The Beach Bucket List: Victoria Beach

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Last week, when I was researching beaches for my photoshoot, I came across a this article listing the top beaches in Laguna Beach. I’d been to many of them but I couldn’t say I know much about them other than random visits back in the 90’s when I was a bikini-babe following Toby around.

I decided it should be my duty to get to know all the local beaches. I mean, I live here, right??! It’s a crime to live here and not be an expert. What if someone came to visit and I didn’t know which street to take to get to this or that beach? What if there was a perfect place to watch the sunset or some little known cave or secret passageway that I could show others as the tour guide to their adventure?! I love adventure. And there is no time like a pandemic to do some outdoor research fun. In fact, it’s pretty much the only thing we can do for fun.

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I wrote down all the beaches on our family wipe-board and informed the family that this was our new bucket list. One by one we’ll knock them off our list and become beach experts. That’s the plan! We’ll see how it goes.

The family was mildly interested.

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The first beach we decided to visit was Victoria Beach. I love this beach. I’ve been to it ages ago and waded in the little cement pool that sits at the base of a pirate tower. Bug even found some old pictures of me:

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Look at me being all Skinny Minnie back then. Can you believe I hated my body back then too? What a complete waste of time.

When we visited this last weekend, the concrete pool was still there but it wasn’t holding water. Maybe it still does when the tide is high. I’ll have to check back and see. When we were there the tide was out but sloshing in and around the many tide pools in the rock outcroppings.

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The water rushesd in and out between little rocky crags. Payam is a true risk taker and took a few leaps from rock to rock while the rest of us decided to avoid danger in favor of a longer but more safe route around these crags. Payam must have been a billy goat in a former life.

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I was so happy to read about the history of the tower that Victoria Beach is known for. I’ve wondered about it forever. It turns out it’s just a spiral staircase that some wealthy person built from their private property estate at the top of the cliff down to the water. It’s not an actual bootlegger passageway, pirate tower or private room for Rapunzel… It’s also locked because it can get filled with water when the tide is high and become dangerous. We rattled the lock and admired the old-timey decoration on the iron gate.  It’s pretty cool to explore around it though and imagine the fun they used to have hiding pirate booty for kids… I’m sure it’s shown up in many whimsical and majestic photoshoots.

What fascinated me the most about Victoria Beach this time was the rocky ledges and the cascading dripping waterfalls.

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It was like Niagara Falls in miniature. Or maybe some other famous waterfall that I don’t know the name of. Anyway, I spent a lot of time trying to photograph these drippy waterfalls.

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Photographing a bright sky and dark rocks with shadows is tricky. It’s like you have to choose to make the sky look great or the murky shadowy parts great and blow out the sky. You can never really get both at the same time. Though I tried. Later with photoshop I cranked up the shadows and down on the highlights to get most of these shots. Right out of my camera they were mostly silhouettes.

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My supreme goal in this beach research project is basically to hunt for the perfect golden hour/sunset shot. It’s kind of like bird-watching or shopping at thrift stores looking for that perfect leather jacket that Brad Pitt in Fight Club. I’m basically a hoarder/collector/hunter-gatherer but instead of hunting for stuff, I hunt for photos. This is a win in my book because I don’t have space for stuff! But photos on the other hand can be collected forever. In face I have so many that I share them here and forget about them! Anyway, I digress.

The thing about beaches at sunset is you never know what you are going to get. Some days seem like they will have the most glorious sunsets ever and the sun sets in an ordinary yellow-white boring sky with very little fanfare. While other days can be dreary and turn into the most amazing jaw-dropping displays of oranges, pinks and purples that seem so bright you can’t even believe they are real. You just have to wait and see what you get. I suppose some weather forecasters and photographers have figured out the geometry and necessary cloud placement for a good golden hour sunset but it’s beyond me. To me it’s just a fun gamble.

