David J Grenier
Fine Art Photography


David J Grenier Fine Art Photography

Mount Tamalpais, May 2015

My daughter, Michelle Grenier, invited me to join her on a photo shoot in one of her most favorite areas, Mount Tamalpais State Park. Michelle is an accomplished iPhone photographer, with over 100,000 followers on Instagram. https://instagram.com/michiesharine/.

She also conducts iPhone Photography Workshops and Mt Tamalpais is an area she frequently brings her student to, as discussed in this interview.


So I was honored and very excited to be asked to join her on a personal tour and of an area that she is intimately familiar with on May 2, 2015. This coastal area of Marin County, just north of San Francisco, is renowned for its rolling hills and coastal fog, which provides beautiful and unique opportunities for a photographer. We both had our fingers crossed for the a presence a good marine layer during the sunset, and our wishes were granted in abundance! According to Michelle, we had the best fog conditions that she had ever seen in all of the many times that she had been in the area. So below, you will find a few of the highlights of our evening together, and an iMovie that I created that includes a video that Michelle shot of the fog during the closing minutes of the sunset.

To begin, I have included extracts from the official Mount Tamalpais State Park brochure, in order to give you some history and background of the area.

Mt Tamalpais State Park

"Just north of San Francisco's Golden Gate is Mount Tamalpais.  It has redwood groves and oak woodlands with a spectacular view from the 2,571-foot peak. On a clear day, visitors can see the Farallon Islands 25 miles out to sea, the Marin County hills, San Francisco and the bay, hills and cities of the East Bay, and Mount Diablo. On rare occasions, the Sierra Nevada's snow-covered mountains can be seen 150 miles away.

Coastal Miwok Indians lived in the area for thousands of years before Europeans arrived. In 1770, two explorers named the mountain La Sierra de Nuestro Padre de San Francisco, which was later changed to the Miwok word Tamalpais. With the Gold Rush of 1849, San Francisco grew and more people began to use Mount Tamalpais for recreation. Trails were developed and a wagon road was built. Later, a railway was completed and became known as "The Crookedest Railroad in the World." It was abandoned in 1930 after a wildfire damaged the line.

Many people think the 2,571-foot peak is the remnant of an extinct volcano. However, geologists believe that Mount Tamalpais was created due to its location near the San Andreas Fault, one of the world's most active faults. Over time, the mountain has risen from the earth's crust, while erosion has left only solid rock exposed in the highest peaks and ridges."

Earlier in the afternoon we first spent some time walking around the Fire Lookout, built atop the East Peak, that at 2,571 feet provides a spectacular, unencumbered 360 degree view of the San Francisco Bay area. It is also the highest point of the State Park. We then headed down to the West Entrance and began to drive down Highway 1, and this is one of the first images that I captured of the beginning sunset and the marin fog that had rolled in that evening.


My second image was captured a little ways down the road at this point, where the low light and fog filled coastline was beginning to look simply spectacular.


Just about now it began to be clear to me that I was very fortunate to have Michelle as my guide, because there wasn't a great deal of time to 'discover' where to go and when to be there to capture the fog and the setting sun. Since she had been here so many times before Michelle simply knew this area so well, we were always in the right place at the right time!


The fog on this particular evening was driven in by a strong onshore wind, giving us spectacular volumes of glorious white waves of fog that filled the nooks and crannies of this Marin County coastline. Here is a shot of the setting sun shot from a beautiful vantage point that shows the vastness and depth of the marine layer on this beautiful evening.


The image below was shot from a place that Michelle directed me to, telling me to 'come over here, it's a great view'. This has turned out to be one of my top 5 most popular images of all time, and all credit goes to my daughter!


I would like to end this blog post by adding the last image I captured at the end of this amazing evening, a haunting image of the fog intermixed with the coastal pines that are abundant in the rolling terrain of Mt Tamalpais.


And last but not least, I have included a link to an iMovie that includes the images that highlight the evenings photo shoot, as well as a brief video of the rolling streams of fog that was captured by Michelle on an iPhone.