Inside the cove at San Simeon Point the wind is blocked by a headland planted with groves of eucalyptus and cypress. The ocean is calm and the air is still. Glassy waves rifle up the curved beach with tactical precision. Day to day business goes on at Hearst landing – parking cars, gift shop, tourists – all the trappings of a destination beach.
The windward side is another story: huge waves explode, grinding the ophiolite mineral formations into glistening black sand. This is the way California looked before Hearst built his opulent castle, before newspapers, radio and movie careers. Before the shore-bound Portuguese whalers built the picturesque wharf, before the Americans or even the Spanish arrived. This is California the way the gods intended it to be seen: through the viewfinder of a good medium format camera.
I shot this sequence on Kodak TMY 400 a few minutes before sunset in November of 1995 on my way back to LA from San Francisco. The film’s high speed allowed for hand-held camera (no tripod) and a reasonable shutter speed. My favorite photo in the sequence is C-43 (dead center). I just finished making three big prints of that negative (20×24). Which is your favorite?