SD Colors - Photography

San Diego Photos

Charles Pfeil -

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  • Sailing in the Bay

    Beautiful day for sailing in San Diego Bay. Tallest building in this cityscape is the One America Plaza. Photo taken from the end of Harbor Island Drive. I was eating lunch at the Coasterra on the deck with a view of the skyline. This sailboat "Omaha" went by and I grabbed my camera to capture an iconic view of San Diego. The wispy clouds helped to complete the scene.

  • Scripps Pier Sun Rays

    It is an interesting feeling to be down at the beach with a panoramic view of the ocean extending to the horizon. Then it is another feeling to be in the middle of the pier with the waves crashing and the sun peeking inside. All is good!

  • Coronado Beach Sunset Beauty

    I love how the water reflects the brilliant sky! This was taken at Coronado Beach on Christmas Eve 2015. Photo Lesson - The Right Moment I took many photos at this location during the sunset and this one was the best one for a couple reasons. First, the sun had already set about 15 minutes before. Sometimes, not always, the brightest colors occur after the sun has set. Waiting around to find out is all part of the experience. The color reflection also was at its peak after the sun had set. True, you don't get the direct reflection of the sun on the water in a line between you and the sun, but the ambient colors are so intense, the water seems to absorb the colors. Second, do you see the swash on the left, how it wraps around the backwash? While looking in my camera eye piece, I could see the swash coming from the left and it was looking very interesting so I started taking multiple images. Personally, I think the boundary between the swash and backwash adds a nice shape to the foreground.

  • Hotel Del Coronado I

    An alternate view of this classic landmark. The Hotel Del is a classic landmark for Coronado Island and this perspective really shows the majesty. Photo Tip - A Different Point of View I am confident that the Hotel Del Coronado has been photographed over a million times, usually from the "frontal" perspective as you can see in the next photo in this gallery. No doubt, it is worthy of that attention. Not being satisfied to take only the ususal and customary photo, I walked around the hotel looking for a different point of view. The north side wasn't so good because the sun would be in my face. The east side didn't look grand, but the southern side was awesome! There is a park-like area with nice walkways, grass and other plants. When I got there, I knew it was just right. Then the challenge was to position the camera to get the best composition. What do you think? Is this better than the traditional angle?

  • Scripps Pier Sunset Surfer

    Ending the day with a joyful time surfing. Ah, isn't it great in San Diego?

  • Hotel Del Coronado Sunset

    Sunset with reflections in the hotel windows. I was looking for a good spot to take the sunset photo so I went up the stairs to a platform. To my pleasing surprise, the windows provide a great reflection. Photo Tip - Capturing the Sunset The most extreme range of light and dark occurs during a sunset when the sun is not hiding behind the clouds. Often the photo ends up with a white spot for the sun and extreme darkness for the foreground. Cameras just don't have the dynamic range of the human eye. Using an HDR process in which multiple images with a variety of exposures are merged together can significantly improve this situation. However, there can be problems, especially when there is a wind and things such as the leaves of the palm trees are moving around and won't be in the same location in every shot. My preference is to shoot in RAW with the exposure for the area near the sun. Initially the the image will appear almost as a silhouette. However, with a high-end camera and a RAW editor, the details in the shadows can be brought out. Of course there is the risk of also introducing significant noise. To help mitigate the noise, I would still shoot with an ISO of 100. Then after reducing the shadows, I will run a noise filter set so the details are not lost. Each photo is different so the actual settings need to be played with until the right balance of noise elimination and keeping the details is met. Then apply a sharpening mask set so that edges are sharpened without creating halos. Yikes, as I write about this, I am reminded of the hours of OCD editing in Photoshop that I have experienced in the past. :-) In the end it is not just about the result, the learning process also brings satisfaction.

  • UTC Nexus Technology Centre II

    This office complex is on Towne Centre Drive in La Jolla. I love the classic and modern style of architecture. The architecture is certainly unusual, but I really like the style and it reminds me of the Washington Monument.