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While Payam and I settled in for a nice wait for the sun to do it’s thing as it lowered, the kids scrambled around on the rocks, played in the water and explored.

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Some of us thought that sixty degrees was plenty warm enough to wear a bathing suit.  Fashion before comfort, and all that. I can’t really bag on Bug and her swimwear too much though because after you got used to the chill of the water, it was actually quite warm and invigorating. My blood is thin though and I like to stay clothed.

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The sun came and went and golden hour was captured. It wasn’t anything crazy but it was still beautiful and hit all my golden hour necessities.

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We came, we saw, we took photos of the sunset.

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It was yellow and white with a few dramatic effects when the sun went behind some clouds and turned the frothy waves into golden pools.

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Until next time! I wonder what beach will be next.

A Monday Blog

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I was going to just pop in here and talk about a market basket I bought on Saturday (I’ll get to that later) but then I started going through my photos (from my phone) and I realized I do have quite a few photos to share. I’m kind of sad that I’m the photo-sharing kind of blog and not the written word kind of blog but it is how it’s morphed to be over time. I used to write long rants and stories but now I start with photos and when I get down to writing I sort of peter off, distracted by all the pretty colors or something. Also life is different now. I can’t just rant about any old thing. I do have a lot of things on my mind that I’d love to rant about but this is not a private blog and people have a way of finding things you write about them. Also time is different now. I don’t find myself with hours and hours of time to rattle off into space. I think I use that time up with scrolling instead. Anyway! That’s neither here nor there. We all struggle with time.

This last Saturday was such a strange day. I’ve been a ball of anxiousness lately (what else is new?) and I had big shoot at the beach at the end of the day. There is nothing better to ruin your day than plans later. All day I stressed about that shoot. Did I need to? No! It’s not like my clients were difficult or that I haven’t shot people at the beach before. But if I have enough time I will use every minute of it to stress. It’s just something I do. I probably would do better if this photoshoot was sprung on me and I had no time to prepare. I prepare myself silly.

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Finally, the the hour to go down to the beach neared. I went early because I like being early and I was quite stressed about finding parking. The beach at sunset is typically crowded and my worst nightmare is rushing to a shoot and missing golden hour because you are parked too far away. It’s kind of like that feeling you have as a kid rushing home before the streetlights go on. So I rushed and I made it with plenty of time to spare but just as I was coming over the hill to descend onto the beach, I was met with a big puffy wall of clouds. No!!!!! Not bad weather! My heart sank.

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However, I also know that clouds can also produce the softest light and that is good for skin tones. A moody beach can be very photogenic beach. Sometimes even better than a sunny beach. So I found parking and set off to explore potential locations.

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It was crowded. People were everywhere. Thankfully, I have a pretty good lens that can blur out the background and some photoshop skills so it wasn’t too terrible. The sun lowered and what do you know, it peaked beneath the clouds! So I had soft light from the clouds, dynamic skies AND golden hour!!! What good luck! All that stress for nothing.

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But that’s how I roll. All the stress all the time. I don’t have any photos from actual golden hour to share because those belong to the client but let me tell you they turned out soooooooooooooo good. I’m really happy with them. I will be spending the rest of today photoshopping out people and hopefully send them off to the client soon and maybe if she loves them, she’ll give me permission to share a few in my portfolio. Wait, do I have a photography portfolio? No, I do not! But I should get one. I do find myself doing more and more photoshoots these days. I should at least try and make this camera pay for itself.

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All of these photos are just regular life photos taken by my phone. Phones take great photos these days! Won’t it be weird when we start paying photographers and they show up with nothing but their phone? I swear I could do just as good of a shoot with my phone these days as I could with my big-lensed camera. In many ways my phone is smarter than I am with a camera. The way it takes moving pictures and then averages the light between the lightest and the darkest shot to create a perfect shot where nothing is too bright or too dark?? That’s hours and hours of photoshop in the old days.

