Santa Monica Pier at Sunset – Long Exposure

Long exposure setting

The Santa Monica Pier with Ferris wheel illuminated on a long exposure image

After a long day at work and much needed relax time, I grabbed my gear and headed over to the south side of the Santa Monica Pier. That special hour, just as the sun sets behind the wooden pier, is the best time to capture it.

I set my Nikon D5100 on a tripod and had the following settings: ISO 100, f/20, and a 30 second shutter. I also used a 52mm Bower ND variable filter to offset some of the harsh light from the sun overexposing the foreground.

By having the shutter open for 30 seconds it produced the cool lights on the Ferris wheel and smoothed out the water and waves at the shore. In a way the color of the water matched that of the Ferris wheel!

If you’d like to buy a print (or digital download) see it here on

Colorful Night Lights at the Santa Monica Pier

Long night exposure

Night lights at the Santa Monica Pier

The cool photo above showing the bright colorful night lights at the end of the Santa Monica Pier was actually taken by our other photographer Nacho. However, today he’s out celebrating his wedding anniversary so I decided to post it up for him.

Happy Anniversary Nacho and Lili!

Now to the photo. According to him, he set out to capture a long exposure shot of the north/west side of the pier.  The original photo he took needed a little editing so he asked me to work on it. You can see the original picture here.

In the foreground he had included part of the sand/beach, but I felt it detracted from what I thought was the more interesting part of the image, in this case the colorful lights and reflection. After cropping that out, I used Photoshop and Color Efex Pro to enhance the contrast and color just slightly.

The original image had the following settings: f/16, at 20sec shutter speed, ISO of 100 and a focal length of 36mm. Taken with a Nikon D5100 (now replaced by the Nikon D5300).

Singer Amy May at Santa Monica 3rd St. Promenade

Santa Monica 3rd St Promenade

Amy May singing for the public at the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica

Santa Monica Promenade on 3rd Street is lined with shops, restaurants and some very talented people. Amy May is one of those street performers that always draws a large crowd.

I don’t head out to Santa Monica too often, most of the photos taken in this area for SoCalDailyPhoto is Nacho, but not this time! With my camera in hand, I was ready to capture something cool.

But wait I wasn’t alone, Nacho met up with me after he got off work and we went on a short photo walk that included the park along Ocean Ave and the famous Santa Monica Pier.

The crowds were unusually large, not sure if it was the nice weather or due to spring break. Not only was the pier packed, so was the beach itself.

The highlight of the day was listening to Amy May. I’ve added a second photo below. Can you guess why I didn’t add it as the main photo? Yup, the eyes were closed. It seemed she likes singing with her eyes closed, most of the photos I took of her were this way. Oh well, maybe next time.
Continue reading Singer Amy May at Santa Monica 3rd St. Promenade

Cafe Monsieur Marcel Red Chairs in Santa Monica Promenade

cafe chairs

Cafe Monsieur Marcel at the Santa Monica Promenade as a lady looks on at the empty chairs.

As some of you might know, participates in a worldwide network of city daily photo blogs, known as At the beginning of each month there is an option to post a photo based on a “theme” that was previously voted on. This is our contribution to that theme day – “Cafe Chairs“.

I know it’s not exactly focusing on the chairs themselves, but both Ray and I were behind in our picture taking schedule, so I ran out to the Santa Monica Promenade. It was late and captured the (normally full) empty chairs at the Cafe – Monsieur Marcel.

What made it even more interesting is the poster of the tall woman on the right looking over the cafe, or was she looking over at me? Either way, I think it adds something to the photo.

Confusing Santa Monica Parking Signs

parking meter

The City of Santa Monica and it’s confusing parking signs.

Santa Monica has some of the strangest parking regulations, especially the metered street parking. Here’s a good example. And I assure you it’s not the worst, there are many others with additional restrictions.

According to the signs, I can’t park from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I also can’t park from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. on any day. But I am able to park for one hour at a time from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. everyday except of course on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Plus, it seems I can park for more than an hour if it’s from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. any day, except of course Wednesdays and Saturdays. However, if I do have a Farmers’ Market Permit, then I’m good for both Wednesday and Saturday.

Pheeew! Glad I sorted all that out before parking in this spot. Oh wait, I’ve been sitting in my car sorting out the rules for the past hour. Here comes the parking officer to give me a ticket!

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