  • La Jolla Shores Sunset Glow

    The curve of the road, the stairs descending, the pier accented by the palm trees, the rolling waves, downtown La Jolla in the background and of course the brilliant sunset adding an orange glow to the entire scene. Photo Tip - Depth Of Field Often we find great compositions with interesting objects in the foreground and in the background. The difficulty here is the depth-of-field. There is a tendency to just set the aperture at f/22 or whatever is the smallest aperture available for the lens. It is true that this will give you the greatest depth-of-field; however, it will usually not give you the sharpest image. When doing landscape photography, it is best to find the sweet-spot that has the sharpest aperture for each lens. It is usually somewhere between f/8 and f/11. I recommend that you test each of your lenses to find the sweet-spot and then write them down for future reference - unless, unlike me, you have a really good memory and don't need to take notes. :-) Once you know the sweet-spot, use that aperture and focus one-third to one-half the distance to the background. In this case, I focused on the pier. Take a number of shots with different focal points, then review them to find the sharpest one. Take a few at f/22 as well just so that you can see the difference.

  • Moonrise Over the Convention Center

    You can also see the Omni Hotel, Petco Park, and the top of the Central Library. Taken from Coronado Island with a 200 mm lens. Photo Tip - Timing the Moonrise When shooting the full moon, it is important to understand if the moon will be rising before or after sunset because the foreground lighting will vary significantly. The 100% full moon can occur at any time of the day. Sometimes it is synchronized with the sunset, usually not. For example, on Dec 25, 2015 the 100% full moon occured at 3:11 am - that is when the sun and moon are exactly opposite. On Christmas day 2015 the moon rose significantly later than the sunset. Sunset 4:48 pm, moonrise 5:32 pm. On the day of this photo, the moon was rising a little bit later than the sunset. As a result, the buildings still had the sun reflections as the moon rose behind them. If the moon had risen later, the reflections would have been gone because the sun would be set and the sky would have darker.

  • Ocean Beach Pier

    Sunset with reflections in the evening glow. I remember when I took this photo I had just bought a new camera and had it setup on a tripod. Someone came by and asked me about the camera and I was not too sure that I should say, "Yes it's the latest Cannon 1Ds model". So I lied and said it was just an old film camera. He nodded his head and walked on. Today I can laugh about it.

  • Skyline from Coronado Island

    A calm and beautiful San Diego Harbor provides reflections of the skyline. On this day there wasn't any wind and the ripples in the harbor are just from the ships and boats passing by.

  • Newport Beach - Corona Del Mar Sunset

    The clouds along the Southern California Coast in December of 2013 were unusually fantastic! The puffy pillows of clouds provided great contrasts between the orange sun and blue skys. This location overlooks Balboa Island and the Newport Avalon. Photo Lesson - Sunset and Moonrise Capturing a great sunset or moonrise is really about the foreground. Just the sun or just the moon is rather boorish. Put a great foreground in the scene with a backdrop of a colorful sunset and you have a winner! In this case, note that the foreground is not just a sihouette. When there is a bright sun or moon in the background the natural thing is to get a sihouette. This image has two things that make the foreground details visible. First, the sun is hiding behind the tree so the exposure could be a little longer - this also helped to provide the sun flare. Second, it was shot in RAW and during the processing the detail in the shadows can be brought out. Use something like Photoshop Camera Raw and you can diminish the shadows and brighten the things that would normally be very dark.

  • San Diego Harbor View Panorama

    One day while at a golf course, I saw a panorama photo that had the city skyline and mountains with snow behind them. I thought it was a fake but much to my joy, I found places on Point Loma that provide excellent views of the harbor, city and mountains! Haven't seen the snow yet. Someday I expect to! It is composed of 7 high resolution images merged together. The detail in this image is frankly unbelievable. Note the plane just over the mountains on its way to land at Lindberg Field. Photo Tip - Taking Panorama Photos The best news is that over the years photo editing tools like Photoshop have greatly improved their photo merging capabilities. It is rare these days to get a merge that has significant problems. The keys to capturing a panorama like this with very high detail include the following: - A sturdy tripod with a camera mount that swivels and turns. - A high resolution camera turned vertical and absolutely level. - A high quality telephoto lens. In this case it was set at 270 mm. - When taking the images, get at least 10% overlap. - Shoot in RAW and process the images all together with the same settings. - After the merge, obsessively inspect the entire image at 400% to ensure you fix any overlaps that have problems. Yes, you can use a camera that takes photos and merges them as you scan the scenery, but the quality won't be as high.

