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California / Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography / Seascapes


December 9, 2020 — Pacific Grove, California

I’m slowly emerging from my cave…

A few days ago, the Muse and I headed south on a journey in search of Monarch butterflies and the manifestation of a high surf advisory — and for an Ambrosia Burger and glass of Santa Lucia pinot noir on the deck of Nepenthe 30 miles further down the Big Sur coast. We got there just a few days before sitting on the deck at Nepenthe would be curtailed for at least four weeks. Lucky us. But first:

No monarchs were to be found, which saddened us as photographers but even more as citizens of this planet. The rapidly dwindling Monarch population is an indicator, not unlike a canary in a coal mine, of worsening ecological conditions that are coming about as a result of climate change. Our neighborhood is planting milkweed to try to help the population regrow. If milkweed will grow in your area, please join us. Plant it where pets and small children can’t come in contact with it — it’s toxic — but please plant it.

The high surf advisory was accurate, however, and it afforded us a satisfying — I might even say thrilling at times — opportunity to capture some majestic waves. The trick is to find a low vantage point to emphasize the height of the waves without putting oneself in a position of becoming consumed by the wave, which puts a damper on the expedition and sort of defeats the whole purpose.

This is doubly important because it’s hard to enjoy an Ambrosia Burger on the deck of the Nepenthe when you have become part of the view.

P.S. The DeepPRIME noise reduction on DxO PhotoLab 4 has to be seen to be believed. This was shot at ISO 100, so didn’t need noise reduction — but when it is needed, it does wonders on shots even as high as ISO 25,600. No kidding.

(Nikon D500, Tamron 100–400mm f/4.5–6.3 Di VC USD. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 4.1; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

The Author

California based fine-art photographer featuring abstract, impressionist, and minimalist seascapes — near and distant — and floral-based images. Fine-art photography can be seen at www.amagaphoto.com All original images on this blog are copyright 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 Michael Scandling. All rights reserved. No images on this site may be copied, duplicated, reused, published, or re-purposed in any way without express permission from the copyright owner, Michael Scandling.


  1. I have fond memories of visiting Nepenthe with friends when I was a student at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey in 1977-1978. The world has changed so much since that time and it is somehow reassuring to learn that Nepenthe and the beautiful coast of Big Sur are relatively unchanged. I am saddened at the news that the Monarch population continues to drop. I was delighted to spot some a number of times this summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The word that you used, majestic, is the right one; all the energy of the water comes right through in the picture.

    If you know, how does the DeepPRIME noise reduction in DxO compare to that of Topaz DeNoise AI?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mission accomplished. Good to give that phrase some good spin. Glad that you didn’t get too risky. Although not quite as spectacular, I posted something on Sunday that had a bit of risk to it also. While shooting we did get the occasional wetting and behind us a bit was a photographer at water level who disappeared during a wave crash occasionally but all ended well for him.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a beautiful shot, Michael, and I enjoyed the narrative, too. I like the swell, the hint of turquoise, and the flying water. We stopped at Nepenthe for lunch a few years ago when we were flowing around those Big Sur curves – nice memories. I was just reading about efforts to get Monarchs listed as threatened, which might at least initiate more needed action. If not this year, maybe next year. It’s sad that you didn’t find any.
    There have been very high tides here lately and when they’re combined with intense winds, get out of the way! I had to retreat one day from a favorite spot because I could barely stand up, then I was hit from head to toe with a wave when I didn’t calculate my jump across a dip very well. Then the trail back flooded, so I had to slosh to the parking lot. The camera and lens were fine but the shoes took a week to dry out and a diluted bleach bath to get the smell out. 😉


  5. Beautiful picture, my friend, and good to see you around. I think about Dx0 from time to time but, like many other things, never get around to it; must say its reasonably priced though. Stay safe! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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