Downtown Waterfront – Long Beach, CA


Address:  880 S. Harbor Scenic Drive, Long Beach, CA 90802  [ Map It ]

Harbor LightsA great place to shoot at night, the harbor at Long Beach where the Queen Mary calls home (Queensway Bay), provides for a picturesque and very colorful photo of downtown Long Beach and the attractions across the bay. The light reflections on the water can really turn your photo in something magical.

Shooting from the edge of Harry Bridges Memorial Park or along the sidewalk on Harbor Scenic Drive in front of the Reef Restaurant will provide for a good vantage point in which to capture the action from across the bay.

Capturing the Shot: For best results, try shooting an HDR photo. Two steps under exposed, one normal shot, and then a final two stops over shot. Combining all three photos to create an HDR photo will bring out all of the great lighting, colors and water reflections that the area has to offer. See photo above.

In order to get some good light reflections on the water, you need to find a night that has relatively no wind. Wind will cause ripples on the water and instead of the long reflection lines on the water, like the photo above, you will get short fat lines that all blend together and break up rather close to the shore due to the ripples. Ripples on the water will start to appear when the wind gets to be above 5 mph and become very noticeable at 10-15 mph and above. A dead calm on the water is ideal for this particular shot. Check the weather in the area in advance and select an evening with clear skies and wind below 5 mph. For the picture above, the wind was 2 mph with gusts up to 3 mph and I had to wait for over a month for such conditions to appear, so be patient.

Now, you might want more wavy light reflections on the water, and if that’s the case, then a 15-20 mph wind would give you that shot.

Choosing a night that has a clear sky is also important. The marine layer all along the coast will roll in towards the evening hours. The marine layer brings with it low clouds and makes for a very wet shoot, so try to avoid those nights. Also, any kind of clouds will cause light pollution to reflect off of them and cause the clouds to capture a color of their own which very well might take away from the subject of your shoot. It’s best to pick a clear night.

There is not much parking in the area, save paid parking at the Queen Mary. The park does have a few free curbside parking spaces available. The park being closed the night of my shoot and curb parking there was temporarily marked “No Parking” so I pulled into the parking lot at the Reef Restaurant just across the street and parked in the far corner nearest to the park.

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Cabazon Dinosaurs – Cabazon, CA


Address:  50800 Seminole Drive, Cabazon, CA 92230  [ Map It ]

The Cabazon Dinosaurs are a well known roadside attraction off Interstate 10 on the way to Palm Springs. In the early days of the dinosaurs, nothing much was out that way. Now, the dinosaurs are surrounded by palm trees and buildings, making photographing them more difficult each year.

If you visit in the winter months, some great snow capped mountains can be had behind the dinosaurs, making for a great shot.

Capturing the Shot: The dinosaurs make for a good subject on a clear day if shooting up towards the sky capturing their upper torso and forgetting their feet, unless you have a model posing.

Also, because Bob Hope Airport in Palm Springs is just a hop down the Interstate, jets will often leave their contrails across the skies. They don’t seem to dissipate too quickly, so try to make them work for you. For instance, when I was shooting the T-Rex, a contrail was present in the sky, so I just framed my shot so the contrail appeared to be smoke coming out of the dinosaur’s mouth, giving him a Godzilla appearance (see photo).

Try visiting the nearby Wind Farm in Desert Hot Springs for some shots of windmills after your through photographing the dinosaurs.

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Wind Farm – Windmills – Desert Hot Springs, CA


Address:  Lat 33.910235, Lng -116.562491  [ Map It ]

Like the Cabazon Dinosaurs, the wind farm in Desert Hot Springs can been seen off Interstate 10 on the way to Palm Springs where windmills scatter the desert landscape. Starting near Whitewater and continuing into Palm Springs, by checking the frontage roads, you can get up close and personal with the windmills, which offer some unique perspectives. Whether shooting up at one individual windmill or zooming out for a wide angle view of many of them, you can depict the enormous size of these windmills or the green energy they provide.

Capturing the Shot: Clear skies offer up a bright blue sky against the contrasting mountains and windmills. Too cloudy of a day or overcast and the windmills will seemingly merge with the sky making for a rather bland photo. Because of the high winds in the area, you can often sit until ugly clouds pass by in relatively quick order.

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