Land & Sea Photography Retreat – Dispatch from Baja California, Mexico

January 14, 2013  •  Leave a Comment


Baja California Land & Sea Photography Retreat


Close your eyes and imagine the most beautiful coastline – a desert landscape with crashing waves, swaying palm trees, and mountainous headlands. Then picture the most brilliant sunrise. Not on only one, but three consecutive mornings when the sky was on fire, if only briefly.


When I called on my National Geographic colleagues Bob Krist and Michael Melford to join me in Baja, they did not hesitate. Together with the guys from B&H Photo/Video in New York, David Brommer and Gabe Biderman, we gathered with interested guests to eat, drink, and learn photography. Little did we know that the stars had aligned to make this one of the most magical weeks ever.

The venue is world class, first on land at the Rancho Las Cruces Resort, then at sea aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird with Lindblad Expeditions. Two days of class time is rewarded with giant whale sharks, breaching humpback whales, acrobatic dolphins, and other-worldly landscapes. Teaching moments range from reviewing the basics of exposure and compensation to advanced light painting and star trails using long time exposures.

Tripods line  the old pier in the pre-dawn light. We experiment with f/stops and shutter speeds, repeating the mantra of "light, composition, and moment." The light – brilliant clouds at dawn, the composition – foreground rocks reflecting the colorful hues, and the moment – the motion of the waves swirling around the rocks at slow shutter speeds. Magic happens when it all comes together in the viewfinder.

Totally in the moment, we make pictures until the light fades, the aroma of coffee and huevos rancheros can no longer be ignored. We eat breakfast with a view of the Sea of Cortez with Isla Cerralvo on the horizon. If only every morning could be like today...

Ralph Lee Hopkins
La Paz, BCS, Mexico







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