Sunrise at Little Sur River Beach (California)

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This is one of the most scenic spots along the California State Route 1 in the vicinity of Big Sur, not far from Monterey.

But at the same time, it can be challenging to come up with the interesting composition shooting Little Sure River Beach. First, this is private property and it is not accessible to the public. Second, there are only a few spots along the road where you can stop and park your car.

After the second or third trip to the Big Sur, I realized that most of my photos taken from around this place looked very similar. This is when I decided to try to come up with something different when visiting Big Sur in the future.

California. Cabrillo Highway. Big Sur
Loc: 36.331944, -121.889722


Normally, I visit a northern stretch of California Route 1 in the sunset hours just before the sun is about to submerge in the ocean illuminating the mountains with the soft, golden light.

This time I arrived at BigSur around sunrise and of course everything looked different.

I took 3 bracketed shots (-1, 0, +1) on a tripod.


Once again, I used Lightroom HDR processing workflow. First, I used the new Lightroom 6 HDR Merge tool. In Lightroom, I selected 3 bracketed photos and sent them to Photo Merge HDR.

Lightroom merged 3 bracketed photos and created a new HDR image (DNG).

For the processing, I used a Lightroom preset based workflow, using Point Lobos present from my Landscapes Collection (you can always download free lightroom presets here).

Processing: Lightroom HDR Preset Based Workflow

Lightroom: import, tagging, HDR Merge, preset based processing (Point Lobos preset from Landscape Collection)
Photoshop: contrast, color correction. I used the Stamp Tool to remove debris from the beach..

Photoshop Plugins: