Open Road to the Mountains (California)

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The California State Route 1 coastal drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco has 2 distinctive parts: one is flat with beautiful dune beaches and wide coastal plains; the other is mountainous with twisted roads and picturesque shoreline.

USA, California, Cabrillo Hwy
Loc: 35.7300, -121.3144 #1.

Halfway through the drive, a few miles after Cambria and San Simeon, just after passing the sea lions’ beaches at Piedras Blancas, the road takes a turn inland and goes uphill. At this point, you do not see or expect anything, but when you reach the top of the hill suddenly a very different view unfolds in front of you: a completely open landscape with the straight road and the mountains as a backdrop. This view serves as a reminder what awaits you over the next few hours.

This spot is definitely one of my top 10 favorite travel photography locations along California State Route #1.

Deconstructing Featured Photo

HDR Bracketed Shots: Open Road to the Mountains (California)

Processing: HDR Processed

Lightroom: import, tagging, export to Photomatix
Photomatix: 4 exposures (-2, -1, 0, +1) used to tone map image, 16-bit tiff image was exported to Lightroom (Tutorial: Complete HDR Workflow)
Lightroom: straightening, cropping, color correction, export as PSD image
Photoshop: cleaning, sharpening
Photoshop Plugins:
– Topaz Detail was used to enhance details in foreground elements (grass, ice)
Topaz DeNoise helped to eliminate noise in the sky and water

  • kpolitowicz says:

    Good work. I remember our jaws dropping when we saw exactly this view in the rear-mirror 🙂

    • I did this drive from south to north and when I saw this view in front of me I almost drove into a ditch 🙂

  • I must tell you this is an well described post which going to help all, specially landscape photographers. Thank you for sharing your own experience and idea here, its helpful. I was not familiar with Topaz plugins before but going to explore it by reading your another article mentioned above.

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