Exploring Los Angeles: An Evening on Santa Monica Pier
Located at the end of Colorado Street, Santa Monica Pier is the city’s most prized and one of the oldest landmarks of the City.
In the city for a business trip in November 2010 and staying in Santa Monica, I had to capture the beauty of this place at the best time of day: the blue hour! I was surprised and lucky because it was a quiet night and contrary to my last trip in the summer, it was not overly crowded. After parking at the entrance, the first building to photograph was the Bubba Gimp Shrimp Co Restaurant.
Then going up on the Pier, I was fascinated by the scene of the Surf View Cafe and for a more dynamic scene, I let a few people walk into the frame. The result is amazing!
The view towards the end of the pier shows beautiful colours against the blue sky.
Then you get to the amazing entrance of Pacific Park where you’ll see a big octopus dominating the scene.
A few dozen meters further, on the left part of the Pier, you get this wonderful view.
And walking a bit further you get these two amazing scenes. I especially love how the HDR brings out the texture of the weathered wooden floor of the pier and how the 2 shops light up the scene against the blue skyline. The colours balance is nearly perfect.
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Equipment used for the shoot
Gitzo Leveling 6X tripod GT2540LVL
Default ISO settings : 200
Using the 16-35mm was the best way to capture the place “landscape” style and shoot for HDR. What’s really important when shooting for HDR at night it’s to capture all the details of the highlights and have a base exposure with sufficient shadow details. When choosing focal lengths, staying away from 16-20mm helps avoiding distortion and stretching. Contrary to the 14-24mm from Nikon, this lens allows for the use of filters (77mm diameter).
hardware used for the editing
Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Bits
Core 2 Duo E6750 + 4GB memory
Samsung 275T 27″ monitor + Samsung 244T 24″ monitor
Wacom Intuos 3 tablet
The Wacom tablet is always a must have tool for editing. It allows for pressure sensitive adjustments and it will speed up your workflow once you get used to using it.
Software used for the editing
32-Float Plugin from Unified Colours – HDR Experts
This was my first series of tests done using this new application from Unified Colours | The HDR Experts. Contrary to other tools like Photomatix, it’s much more easier to set the black point and once you find the right “recipe”, it’s pretty straighforward to use. Colour rendition is way superior to Photomatix and overall result is more realistic. Check for yourself and use coupon code “dgphotohdr” for a get 20% off any of the products.
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David Giral is a published Montreal/Toronto based editorial and commercial professional photographer specialized in architecture, interiors, portrait and travel photography.
Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright David Giral (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without permission from David Giral.