Photographing Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Photographing Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is a small park on the coastline of Big Sur in California. A couple of hours south of San Francisco, Big Sur is one of the most beautiful coasts I have seen. Remote and scenic, this part of the Californian coast has several state parks and beautiful vistas.

The Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is not to be mistaken with Pfeiffer Beach and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, which are located a few miles north on Highway 1.

Originally part of a wealthy estate, this portion of land was donated by the owner (Helen Brown) to the state to become a protected area dedicated to Julia Pfeiffer Burns. Though I can absolutely see the appeal of having a house there, I think this was a very noble gesture that benefits us and nature.

The main feature of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is McWay Falls, a waterfall that goes right in the ocean, as seen in the image above. To me, this is pretty unique, and paired with the scenic surroundings, it is just magical.

There is unfortunately no beach access in the park, thus limiting photographic opportunities. Interestingly, the beach did not exist originally. There was a huge landslide nearby. The debris were thrown in the water and ended up as sand near the waterfall, creating a beach.

The area being protected, you can only access the trail and overlook, which reduces the amount of vantage points. It is pretty hard to find an original shot over there. I decided to go for long exposures, which is one of my favorite techniques these days.

Sunset is definitely the best time to shoot at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. The golden light just shines over the rocks and the waterfall!

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