The Scripps Pier: “This is the absolute best place in San Diego to take pictures.”
  • The Scripps Pier: “This is the absolute best place in San Diego to take pictures.”
  • Image by Frank McKenna

Title: Frankie Photography

Address: blog.frankiefoto.com

Author: Frank McKenna

From: La Jolla

Blogging since: 2011

Post Title: 15 Best Spots to Photograph San Diego

Post Date: July 25, 2012

First, Some Tips for Photographing San Diego

Sunset is glorious in San Diego, take advantage of it. San Diego is almost always best photographed within an hour and a half of sunset until about 10–15 minutes after sunset. You will notice that most of the places I recommend photographing, I recommend photographing around sunset. The golden hour here in San Diego is spectacular and your pictures will be so much better if taken at that time.

Give yourself 30 minutes to walk and set up for each location. If you’re going to be doing sunset shooting, you want to give yourself 30 minutes to park, walk, and set up at a location.

Get a wide-angle lens. If you don’t have a wide-angle lens, I recommend them for San Diego shots. Most of the best San Diego pictures you see on the internet and on postcards were probably taken with a wide-angle lens. I prefer anything 24mm or less for wide-angle shots.

Use slow shutter speeds and a tripod. While shooting at sunset and dusk, you should consider setting your camera to manual mode, slowing down your shutter, and using a tripod. You can pull in some great light from the sky or buildings and capture a great look.

#1 – Scripps Pier La Jolla (Best time of day: early morning and sunset.)

My favorite spot in all of San Diego is Scripps Pier. Not only do you have the fantastic sunsets and the huge pier, but there are also loads of great shots to be taken of people and wildlife here. When you look around, everything is a shot, and everything is bathed in a beautiful golden glow. If you can get to Scripps on a day when the tide is low, the receding water just glistens on the sand and reflects everything like a mirror. This is the absolute best place in San Diego to take pictures. I recommend parking at La Jolla Shores Beach and walking the half-mile up the beach to just under the pier.

#3 – Centennial Park, Coronado (Best time of day: sunset and nighttime.)

This doesn’t seem like one of the parks that you have heard about in San Diego, but it happens to be the location where most of the best San Diego cityscape photographs are taken. The park is located right on the bay and has panoramic views of the city of San Diego. You will need to park down the street at the public parking provided in the shopping center or on the street, as this park does not have its own parking. For the best shots, venture down to the beach located on the left-hand side of the park. You can get unobstructed views of the entire city.

#4 – Sunset Cliffs, Ocean Beach (Best time of day: sunset.)

Ocean Beach has one of the most underrated yet most beautiful coastlines in all of California. If you want to catch some amazing sunsets and great photos, head out south of the pier to a place called Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. What makes this place excellent for sunset photos are the sandstone cliffs, which turn golden in the sunset and look beautiful against the blue Pacific. Be careful if you are walking close to the cliffs, as they can crumble and send you and your gear to the rocks below.

#5 – Salk Institute of La Jolla (Best time of day: anytime.)

One of the most amazing architectural places in San Diego is the Salk Institute. It provides a photography opportunity in San Diego that is not your typical tourist destination. The only parking for the Salk Institute is on the street, since the lots are reserved for employees. I like the Salk Institute because you can take some great pictures of amazing San Diego architecture.

#7 – Crosby Street Park, San Diego (Best time of day: night.)

Crosby Street Park is a tiny little park that just happens to have a pier that extends way out into San Diego Bay, which allows you to get some cool shots of the Coronado Bridge that most people may not have seen. The park has lots of parking and this place is almost always deserted, so you will probably have it all to yourself.

[Post edited for length.]

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