My June 2019 Photo of the Month is SC4, a coastal sunset photograph from Sunset Cliffs Natural Park in San Diego.
June is always a tough month for me. The onshore flow weather pattern is at it’s peak (what the locals call ‘June Gloom’). Sunset light dies out about an hour before as the sun hits the wall of marine layer. Warm weather has not set in just yet, so the monsoons in East County have not kicked in. Once that monsoonal weather kicks in, all of East County becomes my playground.
I checked my Lightroom catalog to confirm if my perceptions were accurate. I have Smart Collections created for the month, and beyond that, a custom Library Filter that tracks how I label and rate images within that Smart Collection. A few of the sunsets are okay, but my best images are from past travels out of State (See Blue Hen Falls and Alcove as an example).
June indeed is a tough month. I have also had career and parenting demands that have provided a lot less time to simply stand at a spot and wait for some light.
This is a simple coastal sunset. The clouds are low, so the light was best before the sunset, not after. I shot for 30 seconds with a 10 stop neutral density filter, although the water so calm its possible a faster image would have been smooth. I picked a natural rock shelf after a large crowd of people moved from the spot. The image is a tight angle. This viewpoint probably had 100 people there. There was none more important than my kid, who is now old enough to enjoy these types of things. She took several pictures with my iPhone, including a couple of me standing with my gear. She enjoyed watching the disc move below the horizon and tracked the sunset by the minute!
So, SC4 isn’t my favorite sunset of all time, but June is a challenging month for me, and I had the bonus of sharing the moment with my daughter. We went and got ice cream right after.
Sunset Cliffs is just South of Ocean Beach (known as OB), and has always attracted an eclectic crowd. Most people would identify OB with hippies, and Sunset Cliffs attracts our surfing community. I generally enjoy those locals. In addition, we have the tourists, which is even more prevalent that the ongoing transition of Sunset Cliffs from an upper class beach community to a maze of AirBNB rentals continues.
I still had the same parking area available that I have been using for the last 15 years. People crowd the parking lots, yet, there are overlooked areas with easy parking and easy access to the cliffs, even on a busy Summer weekend.
Just getting to the viewpoint, there were at least 4 groups of people smoking THC-type products in their cars and along the walking areas. While the ordinance focuses on tobacco, any kind of smoking is banned in all San Diego City and County parks and beaches. I was trying to think of the last time I saw a non-lifeguard peace officer doing any kind of patrol in the area (I couldn’t think of one).
This isn’t meant to be old-man whining, but as our most popular areas continued to be overwhelmed by locals and tourists alike, we need to invest more in making these areas a positive environment for our families. I reflexively shy away from other areas like Windansea, La Jolla Cove, Torrey Pines, and La Jolla Shores because of parking challenges. I may need to rethink that in the future. Parking in the Windansea neighborhood is sometimes tough, but at least I can I feel better about taking family there.
As always, thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy the image.
T.M. Schultze is a San Diego-based photographer, traveller, and writer. He writes, photographs, and draws things of the outdoors that have inspired humans for thousands of years. He co-authored the Photographer’s Guide to Joshua Tree Park which can be purchased here.