  • San Diego Living

    Taken from Coronado Island. Note the plane landing. This is a crop of another image which is a panorama consisting a merge of 8 photos.

  • Sitting On the Dock of the (San Diego) Bay

    Watching the sunset and the boats. Sometimes an almost-silhouette is appropriate. I suspect this fellow was having a great time relaxing and watching the boats go by and soaking in the sunset colors.

  • Harbor Sunrise Panorama

    Sunrise delight showing the southern part of the city and the Coronado Bridge. This panorama was taken from an upper room at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego. The tall buildings on the left are condos. To the right of the Marriott hotel is the San Diego Marina.

  • Carlsbad - Grand Sunset

    Unusually beautiful sunset in Carlsbad. Taken from the Beach Terrace Inn. Photo Tip - The Experience Sometimes when I see an amazing sky or other natural scene, I think about putting down my camera so that I can enjoy it in the fullest rather than just seeing it through a lens while being comsumed with all the thoughts about aperature, exposure, ISO, and composition. My wife and I were staying at the Beach Terrace Inn during a December vacation, and I decided to go down to the pool area and relax in the hot tub. There I am, totally relaxed, overlooking the ocean, watching the sunset form in front of me. I could tell it would be a great one, but this time rather than jumping out of the tub, running to my room, grabbing my camera, setting up the tripod, checking all the settings and doing the click-click-click, I decided to just stay in the tub and enjoy the experience. Truth is, this photo did not capturer the best moment of the sunset. I took it after the peak, after I knew that it wouldn't get any better. But I got an experience that I will never forget. Sometimes it is better to just relax and enjoy the scene and not get distracted from the fullness by trying to capture it for everyone else. Yes, it is a selfish moment, but I needed that to remind me of how incredibly amazing nature is.

  • La Jolla Shores Sunset

    There goes the sun, again! We are fortunate to get great sunset photos in the San Diego area so often. Photo Lesson - Capturing the Sun Rays Any strong light can cause a lens flare as you see in this image. The sun is rather convenient and the there a few simple things that enable the best flares. First, set the aperture of the lens to a small opening, for example something between f/13 to f/22. Do some experiments in that range. Second, capture the sun when it is slightly behind an object like a cloud in the distance or even a tree in the foreground. Another photo in this gallery demonstrates the sun flare wrapping around a palm tree. This image at La Jolla Shores uses a cloud to help with the flare. The only problem with capturing a landscape scene with a small aperature like F/22 is that the image will not be as sharp overall as it would if you used the "sweet spot" for sharp landscapes. There is another Photo Tip on Depth of Field, located here:

  • Full Moonrise Coronado Beach

    Christmas Eve 2015. A 99% full moon rises behind a home facing the Coronado Beach. I actually went to the beach to take pictures of the sunset and then I turned around to see the moon rising. Photo Tip - Composition When I looked through the lens at the moon, I framed it without the tall palm tree on the left. Then I zoomed out and took some shots including it. I had a feeling that the composition was better with the tree, even though it looked kinda straggly and lonely over there. When I processed the image, I tried it with and without the palm tree. At the normal 3:2 aspect ratio, it did not look right. Then I tried a 2:1 aspect ration and that looked the best. The composition focuses on the moon and there is a pleasing foreground with a tree balancing the left side.

  • Laguna Beach - Calming Sunset

    Aliso Beach County Park. There is a parking lot just above the beach here and that is where I took the photo. I do like how the palm trees provide a nice composition for the sun rays.

  • Coronado Beach Sunset

    Christmas Eve 2015. A colorful sunset takes over the sky and the ocean. This was taken after the sun had set and that is why there are numerous dark clouds that are not lit by the sunshine.

  • Hotel Del Coronado II

    Afternoon view of a marvelous hotel. This is a classic view of the hotel and I like the puffy clouds in the background. During the winter, the grassy area seen here is covered with an ice skating rink.

