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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