At 770 miles long, 250 miles wide, with a land mass almost exactly twice the size of Great Britain, and ideally placed along the western coast of the United States, California is a treasure trove of photographic opportunities. Regardless of your photographic genre, California always has something on offer for you. This is a large part of why Hollywood is home to the movie industry. You don’t have to venture far from Los Angeles to find … you name it, deserts, mountains, coastlines, ranches, forests, and more.
Let’s take a moment to name, specifically, some of the great shooting locations in California.
Big Sur was made famous in the Jack Kerouac that bears its name, and this location doesn’t disappoint. Big Sur is a 90 mile stretch of rugged, sparsely populated, and extremely scenic coastline that stretches from Carmel to the north down to San Simeon in the south.
Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada
To some degree, Yosemite is the spiritual birthplace of landscape photography and provided Ansel Adams with a lifetime of inspiration. Yosemite National Park is part of the larger Sierra mountain range, an area that includes the highest point in the contiguous United States, as well as the Sequoia grove of giant redwoods.
A combination of golden granite rock formations and the unique Joshua Tree from which this park draws its name. The photograph taken by Anton Corbijn of the band U2 inspired the name and direction of one of their greatest albums.
Zabriskie Point, Scott’s Castle, and rocks that magically move across the desert. Don’t be frightened by the deathly name. Death Valley is an ideal shooting location in spring, winter and fall.
The rolling hills, Golden Gate Bridge, and gorgeous coastline make San Francisco a scenic destination in and of itself. But, just a short drive away you’ll find your way to Santa Cruz, Napa Valley, Calistoga, Point Reyes, and dozens of other incredibly scenic California treasures.
So many choices …
Because of the tremendous variety of shooting locations on offer, it’s best to carry of a wide selection of the more popular and versatile filters. The obvious choice for a California trip is the Master Filter Kit, Ken Kaminesky Signature Edition.
The Master Filter Kit has enough variety to cover pretty much any shooting situation. The 3 & 6 stop NDs are great for seashores and waterfalls. The 10 stop or the 10 stop combined with the 3 or 6 stops, makes for great long exposure shots. The 2 & 3 stop SE grads are so versatile that they can be used in California’s mountains or near the sea. And the polarizer is essential for California's bright blue skies and rich verdant foliage.
Not keen on going “all in” on the Master Kit? Try the Landscape or Travel kits. They offer a good selection of filters at a lower cost. The Landscape kit places more emphasis on grads, the Travel kit places more emphasis on NDs.
A La Carte
Here is a list of recommended filters for California and why you should use them.
- Firecrest ND 16 - Long exposure
- Firecrest ND 10 - Long exposure
- Firecrest ND 6 - Waterfalls and streams (glass)
- Firecrest ND 3 - Waterfalls and streams (glass)
- Firecrest SE ND Grad 0.6 - General purpose sky filter.
- Firecrest SE ND Grad 0.9 - General purpose sky filter.
- ProStop IRND 6 - Waterfalls and streams (resin)
- ProStop IRND 3 - Waterfalls and streams (resin)
- ND Grad Soft Edge 0.6 - General purpose sky filter.
- ND Grad Soft Edge 0.9- General purpose sky filter.
- ND Grad Hard Edge 0.6 - Sky filter for seascapes
- ND Grad Hard Edge 0.9 - Sky filter for seascapes
- ND Grad Reverse 0.6 - Sky filter for sunrise/sunset
- ND Grad Reverse 0.9 - Sky filter for sunrise/sunset
- Firecrest Circular Polarizer MC - Removing reflections, darkening skies, brightening foliage