Favorite Photo Locations: San Diego & La Jolla / by John Clark

Long exposure of the San Diego skyline from Coronado Island

Recently I’ve had two trips to San Diego within a few weeks of each other, and this has given me a great opportunity to explore this beautiful area of Southern California. And while there are still a great many photo locations I have yet to explore and look forward to capturing in a future visit, here are five of my favorite (so far) locations around the area. There are plenty of others that I have seen and explored, but I would say that these are among the “must shoot” spots.

San Diego Skyline

I really enjoy taking skyline and cityscape images, and there are a lot of spots on the beaches along Coronado Island where you can get a clear shot of downtown San Diego. Head over the Coronado Bridge and set the GPS for Centennial Park. The location is across the San Diego Bay, so be sure to pack a longer lens to get closer view of the city.

Bonus spot: If the bridge itself is something you might like to photograph, a great point for that is Cesar Chavez Park on the city side of the bay. There is a pier that extends out into the water and allows for some unobstructed views of the Coronado Bridge.

The eroded cliffs make a unique foreground element

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

Possibly one of the most appropriately named areas in the city, this is an outstanding spot to watch the sun fall into the Pacific Ocean. Bring a wide-angle lens to capture as much of the uniquely eroded cliffs and sky as you can. This is quite a popular spot so watch the edge of the frame to make sure other people or elements don’t creep into the photo. The parking lot is also quite small and often full, so be sure to arrive early enough to find a place to leave the car before the magic hour begins!

Star trails and airplane landing lights make the Geisel Library even more unique

Geisel Library – University of California San Diego

Theodore Geisel is one of the area’s most famous authors, and his influence is all across the La Jolla area. Never heard of him? Maybe then you know his pen name – Dr. Seuss! His name adorns the main library on the campus of UCSD (there is a large statue of him with the Cat in the Hat at the front) and it is the home for many artifacts from his life and career. Weekends are a great time to photograph this unique building, as there are not as many students around.  Watch where you park as the signs are small (and hard to see in the dark) and the campus security will ticket vehicles in spots without the necessary permits 24/7. Just ask how I know!

The waves breaking against the reef at the Tide Pool areas of La Jolla

The Tide Pool Areas

There are a lot of large tide pools for exploration around Cuvier Park in La Jolla at an area that many people know as Hospital Reef. At low tides these make an interesting foreground subject, and you can walk along the reef to the edges and watch the waves breaking against the rocks. There are also a lot small pools eroded out of the rocks that hold water that could make a nice reflection at sunset if you are lucky enough to catch the clouds and color. Just be careful on the rocks as there are a lot of seaweeds that can be quite slippery, especially when juggling a tripod and expensive camera gear. This is another popular spot so watch the frame to make sure people don’t wander into the shot; I found that the majority of the tide pool hunters didn’t notice or didn’t care that there was a photographer with a camera on a tripod just a few feet away!

Sure felt like a pair of eyes were watching over me at the San Diego California Temple! 

San Diego California Temple

Easily one of the most recognizable buildings in La Jolla, this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints bears more than a striking resemblance to Queen Elsa’s palace from the movie Frozen.  Day or night this is a wonderful piece of architecture to photograph and the grounds are immaculately maintained with flowers that can give a nice pop of color in the foreground. If you want to capture the full buildings and both spires, a wide-angle lens would definitely be needed.

These are some of my favorite locations; let me know of spots I should visit in future trips below in the comment section!