ocean beach

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Another one from my California sunset photo editing spree. I love the way this one turned out and I remember like yesterday how it happened too.

Andrew had made plans to meet up with one of our friends for dinner and asked if I wanted to join them. I distinctly remember saying, “only if we can go shoot sunset first and then meet up with Sean.” He agreed and we ended up bringing our cousin, Vincent, and the cuddle pup, Frankie along. Since they were going to meet up in the Ocean Beach area, we ended up waiting for sunset around the pier.

All of a sudden the sky exploded! I don’t think any of us were expecting all this color and it was amazing. I remember trying to get more water in the foreground by getting close to the sand but since I wasn’t expecting this awesome sunset, I, unfortunately, did not bring my tripod. Some of those shots turned out well but it was this one that really caught my attention. Sometimes the best shots are when you take a step back.

Seriously, everyone on the beach and pier just stopped. It was like someone hit the pause button cuz everyone was just staring at the sky. This guy on the pier was no exception. I do remember there being a lot more people on the pier, but I tried to zoom in and crop the image so there was just that single silhouette.

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 1/100th sec and ISO 1600 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom.

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Being from the east coast, I love our annual getaways to the west. Sort of like how birds migrate to the south for winter, I like to migrate the west and soak up the California sun and surf. Plus any excuse for a fresh acai bowl, amirite?

To be honest though, San Diego is one of my favorite places to be. I love the vibe of the city, everyone is super friendly and there’s no shortage of things to do. You have the beach life but also a fun downtown area if the city is more of your scene. It’s all of that plus a super dog friendly city. Frankie loves taking his morning walks on the beach, you basically have to drag him off the sand.

This was our second year in a row visiting around the start of the new year, but I have visited many times in the past too. This will definietly not be our last time visiting so keep checking back as I update this guide.

So if you’re heading to San Diego, here are the best places to take pictures:

The Beaches

This past trip we stayed at this beautiful airbnb right at the tip of Mission Beach. It was the perfect place for us because we were able to enjoy the beach in a less crowded environment but still have views of the water.  (If you’ve never stayed at an airbnb, I highly recommend it. Especially if you’re going somewhere for an extended stay. It’s all the comforts of home while you travel.) Morning runs were peaceful on the boardwalk and Mission Bay was right behind us which made it fun to fly the drone for a satisfying perspective of land and water. But if we wanted to check out some of cool restaurants on Pacific Beach, we were just a 15 minute scooter ride away.

One of my favorite parts about Pacific Beach was standing at the end of Crystal Pier. The pier allowed for unique, overhead shots of the wave riders and definietly provided a lot of great photo opportunities. And you can usually find the bubble man around sunset. I love watching the huge bubbles fly in the air and can’t resist trying to pop some if they float in my direction. The kids love them too!

(left) view from Crystal Pier (right) bubble from the bubble man framing a palm tree

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THE FINAL COUNTDOWN 

It’s the last day of 2018 and I thought it would be fun to look back on the past year and relive some of my favorite travel moments from the year. It’s interesting because I do something similar to this every year and every year my favorite images are almost always different from others. I try not to let emotions play into the selection but it can be difficult. You’ll see what I mean 🙂

I had a fantastic year of travel and so blessed to be able to experience everything that I did. I’m lucky enough to have visited the Europe, Caribbean and of course different parts of America. So let me know what you think. Click on each image to read the original blog post:

drone, mavic pro, california, san diego, fiesta island, birds, selfie, fly, dji, bird, seagulls, practice, socal, water, beach, island, dog island

One of my very first drone images from San Diego. Taken around this time last year, I loved being in Southern California in the winter time. I got my drone at the end of 2017 so I was just practicing flying when I took this image. I really didn’t think much of it until I saw that bird fly below close to the water. With the placement of where I’m sitting and that bird, I love how everything lines up. Definitely expect more drone images from me in 2019. I’m hooked!

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Being a photographer, I’ve learned a lot of really random things. For example, did you know that the Washington Monument in Washington DC was built to sway with the wind? Yea, that’s just in case we get a really windy day and the tallest structure in our Nation’s Capitol won’t snap in half. Isn’t that crazy?

Well, staying in San Diego for two weeks was no different. I learned so much about the environment I was in. For example, tides. Living in Virginia, I’ve never had to be concerned with how high or low the water is but in California, this information is so crucial. After the first one or two sunsets, I found myself looking at tide charts and figuring out how all of this stuff works. To generalize, I found that low tide occurs around sunset. I don’t know if that’s true all year around, but it was true in January. So I planned all my photo ops knowing that if I wanted to capture full strength waves, it had to be at sunrise.

This image was captured right at sunset. The tide was low but there was still a whole bunch of water still on the beach from earlier in the day. It made for the perfect beach reflections. My favorite part of this image is the tallest palm tree on the right hand side. The top of the tree looks like it’s standing on a toothpick. It’s crazy because when I came here the next day at sunrise, the water was all the way up to the wall. There would have been no way I could have walked on the beach unless I had plans of getting wet in the water.

My settings for this image is F11 at 0.3 seconds at ISO 125 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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Out of the 7 days that we’ve been in San Diego, 6 of them have been foggy. It’s not foggy all day and it mostly comes around sunrise or sunset, the best times for taking pictures. I love the fog and everything but I thought I was coming to California for some sunshine.

But I am not letting any of the weather stop me from shooting. If I can’t photograph the skies, then I will try my best to photograph other things. This particular morning was not foggy but it was extremely cloudy. I found myself on the Ocean Beach pier just watching the waves go by. As the sun was rising higher in the sky, I noticed how beautiful it made the water look. I positioned myself on the pier so that I’d be shooting towards the shore and watching the back side of the wave roll by me.

My favorite part of this entire image is that little bit of light of aqua color on top of the wave. That was the color and light I was looking for while I was shooting this image. I don’t know but there’s something so fascinating about watching the waves roll by from up above. I love watching the patterns and repetition. Next time I need to bring the drone!

The surfer in the image was just an added bonus. I didn’t even realize he was there until I looked at these images on the computer. It’s pretty cool to see him in context to the wave. He looks so tiny compared to it.

My camera settings for this image is F9 at 1/50th of a second and ISO 400 with my Sony A7II and 28-70mm lens. I didn’t not shoot this with a tripod but was using the pier ledge to stabilize my camera.

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Before leaving on this trip, there were a list of things that I definietly wanted to do while in San Diego (minus photography – that’s a given matter what). Fish tacos, carne asada fries, and a dog beach. Good list, huh? Well, the first two things were scratched off the list the moment we arrived in California but being here for 2 weeks, I was like ‘oh we have time to go to the dog beach. We have can go whenever.’

Now that it is Monday and our last week here, I’m so glad we accidentally stumbled on to the dog beach at Ocean Beach. I took this image as soon as we parked the car and I stepped out. I thought it was so cool to see the palm trees look so small but the people who were walking along the trail look so big. It’s a pretty cool play on perspective and I think the connection between the adult and child is really sweet. As soon as I captured this moment, it reminded me of Max Wanger. He does a lot with couples and huge skies. This image for example.

Anyways, if you find yourself with a dog in San Diego, check out the dog beach at OB. Frankie loved it! At first he didn’t really know what was going on. I don’t think he’s been to a beach that big before. But once he started sniffing a few dog butts, he was in puppy heaven! A good time for dogs and dog parents all at once 🙂

Oh and if you’re not following Frankie on instagram, you should. He’s been posting pics of his California vacation too.

My camera settings for this image F4.0 at 1/800th of a second and ISO 200 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.