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Elephant Seals

I'm an organizer for a photo club in Orange County, and we would like to invite this club's members to one of our outings, a type of cultural exchange if you will. The idea is to bring together photographers beyond the ones in our group, maybe share tips and experiences. If it works out, perhaps we can do more in the future.

If you've never seen a 5,000-pound animal barking, fighting, giving birth, and piling on top of one another, this is your chance. The area around Cambria is one of the few places where you can get up close and personal to elephant seals, and January is the height of their activity.

We will visit at least their two main haul out points near Cambria. One is a bit of a hike (2 mi), but another is just a few steps from a parking lot. Both places allow us to set up our tripods a few yards above the elephant seals along the top of a sand berm the seals can't climb. We're too small to threaten them so they just go about their business without noticing us.

We can also poke around in the foothills of Big Sur for some nature shots, and the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse. Headed home Sunday, we can stop for photo ops in Morro Bay, Montaña de Oro State Park, Pismo Beach, Vandenberg, Santa Barbara, etc.

We leave work a few hours early on Thursday to beat traffic across LA and drive straight to Cambria, arriving by 9 PM. We take Friday off work to give ourselves a 3-day weekend, and drive home by Sunday night. Everyone should try to carpool. I have a minivan that seats 7.

Cost is $37/person/night. Accommodations are an entire 110-year-old hostel where we get our own common room to talk photography, a fenced garden with BBQ, a kitchen with dining area, WiFi -- and yes breakfast is included. The place sleeps 5 singles and 5 couples (15 people total), plus 1 tent spot. To guarantee your spot, please go to with a credit card.

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  • A former member
    A former member

    With 14 photographers from 3 clubs, we're down to just one spot left on the photo outing to see the elephant seals, and the Cambria forecast says the weather will be unusually accommodating for that part of California.

    January 7, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    This just in from the docent who will guide us. At the main haul-out that we will be visiting, the first elephant seal pup was born on 12/11/12 with lots more cuties popping out since then. Mating season is starting about now, so our trip will be at the height of all the festivities this season. For more info and a webcam of our destination, check

    January 1, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Interesting news! We will have our very own private docent from the Friends of the Elephant Seals for our outing. Not only will Babs Mondschein answer questions about these huge beasts, she will lead us to places few know of to see, understand, and photograph them.

    We still have room at the rented house for couples, and this is turning into a fine opportunity for photographers to bring their spouses.

    December 15, 2012

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  • A former member

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