Behind The Shot: Paths Of The Sea

by | Aug 31, 2016 | Stories & Expeditions | 5 comments

Even on a Photography Missions Trip, I can’t seem to get away from landscape photography.

I envisioned the shot that eventually became “Paths Of The Sea” days in advance. After a great week of mission work in Tijuana, the missions team planned to cross the border from Tijuana into San Diego on Sunday to go to church State-side. Why go through the hassle of crossing into the States just for a single event in the morning? Why not make the most of it by enjoying the afternoon/evening exploring one of God’s most diverse ecosystems on earth? Mentioning and incorporating the idea several days in advance helped to hurdle the logistical challenge this idea posed. And though not all ideas like this do come to pass, this time it did! And so that’s how a few of us—the photographers, some outdoor-inclined mission team members, and myself—found ourselves with keys to a vehicle in southern California on a Sunday afternoon with nothing planned till after sunset.

Read more about what happens during a Photography Missions Trip in A Story About Mexico Culture . . . Told With Pictures!

In situations like this, it’s nice when you are the one who happens to be put in charge of the itinerary. It wasn’t long before we were on our way up the coast to Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve. This area seemed to be the kind of place this group would enjoy. A quiet, epic sort of place that offered plenty of trails and space to experience God’s creation firsthand.

We took our time. It was a Sunday afternoon. On the trail down to the beach, we stopped to photograph a unique geologic formation and learn about creative perspective in photography.


The sun disappeared behind the bank of clouds on the horizon as the time neared sunset. I wasn’t sure if the sun would ever peep out again before it actually set. Not all sunsets over the Pacific Coast are amazing.

Read about my last attempt at a sunset in Behind The Shot: Lost At Sea

But even when I didn’t know if the sun would ever peep out again, I searched around for different compositions that would accent it if it did. I juggled a few different compositions, not liking any of them until I eventually came across this arrangement of rocks. I positioned myself so that the reflection of sunlight across the water would point right into the gap between the rocks. It wasn’t exactly the best composition, but that’s when the sun decided to come out again, so it just had to do!

In the beauty of that moment, oh how my heart throbbed in worship to the Creator in that unceiled cathedral of creation . . . “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained . . . what is man that you are mindful of him? You have made him to have dominion over the works of your hands: all sheep and oxen, the beasts of the field, the fowl of the air, the fish of the sea, and whatever passes through the paths of the seas. O Lord our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth!”


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Paths Of The Sea
Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve
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Note to PRO Members: Just as I did in this shot, learn the details in how you can begin making the most of your travels by following the 19 questions outlined in the latest PRO-exclusive Advanced Topic: Improving Your Photography By Making The Most Of Your Spare Moments.

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  1. Joseph Camuso

    Great post, James! I always enjoy reading the “behind the scenes” 🙂

    • James Staddon

      Good to know!! I love reading others’ behind the scenes shots too, so I guess that’s why I take the time to do so with my own. 🙂

  2. Faith

    Who is that in the first photo on top of the rock or whatever it is?

    • James Staddon

      Oh, just one of the folks who went with us on the hike that evening. Mr. Dresback. He was having fun and made for a great subject in some of the others’ pictures.

      • Faith Metz

        Okay. Thanks.


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