Olympic National Park coastline. 

After returning home, we had an opportunity to see some more of the Pacific, this time in sunny California’s Montaña de Oro State Park. It being winter, the mountains of blooming golden flowers for which the park is named were mostly gray, but the coastline was as inviting as ever. The geology in this part of California’s coast is dominated by the Monterey Formation, which is composed of sedimentary layers that formed 6-16 million years ago. The layers tell a story of cycles of birth and death of diatoms – tiny single celled organisms – that flourished in the nutrient rich waters. Tectonic action compressed the organic material into the beautifully layered rock we see today. The organic origins also produced rich oil deposits, which are extracted by enormous offshore oil drilling rigs that line the coast.

Montaña de Oro State Park, Coast, California

Montañas de Oro : Prints Available

The last rays of sunshine illuminate the fascinating patterns of rock along the coast of Montaña de Oro State Park in California. 

Our route home took us along the famous Monarch butterfly grove near Pismo Beach, which I’d visited once before six years ago. Every winter, Monarch butterflies settle in to roost along the coast from southern California to Mexico. Once the temperatures warm up again, in Feb-March, they’ll start making their way north again. The butterflies take 3-4 generations to reach the northern United States and Canada, and come autumn, the great-great-great-great grandchildren of the butterflies in the Pismo grove will come back. Exactly how they manage to do this is still an active area of research, laden with confusing experiments, but they likely use celestial cues such as the position of the sun, polarization angle, topographical cues, odors, and potentially magnetic signals. Their numbers have dwindled substantially, and groves which used to harbor 100,000 animals now only have 10-20,000. Pismo’s estimated count is currently at 28,000. If you have some garden space, and want to help out these beautiful creatures, plant some milkweed for them this spring!

Monarch Butterflies, Pismo Beach, California

Flutterby's : Prints Available

Every winter (December-March) thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of Monarch Butterflies settle down for the winter on the Eucalyptus and Monterey Cypress trees near Pismo Beach. When temperatures warm up enough, they will embark on long journeys north, and their great-great-great grandchildren will make their way back to this same very spot. 

Finally, I’ll leave you with a miscellaneous abstract I took in our backyard a few month ago or so, of a large Agave, in case you hadn’t seen it yet on my website.

Agave, Abstract, California

Birth Marks : Prints Available

The fascinating abstract shapes of an agave acccented by a little late morning sunshine. Although there are lots of agave plants in Anza-Borrego, I actually took this one in my own yard in Pasadena, California.

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4 Comments to “Scenes from the Pacific Coast”

  1. A really beautiful set, Floris! Every one of these is awesome!

  2. Greg Norrell says:

    Great shots. Fascinating ‘sand forest’. I love the Olympic Peninsula.

  3. Navin Sarma says:

    Great set, love the oranges and purples of Montañas de Oro. What plugin do you use for the zoom in on your thumbnails? Love the effect.

  4. Thanks Navin! I use the Easy Fancybox plugin.


    – Floris