An Afternoon of Peace and Solitude at Stornetta Public Lands

I’ve been up to the Point Arena Light House several times, but I haven’t yet hiked around the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands.  This area, donated by the Stornetta Ranch family, includes 1665 acres which was newly added to the California Coastal National Monument.  This is a dramatic part of the north coast, with sharp sandstone cliffs, small near-shore islands, sea arches and sinkholes, lies just south of the light house.  I wasn’t sure exactly what I’d find so I just took my 24-70mm f2.8 lens along.  I fully intend to go back with my 14-24mm and 70-200mm lenses to fully capture the beauty and uniqueness of this place.

This is a desolate place, and seems even more so because it’s still shows the signs of recent cattle grazing.  I was lucky on this trip because there was virtually no wind; it was heavily overcast which set quite a somber mood for the day.  I love hiking the bluffs on days like this, especially when I’m totally alone like I was on this day.

Small Island of Stornetta Lands
The images I show here reflect the feel of the day as much as the terrain and the visual elements of the coastline itself. The first image shows a flat island just offshore.  Small islands like this dot the coastline along this stretch and were once part of the contiguous shoreline until erosion took its toll.  This image pretty much captures the mood of the day.  You can also see a small sea arch in the island showing the light from the western side of the island showing through.

PA-Stornetta Monument

Stornetta Lands looking North
The next two images show more of the rugged coast and some of the many other geologic features common to this area.  The small buildings in the second image are part of an old LORAN installation that’s about to be decommissioned.  You can also see the PA Light House off in the distance in the third image.

View towards PA Lighthouse
In the fourth image I decided to go black and white because the color was just too muted and I felt the B&W reflected the mood here a little better.  I also thought the geologic features stood out much better in the B&W version.  (Also, my latest edition of Outdoor Photographer had a special feature on B&W photography for landscapes, so I had to give it a try.)

Spanish Moss
The last image captures one of the Monterey Pines along the bluff.   All that remains here is the moss and fungi that have taken over this tree.  To me it added to the overall mood and bleakness of the place.  I think there is great beauty in the  desolation here.  Go spend a day there and I’m sure you’ll see what I mean.  I’m definitely going back as there’s just so much more to see.

Equipment: Nikon D3s; Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 lens.  I used NIK Software’s Silver Effex Pro2 for the B&W conversion.

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3 Responses to An Afternoon of Peace and Solitude at Stornetta Public Lands

  1. Chris Wendt says:

    Real interesting. This site was not acting properly when you first put these up, and I could not open the piece or reply. Amazing scale, especially on the second image. I agree with your choice of B/W for 4th image. I am chuckling that you read (and heeded) the article in Outdoor Photographer!

  2. Chris Wendt says:

    Oh, what b/w conversion method did you use?

    • Hi Chris thanks for the feedback. And I often post after reading some interesting article in OP. It kind of motivates me to get off my duff and go shoot. B&W is still a new endeavor for me but I always liked it. I used Nik’s Silver Efex Pro2 for the conversion. I first edited in PS (and using Nik’s Color Efex Pro) then did the conversion. This is a really great place to hike, and I’ll go back especially to try to capture some the sink holes…there’s great scale there as well.

      Take care, and thanks again,


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