Big Sur California in Black and White

I’ve long heard amazing stories of the scenery and breathtaking roads of Big Sur California.  My friend Natalie and I were visiting the Bay Area over the weekend and thought it’d make sense to drive down there for a day or so.  What we both realized is a day was far too little to spend in a place like Big Sur and we immediately started figuring out ways to come back and stay much longer.  I’ve seen some pretty amazing scenery but I’d put Big Sur right up against anything, even Norway and/or New Zealand!

Where is Big Sur California?

Big Sur is just south of the town of Carmel, California, roughly a 2.5 hour drive south of San Francisco Airport.  We rented a Silvercar at SFO and ventured south.  The drive was pretty in its own right (although a bit rainy), so often I think of California only in terms of its cities and it does the landscape an injustice, it’s truly one of the beautiful places in the world.  We decided to stay at the Hilton Garden Inn in Monterey, north of Carmel by a few miles.  The hotel was actually really nice for a Hilton Garden Inn and we got a good night’s rest.

The next morning we packed some water and made our way south into Big Sur!  We got an early start to potentially catch a sunrise but the fog was too thick to see anything of note there.  Very quickly it was obvious that it was going to be cloudy and rainy the whole day, so I thought “why not make these pictures black and white?”  I don’t do much black and white but it’s a great challenge from time to time.

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Big Sur Fog

It was hard to stay focused on the road because of the beautiful scenery!  Once you get into Big Sur you almost feel like you’re in a completely different area, there’s no cell phone service and little radio reception, just you and the road.

The first stop that really took our breath away was Rocky Creek Bridge, built in 1932, a stark and dramatic look at man’s attempt to overcome boundaries set by nature.  Most take pictures of Bixby Creek Bridge but I personally liked Rocky Creek Bridge more.

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Rocky Creek Bridge

We kept driving, stopping when we felt like it, no pace or rush.  I think that’s what I liked the most about Big Sur, it slows you down.

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Valley of Fog

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Lone Lighthouse

We didn’t have time to make it all the way south to San Simeon to see Hearst Castle, since we had plans in San Francisco later that afternoon.  We turned around in Lucia and started back up Highway 1.  We stopped and hiked to an overlook of an amazing beach and waterfall.  The waves continually pounded at the rocks and sent water everywhere!

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McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (thanks to Ric at www.loyaltytraveler.com for telling me the name in the comments below!)

Everywhere we looked there was something else to see.

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The Shore

The smooth streaky clouds in the sky even randomly changed a bit, just to make sure we noticed and got a picture of them as well!

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Random Cloud Formation

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Notice the road leading you to the shoreline at the bottom right

We were almost back to Carmel when I saw an amazing shoreline with all manner of rocks interrupting it.  I’m showing you both the color and the black and white version (let me know which one you like best in the comments!)

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Shoreline in Color

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Shoreline in Black and White

Our last stop was at the Rocky Creek Bridge for some more shots now that it was a bit brighter outside.  I had my friend stand on a nearby outcropping to give some scale to the scene.

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Rocky Creek Bridge

Final Thoughts

I want to go back!  Soon!  I don’t think a week would be enough time to hike all of the trails and see all of the sights, but I am darn sure that I missed quite a bit.

 

What did you think of the pictures, was black and white a nice departure from the usual?  Which picture was your favorite?

8 Comments

  1. Andy,

    I enjoyed your Black and White shots. Sometimes the drama of Black and White is so much more artistic and captivating than the normal reality of colour.

    Reminds me of the good old days of Black and white film processing and printing.

    Good work.
    Trevor

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for the comments Trevor!

      Reply
  2. Welcome to my part of the world. I live up the hill from Hilton Garden Inn Monterey. Used to be a full Hilton, but so many complaints the hotel was changed to HGI.

    The waterfall is McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

    January is actually the month with the least amount of fog in these coastal parts. Come in July and August and the sun may be shrouded for days on end.

    Enjoyed your photos.

    Reply
    • Thanks for stopping by Ric and for the details you provided (going to update my post with it)! I have a nasty habit of just sitting there with my jaw on the ground and don’t look around for any identifying marks or signs that explain what I’m seeing 🙂

      Reply
  3. I can’t decide if I like the color or B&W — they’re both beautiful and convey different senses of the locale. Good job!

    Reply
  4. Yes, fantastic work. Reminded me of a black and white photography class I took many years ago. You would have been king.

    Reply
  5. I enjoyed this post. For the longest time, Big Sur and that whole stretch was my top ranked spot in terms of amazing scenery. So many gorgeous vista points and we also took advantage of our time there. We weren’t there for long either (2 nights), but we ended up doing a lot of activities which include visiting Hearst Castle and horseback riding. It was so refreshing to be disconnected from the everyday life and just be connected to nature. Reading your post reminds me of just peaceful those moments were…

    As for the pictures, I like the color one. The black and white shows the contrast but the color one shows the majestic natural colors of the water, which I prefer. Great job either way.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for your comment! It echoes my thoughts to a tee.

      Reply

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