Morro Creek Dunes (California)

I took the featured photo while looking for a nice and cozy place to have a late-morning picnic around Morro Bay. It was our first day, and we were enjoying a Pacific coastal road trip along California State Route 1. It was unusually warm for the end of January and what was even more surprising was the complete lack of wind. Pacific beach in the winter with no wind, go figure.

We were coming from Montaña Oro State Park, and I had already taken plenty of photos of Morro Rock from different perspectives, but I could not resist taking some more. I used the beautiful Morro Creek dunes as a foreground element of the composition, with the rock as the main attraction. I also loved how morning light gave a soft glow to Morro Rock.

Morro Creek Dunes are located in Morro Bay, California. It is one of my favorite beaches in California. The beach is situated on a bluff overlooking the bay and Morro Rock. The dunes are part of Morro Bay State Park and sit on the edge of Morro Bay. The dunes were formed over 4,000 years ago by wind and water erosion. The dunes are a popular spot for hiking, picnicking, and camping.

Montaña Oro State Park is adjacent to the dunes. The dunes offer panoramic views of the bay and an opportunity to experience the region’s natural beauty.

When shooting against the sun, I knew that the only way I could pull it off was to use  HDR photography processing. I took a sequence of 5 bracketed shots and later processed them for HDR in Photomatix.

Morro Creek Dunes (California)
USA. California. Morro Bay
Loc: 35.378528, -120.862712

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Travel Photography Blog: 3 Bracketed Shots ( -2; 0; +1; +2)
  • Camera: Canon 60D
  • Lens:  Sigma 17-70mm
  • Focal Length: 19mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Aperture: F13
  • Bracketing: 5 shots ( -2, -1, 0, +1, +2 )
  • Tripod: FEISOL Tournament CT-3442  – Check my FEISOL Tournament CT-3442 Review.
  • Ballhead: FEISOL CB-40D


Lightroom: import, tagging, and export to Photomatix
Photomatix: I used 5  photos to tone map image ( -2, -1, 0, +1, +2 ). 16-bit tiff image was exported to Lightroom. (Check my tutorial Before & After – HDR With Photomatix)
Lightroom: straightening, cropping, exporting as PSD image
Photoshop:  cleaning, contrast.
Photoshop Plugins:

by Viktor Elizarov
I am a travel photographer and educator from Montreal, Canada, and a founder of PhotoTraces. I travel around the world and share my experiences here. Feel free to check my Travel Portfolio and download Free Lightroom Presets.

4 thoughts on “Morro Creek Dunes (California)”

  1. Stunning image….. Just a bit over processed and the foliage in the foreground is a bit over sharpened but that’s just my opinion.


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