I digress. I’m sharing these photos because I’ve been taking more and more photos of myself and my crazy gray hair. I’m as confused by my new identity as you are. Who is this gray-haired forty-something and what is her style? Is she old, is she old trying to look young? Who knows! Do I lean into the gray hair grandma style or try to hold onto the patriarchal stereotypes of the sexy midlife fifty-something? Both?  Everyday I’m changing. Kind of like puberty all over again.

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What else is new? My parents brought my sister-in-law out to visit me. It was so good to see her! We haven’t seen each other in years and the pandemic makes any kind of get-together feel like finding a long lost friend. It makes my heart hurt how much I miss people. Yes, you say, didn’t you just shoot someone at the beach? I did but I wore a mask the whole time and it’s not the same. It’s hard to really talk with a mask on your face. It was really good to see her and hang out. She and my brother are splitting up which is terrible but they’ve had a good long run so maybe marriages have expiration dates. I don’t know. I’m just glad we are all staying close no matter what.

Oh and my car broke. Sigh. It is fifteen years old after all. It’s also had a good long run. I’ve been hanging onto it to give to Bug when she drives next year. YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT. BUG WILL BE DRIVING NEXT YEAR!!!! Toby and I bought that little car when she was six months old. And now they are both fifteen, turning SIXTEEN!!!  I love that car. It has been so good to me. I remember when I bought it everyone shook their head and said I was going to have so many problems with a high-maintenance German car but guess what? They were wrong! This car has been a dream to drive. It’s had very little maintenance (maybe I’m genuinely blocking it out) and I couldn’t love it more. So I’m taking this latest bad turn with thankfulness. I was due for some car trouble. I’ve had way too many years getting off Scott free.

The ignition broke. It just locked up and wouldn’t budge while Heather and I were parked in a Wahoo’s parking lot. Two TripleA technicians were called and nobody could get it out of gear. Finally, after some fancy fifty-two-point backing-up ballet, a tow truck towed it to the nearest Audi dealership and she’s sitting there waiting for a new part from Germany. It won’t be cheap but I should get her back this week sometime. Sigh…

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There is the market basket! See that thing? I don’t know if I’m a farmers market sucker or it it really is the most beautiful basket ever. I’ve seen them at farmers markets for years and always wanted one. I figured they were good for carrying all your produce because it’s a bit stiff and things can sit on the bottom and keep from getting smushed into each other like the usual plastic bags do. So I bought one. It cost me fifty big smackaroos. I think it was probably handmade in Africa so I hope some of that money is going back to whomever made it. But as I bought it and sucked on my green juice with a paper straw stuck under my mask, I saw two twenty-something boys staring at me and laughing. Were they laughing at me? Was I fulfilling some farmers market stereotype with my gray hair and my sloppy workout pants stuffed into Ugg boots? I probably was but they also were probably just laughing about a fart joke or something  because NOT EVERYTHING IS ABOUT YOU LITTLE HOO! Sigh… Anyway, I love it. I plan to go to the farmers market every Saturday from now on and get my money’s worth out of that pretty basket.

The rest of these photos are me trying out new styles with my new fifty-shades of gray coloring. I follow a mom style blog, The Mom Edit. Do you know it? It’s a fun way to halfway stay up to date with what all the kids are doing without embarrassing yourself completely. Although the older I get the more I am embracing embarrassing myself. Who cares about trends! Wear whatever you like! If you have confidence you can rock anything!

But when you don’t have confidence with silly things like, why do bootleg jeans look completely stupid with boots then The Mom Edit comes in handy with all kinds of tips. It’s good to know I’m not the only one struggling with certain styles. Like the no-socks trend!!! I am so glad it’s cool to wear socks again. I was sick and tired of cold ankles. It figures that when I’ve finally gotten rid of all my scrunchy thick socks and replaced them with those tiny no-see-em socks, it’s time to start buying regular socks all over again. I should have stuck to what I liked all along.

That’s all I got!

Happy Monday!