I know, I know, it’s been done a million times before, but it’s the most beautiful skyline and I really wanted one of my own. Call me silly, but I like iconic shots.
I did my research and found out that the perfect place to stand to make an image of the San Diego skyline is Centennial Park on Coronado Island.
I got there about an hour before sunset so I would have plenty of time to enjoy the park and scout out a good location for the sunset/twilight shoot.
The image below is one of the first locations I found. The foreground is a little messy though and I wasn’t sure I was on the right angle to capture the skyline at it’s best so I kept looking.
While I was waiting for sunset I decided to try out my new 10 stop solid neutral density filter to see if I could capture the clouds moving across the sky in daytime.
There are two types of solid neutral density filters you can buy. The kind that fits into a holder and simply drops into place or the kind that screws in. All my other neutral density filters are the drop in kind but I read a lot of reviews that said the drop in 10 stop ND filter leaks light in the sides.
The screw in kind doesn’t leak light, but it’s draw back is that it takes longer to put in place and it’s much less convenient if you want to change your composition because often you cannot see through the viewfinder at all because the filter is so dark. You have to unscrew it, change your composition, and screw it back on again.
The drawbacks of both kinds didn’t sound good. But I figure if I am doing long exposure landscapes I usually have lots of time so I went with the less expensive screw on kind.
This is the one:
It was a bright sunny afternoon and I actually could still see through my viewfinder with the filter on. I had my head down and my tunnel vision on concentrating on what I was doing when through the viewfinder I saw the bow of the coast guard cutter.
Crap! I didn’t see it coming!
Luckily I know where all my buttons and dials are so I quickly turned off my mirror lock-up, turned off my 2 second timer, turned my auto focus on and my image stabilization on and removed the camera from the tripod. But I knew I wouldn’t have time to unscrew the filter so I no choice but to pump up the ISO to 2000 if I wanted a shot of the city with the cutter in front. I was going to need a decent shutter speed because the cutter was moving.
Bringing the ISO up to 2000 gave me a 1/4s shutter speed. Still the ship is not quite sharp, but this is what I got.
By the time I turned my ISO up even higher, it was too late. Feeling slightly defeated, I decided to move on and find a better location with some good foreground for sunset.
The lighting didn’t change the way I hoped it would for sunset. Some cloud cover came and it simply got darker. But I found an interesting location with a rock and some rippled sand in the foreground.
I almost gave up at this point because the prospects weren’t looking good. Also, dogs weren’t allowed on the beach so Ray and our beagle Angie were patiently waiting in the parking lot. But the light wasn’t gone, it just wasn’t good, so I decided to wait a little longer and see what would happen.
Well, you know, I am used to the ocean and tides and stuff, but I wasn’t expecting the tide to come in quite so fast. I made the image below 15 minutes after the image above. The light was getting better, but my foreground was gone.
That’s the same rock poking out of the water in the foreground! A passing boat caused a wave which appears as a dark blue line in this 15 second exposure.
I wasn’t having much luck with foreground but the light was continuing to get better so decided to wait some more.
Finally, another 15 minutes later I made my favourite image of the series.
This is an 80 second exposure which shows the movement of the clouds overhead.
It was a great location but I hope I get the chance to go back one day to try to try again for some foreground.
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