Tips For Shooting Big Sur’s Pfeiffer Beach

Around this time last year I posted an article detailing the annual pilgrimage of hundreds of landscape photographers who have been making the drive up to Big Sur each December in an attempt to catch the magical light pouring through the keyhole arch.  My last attempt was in January of 2015 and I came back with mixed results.  The tide was much too low and I wondered if I came back on a day closer to the actual solitce if I would have better light.

The Keyhole Arch At Pfeiffer Beach

Big-Sur-12.67For a few weeks out of the year, a certain phenomenon occurs on an obscure stretch of coastline on the outskirts of Big Sur. From late November through the month of January,  the setting sun bursts through a natural archway in Pfeiffer Rock creating a veritable tunnel of light. Photographers from all over the world have traveled to this hidden beach with hopes of ideal conditions each year.  The rarity of the perfect shot is due to the fact that you need a clear sky out to the horizon at sunset, a high tide, and the fact that the best light is only available mid December through mid January.