Exploring what the Central Coast has to offer!

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Fall on the Central Coast is one of my favorite times of year.   With the cooler temperatures inland we don't have as much marine layer and the starts of the winter storms and clearer skies lead to some of the most spectacular sunsets.  While I can't guarantee great sunsets, I promise you will have a great time and learn new ways to approach your photography.

This will be a small class size and I expect it will sell out quickly.  This is my backyard, the area I am fortunate to live, and I can't wait to show it to you.  Please read on to discover more!

Workshop Details

For 2023 this will be conducted on November 17th-20th  You would plan to arrive mid-day on the 17th and we would conclude around noon on the 20th.

November 17th-Day 1

Plan to arrive in San Luis Obispo by noon.  We would do a lunch at my home in SLO, followed by a welcome overview of what to expect in the coming days.  In addition to the welcome and the opportunity to get to know your fellow participants we will do a gear shakedown / gear check in terms of what you have brought with you and any last minute modifications we should look at making.  From here we will set off for the Oceano Dunes state park.

Oceano Dunes

Oceano State Park is a favorite location of mine to visit and to explore.  We will enter from a lesser known and shorter access point to the marvelous sand dunes.  This section of the park is closed to vehicles and we will largely have it to ourselves as we explore the different dunes, textures, and other features.   Golden hour begins around 5:30 and from then till the end of blue hour an hour later we will have lots of opportunities to work with the different types of lighting. 

Black & White Opportunity Galore

Sand Wave

As part of this exciting first day, we will have the opportunity to photograph the Milky Way as the Galactic Core will be visible for a very short period of time.  This is where we will be able to use tools like PhotoPills to plan our images.  

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After we conclude with our Milky Way photography around 7pm it will be about a 30 minute walk back to our vehicles and a 40 minute drive back to San Luis Obispo.  You will arrive back at your hotel or AirBnb around 9pm.  This will be our latest night, the good news is this is not Central Coast Sunrises, it is Central Coast Sunsets.

November 18th-Day 2

Day 2, we will pick up right where we left off!  Sunrises this time of year are not usually that great and occur around 7:30am.  For Day 2, you get the morning (The early morning off) and we will plan to meet at the house at 9am for coffee and snacks.  The morning session we will talk about what we experienced last night, I will show you how to process and blend your images from the night before, and we will go through a little more on PhotoPills before we set out!  

Elephant Seals of San Simeon

Our first stop will be the Elephant Seals of San Simeon.  These ocean giants have found safety and security along the Central Coast the Piedras Blancas Rookery has one of the best displays you will find anywhere. 

Starting in November, adult male elephant seals start to arrive on the shore. Adult males will stake claim to female pupping areas on the beach. When another adult male challenges a pupping location, a fight for dominance ensues. Elephant seal bulls can reach 16 feet in length and weigh up to 5,000 pounds. Watching these enormous animals fight for dominance is quite a spectacle.

After spending part of our afternoon with the Elephant Seals at Piedras Blancas we will head just a little further north to a relatively unknown cove I call Arroyo Hondo.  We will have a 15 minute walk down into this large bay where we will be free to explore the sea stacks, sand features, and other parts of interest.  

Our own little private cove

The Sentinels of Highway 1
Goldilocks Wave

After photographing and absorbing all the beauty of the sunset in Arroyo Hondo we will head for dinner 30 minutes away in San Simeon before returning to San Luis Obispo.  

November 19th-Day 3

Our last full day together will not disappoint!  We will start with a Stover Sunday tradition.  Sunday Bacon (other options available for vegetarians) and breakfast at my home at 9am before we jump into looking at our images from the day before and tackling some new techniques.  After we have completed our time processing our images we head out to Morro Bay.

Otters of Morro Bay

The sea otters of Morro Bay are a very social group.  They typically hang out in two different areas and we will spend time with them in these two locations, capturing them in their native environment.  After being immersed in their cuteness, we will grab a snack before heading to the grand finale.  Montana De Oro State Park.

Montana De Oro State Park is my favorite place on the Central Coast for photography but also to connect to the raw beauty of nature.   From large waves, to interesting coastal features, and few people there is something for everyone here.  Where we go in Montana De Oro will be dictated by tidal, surf and weather conditions.  

Montana De Oro State Park

After photographing at Montana De Oro we will head to Kuma Sushi in Los Osos for our final dinner together.   You could expect to be dropped at your hotel by 9pm this night.

November 20th-Day 4

On this morning, our last morning together we will try for sunrise in a favorite place of mine.  Los Osos Oaks State Park.  These majestic old growth oak trees will speak to you at different levels and in different ways.  After this optional photographic outing, we will meet up at the house for a final review of images, final thoughts, and around 12 you will be free to return home or continue your exploration of the coast.

Los Osos State Park

The Details

Dates: Friday November 17th @ 12pm till Monday November 20th at 12pm.         

Cost: $1475, 50% due at signup.  Remaining 50% due 90 days out.

Class Size: Limited to 7  students

Includes: Complete access to all tutorials on naturephotographyclasses.com, a free 16x20 metal print, a 1 hour prep meeting before the workshop, and a 2 hour meeting after to talk about post processing and share your images with your fellow workshop participants. 

Inclusions / Exclusions:  Includes all meals and snacks when we are together including 3 group dinners, boxed lunches, Sunday brunch, and water / soft drinks.   Does not include alcoholic beverages, travel, or lodging.  I can take 3 passengers with me comfortably in my Jeep and would only need one other driver.   

If you are willing to be a driver I will pay all of your gas and provide you with a private 2 hour session where we can cover whatever topics you wish to cover.  

Frequently Asked Questions

1) What is the level of fitness required?

This class is designed to be physically not demanding with the largest distance covered being about 3 miles roundtrip.  Most of the locations are off trails and aside from the sand dunes will be flat.  For the one section climbing up from Arroyo Hondo I am happy to carry your photography gear.

2) What is the level of experience required?

If you are a beginner photographer I might suggest spending some time on understanding the fundamentals of the exposure triangle, and how to photograph in RAW mode, to be able to maximize your understanding of the techniques I will be teaching.  If you want a private session before the workshop, please let me know and we can work something out.  Your skills matter less than your desire to learn.  With a class size of 7  people, there will be plenty of time for hands on 1n1 instruction.  

3) Where should I stay?

San Luis Obispo has lots of great options for all budgets.   Some of our favorites are Hotel Cerro and Granada located downtown but close to my home there is also Marriott or Hampton Inns along with lots of AirBnb's.  My home address is 411 Woodbridge Street, San Luis Obipso, CA 93401  so you can see what is close.  

4) What about transportation?

Each morning you will need to get to my home in San Luis Obispo either via Uber / Lyft or with your own vehicle.  I will be able to drop you at your hotel if it is in San Luis Obispo or return you to my house and your car.

5) What if I want to bring my spouse?

For the group dinners including the breakfast at the house, your spouse is invited.  For the group dinners it would be a supplement of $75 that you can pay at the time.  There is no charge for breakfast on Sunday.  

6) What is your cancellation policy?

Once you pay I don't refund...  But I don't keep any of your money.  It just gets credited towards a future workshop if you should cancel.  If you need to work something else out, please just email me nic@stoverphoto.com or give me a call 805-550-0192.  

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