Report from Point Reyes

During the first weekend in March, Jim Nisbet and I participated in the  Point Reyes: A Chimney Rock – Headlands Photo Retreat lead by professional photographer and teacher/leader, Gary Crabbe. Moreover, this particular workshop was also a kind of experiment in that it was limited to just five participants plus the leader and we stayed in the old Chief’s House (where the Coast Guard officer in charge of the Lifeboat Station, when it used to be active, lived with his family). The group of folks that attended the workshop were very congenial and the photo retreat was an outstanding success; everyone had a productive and fun time. This post includes just a few of the images I took over the weekend.

I should add that the excitement of this workshop was further enhanced by the weather forecast promising on-and-off rain throughout Saturday and for much of Sunday. Like many others in the Bay Area we even got to experience a brief hail storm on Sunday.

Friday evening, however, was still dry and after a short hike up to the Point Reyes Headlands we were all able to obtain some wonderful images like the (iconic) shot of the Eleven Mile Beach at the top of this post and the sunset shot below.

Sunset at Point Reyes Headlands

On Saturday, we were sometimes lightly showered upon but were very fortunate to find several dry spells between rain squalls. The image below is also taken from the headlands but in the early morning just after the sun appeared and began to play hide-and-seek with the clouds; the photo orientation is with the ocean on the left and behind and the camera facing back toward the hills and Drake’s Bay. The white building is the Chief’s House where we were staying.

Chiefs House

The image below gives the viewer an idea of how quickly the shower cells were proceeding across the landscape. We watched, and took photos of the headlands, as a slot of sun moved closer toward us followed by the rain that was just behind it. To give you an idea of the speed of the weather, this bit of sun had been on the next ridge away from us just two minutes earlier. If you look very closely you can just make out the Point Reyes Lighthouse about 1/3 of the way up on the ridge furthest away.

Rain rapidly approaching at Pt. Reyes Headlands

Old Pt. Reyes Lighthouse

After breakfast on Saturday, we drove over to the Point Reyes Lighthouse and spend several hours there.

Here’s an image of the old lighthouse. It is no longer in operation and has been replaced by an automated high-powered light mounted on a smaller building just below this structure.
Making the long climb up the over 300 steps

In order to view this lighthouse up close, visitors must walk down the 308 steps (plus several not-quite-as-steep concrete ramps). Unfortunately, those same steps and ramps must be climbed once your visit is over. Lots of heavy breathing at end of this climb.

Near the end of Saturday, after returning to the Chief’s House, we walked over to the Elephant Seal Overlook. Unhappily our good luck ran out and the rain dumped on us. We wisely decided to call it a day and hurried back to our lodging to dry off and have some dinner.

On Sunday morning we returned to the Overlook and took our last set of photos for this trip. Here’s one, not of the seals but a somewhat moody image of the sun just breaking through the clouds over Drake’s Bay and the old Point Reyes Fish Docks.

Morning sunrays breaking through at Drake's Bay


  1. These really are awesome images, Ced. That light on the headlands will linger with me for a lng time as the one that got away. It truly is a spectacular moment. So glad you were able to be part of this great weekend.


    1. First, thank you very much for your very kind comments.

      Second, you missing an image that your workshop participants got is a reflection of how you ALWAYS run your workshops — you focus totally on the success of us, often not even taking your gear with you as you lead us to yet another spectacular location. So, thank you most of all for that.


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