  • La Jolla UTC Sunset

    Occassionally I will read discussions about how today's photographers, with their digital equipment and Photoshop, produce photos that no longer represent reality. The point being made is that the film cameras more accurately represented the scene because the image has not been digitally processed. In the 1980's I used a Pentax 645 and my favorite film was the Fujichrome Velvia Professional 100. This film was known for its "Exceptionally High Color Saturation" as advertised by Fujifilm. About 10 years ago, I went back to my stockpile of slides and picked out the best ones. Then I took them to a local photo shop and had them converted to digital. Well, guess what? This image was one of them and as you can see it has a saturation that is, to my eye, over saturated. I considered de-saturating it a bit to bring it in-line with my other photos, but ironically I thought that would make this image "over processed". In the end, unless the work is photo journalism, photography is an artistic media. When taking a photo, I am thinking about all the things that I have learned over the years with the intent of creating a scene of beauty and of balance. I want to capture my emotional experience about the wonders of nature and the creative talents of mankind when building cities.

  • San Diego Skyline

    Taken from Coronado Island. This panorama is composed of 6 images. Just another wonderful weather day in San Diego which enabled this photo to be incredibly clear and sharp.

  • UTC Nexus Technology Centre I

    On Towne Centre Drive in La Jolla. This office complex is simply astounding. If you are ever in the UTC area, I encourage you to drive north on Towne Centre Drive and you will see this on the left. It is modern and ancient at the same time.

  • Moonrise Panorama

    Taken from Coronado Island. I have to admit this is one of my favorite photos. In my living room, I have a 24"x72" canvas print framed. If you want an amazing image in your home, this is the one to get! But enough of the self promotion of my photos... Photo Tip - Relative Size of the Moon Occasionally I will see a photo of the moon in which it is huge, I mean unbelievably HUGE. If you Google "moonrise images" you will see many that fall into that category. Most of these images are the result of artistic license while using Photoshop. However, that does not mean it is impossible to get an image in which the moon is so big it dwarfs the foreground. When taking photos of the moon, it is always the same size. It looks larger when it is rising or setting primarily because you have a foreground reference point and your mind understands the size of those objects. The further you are away from the foreground objects (cityscape, trees, people, animals, buildings) the smaller the objects look while the moon stays the same size. To capture a huge moon photo, get as far away from the foreground as reasonable and use a super-telephoto lens, 500 mm or larger. For example, I went to Harbor View Drive to get the moonrise against the cityscape and the mountains behind it. I was all set to take an incredible photo. The sun was setting and the moon was about to rise. Then to my horror, as the moon rose it was so big it dwarfed the entire scene. It was unbelievably HUGE. I decided to abort the process because I was confident everyone who saw it would say, "You must have Photoshopped that moon into that photo." Not only that, the composition was not balanced. That location is about 5 miles away from the city front; whereas, the Moonrise Panorama on this page was taken about 2 miles away. My experience says that the best composition of the moon relative to the foreground is to be between 2 and 3 miles away from the foreground and use a telephoto lens between 100-300 mm.

  • Laguna Beach - Sunset Brilliance

    Aliso Beach County Park

  • Sunrise Pano

    San Diego - Sunrise delight showing the southern part of the city and the Coronado Bridge. This panorama was captured from a lower room at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego.

  • Coronado Sunrise

    View of the sunrise from a balcony at the Coronado Marriott Resort

  • Harbor View Panorama

    One day while at a golf course, I saw a panorama photo that had the city skyline and mountains with snow behind them. I thought it was a fake but much to my joy, I found places on Point Loma that provide excellent views of the harbor, city and mountains! Haven't seen the snow yet. Someday I expect to! This image has a 3:1 aspect ratio and is composed of multiple photos merged together to get the panorama. There is another version of this same photograph with the original 4:1 aspect ration. It is here: The detail in this image is frankly unbelievable. Note the plane just over the mountains on its way to land at Lindberg Field.

Copyright Information: All content, graphics, and photographs contained throughout this web site are Copyright © Charles Pfeil and are protected by United States and International copyright laws.

No text, graphics, or photographs may be used as a whole or in part, individually, or as part of a derivative work, in any medium now existing or in any future medium not yet existing, without the express written permission from Charles Pfeil.

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