pacific beach

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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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If you had asked me last year, I would have said no to anything that had to do with getting in the Pacific Ocean in the winter time. There’s something about really cold water that scares me and I didn’t even want to put my toes in it. Seriously.

But this past trip was different. Our cousin, Vincent actually signed up for surf lessons while we were in San Diego and asked Andrew and I if we wanted to join him. We both immediately said no. I don’t know what Andrew’s reasons were, but mine was definitely because of the cold. I mean, it was cold enough at night time in the regular, above water air I can’t imagine what the water was like swimming in it.

Well Vincent finished his lesson and I asked him about the temperatures. He said it wasn’t even cold at all and I didn’t believe him. He kept on going on about how fun it was and that he wanted to do it again. I must admit that I wanted to surf but it really was the cold water that was holding me back.

So it turned out that the next morning I was out photographing the sunrise at Windansea beach in La Jolla and I got splashed by a huggggeee wave. I wasn’t paying attention and I got soaked. I packed up all my gear and went immediately back to the car. But before I got back to our airbnb realized that Vincent was right. The water wasn’t that cold. LOL. So Andrew and I ended up taking a surf lesson and it was so fun. LOL. I would totally do it again but only if the water is warm.

My camera settings for this image is F4.5 at 1/4000th sec at ISO 500 with my Sony A7II with my 70-200mm.

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While I was shooting the sunset on Pacific Beach in San Diego, CA, my eyes were strictly on the water. I was watching people run in and out of the ocean and the waves were glowing in the sunlight when Andrew stopped me and told me we had to go watch this bubble guy. I had no idea what he was talking about but I stopped shooting and started following him to the boardwalk. Apparently this guy comes out everyday to create these bubbles. I don’t even think he had a tip jar. He just does it for the pure joy of it which is so awesome. And he had a huge crowd surrounding him as well. Kids of all ages wanted to check out this bubble guy.

We only stood there for a few minutes but you can tell he was making everyone so happy. But don’t be fooled, these bubbles were no joke. These kids got so soaked when they bursted on top of them. It was kind of funny. He even had some dogs barking at him too.

My favorite part of this image is the actual bubble itself. I love looking at the left hand side where it has already burst and in the center, above the sun where it has so many light variations.  It’s so interesting to look at the different ‘stages’ of the bubble. But I also really like the children that are in it. They add so much to the story, especially with their hands.

Props to this bubble guy for doing this everyday. I’m sure he has so many stories to tell just from standing in this one spot.

My settings for this image is F/25 at 1/125th of a second and ISO 125 on my Sony A7II and my 28-70mm lens.