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Capturing Santa Cruz: Behind the Scenes of Landscape Photography

Under the Pier

Seacliff Pier, serendipitous landscape photography, coastal, beach

Hey fellow photography enthusiasts and Santa Cruz lovers! I thought I'd take a moment to share a little bit about the unpredictable nature of photography, especially when it comes to capturing the perfect landscape shot, and how sometimes, luck can unexpectedly be on your side.

Photography is an interesting business, involving a delicate balance of experience, skill, luck, and good fortune. Whenever I set out to capture a shot, I already have a pretty clear vision in my mind of what the final result should look like. I usually scout the location beforehand, checking out the angles and even using my hands to mimic the viewfinder to get a feel for the scene.

However, when it comes to landscape photography, there's always one unknown variable – the light. Unlike in a studio where you can easily adjust the key light, backlight, or other elements to get the perfect shot, the direct and ambient light outdoors is always unpredictable. You might be lucky and get the perfect lighting, or it could turn out to be a wasted outing.

Sure, there are some tricks to forecast the light, but that's a topic for another post.

More often than not, I know exactly what I want from a shot in terms of angle and composition. Yet, capturing that perfect landscape photo is as much about luck as it is skill, with luck playing a huge role in the available light. That's why we call it "chasing the light."

Most of my shots require a lot of persistence. I rarely get the perfect shot on the first, second, or even third try. Instead, I often find myself returning to a location multiple times, waiting for the light to work its magic and gift me with a shot I can be proud of. But with "Under the Pier," things were different.

I had a potential commercial client who needed a specific shot for a particular wall space. They required a "portrait" shot instead of the usual "landscape" shot, and at that time, I didn't have any local landscape shots in portrait orientation. So, I grabbed my camera and headed down to Seacliff Beach. As soon as I walked under the pier, I saw the shot and captured it. Just like that, "bada bing, bada boom."

The story behind "Under the Pier" is a testament to how sometimes, things just fall into place. While it's not always the case, it's a nice reminder to enjoy those easy wins when they come our way.


Greg Milligan
Photographer & Owner
Santa Cruz Art Prints


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