Above: Stairs leading to the Beach Trail at Torrey Pines State Park - the next day. Prints available - https://edward-fielding.pixels.com/featured/beach-trail-torrey-pines-state-park-edward-fielding.html
A couple months ago I was in the San Diego, California area. My wife had a conference to attend in La Jolla so I tagged alone and traveled around the area creating photographs.
One day I decided to explore Torrey Pines State Park. It was a warm February day, a quite balmy 60 degrees which felt amazing having just left the fridge Northeast that covered in snow and ice.
I was enjoying myself hiking the sandy trails and taking in the beautiful scenery. Looking down from the cliff at the dolphins and seals playing in the water and enjoying some sunshine.
I wasn't taking many photos as the sun was high in the sky and the cloudless sky was producing a lot of harsh shadows. Instead I shot some time-lapse video on my GoPro Hero 7 and simply enjoyed the fact that I was outside in the middle of winter with only a t-shirt.
I made my way down the cliff to the beach trail. The beach trail is a direct return trip back to the parking lot along the water and underneath the tall cliffs. I only went about a few yards before having second thoughts.
It was high tide and the waves were coming up close to the edge of the cliffs leaving only a few feet of dry yet slipping rocks. I saw a guy coming around the bend.
"Is it passable ahead?" I asked.
The guy said "How new are those shoes?" looking down at my new sneakers I bought for the trip.
He said his wife volunteers at the local hospital and after he drops her off he comes over to Torry Pines State Park to walk and to pick up trash. He had a bag of water bottles, hats and wrappers tied to his belt.
Looking at his wet feet and wet trousers, I decided not to risk going further with my camera bag.
Heading back to the stairs near the cliff I came upon a kind of comical scene. A young guy was struggling with a spindly travel tripod trying to get it to stay still in the wet sand.
The big waves were rolling up the beach and undermining one of the tripod legs. As soon as he adjusted the tripod, the wave would roll back to the ocean, the sand would dry and the tripod would settle into another cockeye position.
At this point it was high noon. The sun was beating down creating the worst light of the day.
"Oh shoot" he muttered.
His wife looked on helplessly from up on a large rock above the water, clutching his camera bag.
"I forgot the filter" he cursed to himself as he struggled to attach his large Canon camera and red L lined lens to the tripod plate. At this point the tripod looked like it would topple into the surf at any moment.
I got the impression that there was some shot he saw on Instagram that he had traveled all this way to capture. Seems "the shot" must have included a long exposure which would require a heavy duty ND or Neutral Density filter of at least six stops in this full sun.
Since the tide kept coming in, I decided to high tail it up the stair case before the entire beach disappeared. Watching from my vantage point I watched the scene unfold below.
Sure enough, the camera was set on the small skinny tripod, the shutter was pushed and then a giant wave rolled in an knocked the whole thing into sand.