It's a Snap

Travel photo of the day: 'Firehole' at Pfeiffer Beach

Feb. 27, 2012 at 5:21 PM ET

Submitted by Aaron Keigher / UGC /
Firehole - Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, CA

TODAY Travel readers who enjoyed our recent post on the Yosemite "firefall" may want to check out today's photo from Aaron Keigher.

Keigher, a professional landscape and nature photographer as well as a frequent contributor to It's a Snap!, took this photo of a "firehole" at Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, Calif., during a November sunset.

"There's a beach in Big Sur that is just a little off the beaten path," Keigher told TODAY Travel. "There is not even a sign on the road to let you know that there is a beach there. Most people who drive up and down Highway 1 don't even know it's there and just pass on by. 

"If you are lucky enough to be on the beach at sunset, on a clear sunny day when you have the right tide, you will get a real light show. The sun, as it gets low in the sky, starts sending this warm light beam through the opening of the rock. When that light hits the crashing surf and mist ... wow!"

To capture this image, Keigher used HDR (high dynamic range), which he said can be an important tool for a photographer when used appropriately. "The bright sky and the dark rocks were way out of any camera's dynamic range. The only way to do it was to shoot two images, one with the rocks properly exposed and the other exposed for the sky and then blend them into one HDR image.

"The dynamic range of a camera is much smaller than the range of the human eye. That means that under extreme lighting, our eyes can make out a much broader range of light and dark then a camera can. By shooting in HDR, a photographer can broaden the range of his camera, and if done right, recreate an image that is closer to what the human eye actually saw." 

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