• They were posing just for you! ;-) - Darvin Atkeson
  • Yes, they were very cooperative posers! Okay, well maybe not for me...
  • It is important to start the exposure when the wheel is turning slowly with the light only half-bright. After those paramaters, you just have to experiment.
  • 8-seconds seemed to give the water a smooth-ish texture but still had texture. I like it for this shot.
  • Light from the wheel reflecting of the water on the other side of the pier.
  • You can't really tell, but this is over 1 city block long. And very crowded, but fun.
  • The best coffee is at the Coffee Bean, Tea and Leaf.

Santa Monica - Evening at the pier

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A cool evening on the Santa Monica Pier. A perfect way to beat the 104 degree (40c) heat just a few miles inland. No HDR

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See the super-big 1500 pixel version!

Settings etc.:

Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 24-105L @ 58 (Same as the last photo, but the results are different for sure!)
8-second exposure @ F16 (to get that 8-sec. exp.)
No filters
No polarizer
ISO 50
Small Slik Sprint mini II tripod with Manfrotto 322RC2 pistol grip ball head
I put the tripod, legs in, on the wooden railing
RAW file processed with Capture One by Phase One
TIFF file processed with Photoshop


The Santa Monica Pier is a great place to escape the summer heat and enjoy an ice cream and watch all the people walking by. I used an 8-second exposure to show the movement without the people disappearing entirely. The timing on the wheel was important. The wheel would stop to pick up passengers and then move a little, eventually filling up and then spining several times. Here, a little movement was combined with a medium amount of light to fill the circle with light, yet not overpower the rest of the scene. The spokes show too stongly when there is no movement in the wheel and though it looks great to the eye as the complex patterns flash by, a single image simply shows the spokes. If the wheel is too bright, it overpowers the rest of the photo and blows out the highlights.

It was not easy to do this and despite 30 minutes of trying really hard to capture it, this is the only shot I like a lot! It realyl captures the festive atmosphere here.

The map shows exactly where this is.


Google Earth

Simply the best way to scout out locations that there is. You can see sun angles and pre-visualize light under lots of different conditions. Sometimes you can actually pre-compose your shots! This has saved me many thousands of vertical feet of climbing by avoiding spots with blocked views etc.

Satellite imagery (choose 'National' for a local US region or use your fave website)

Tide charting and preditions: (chose your area in US, other countries have similar websites)

teflonjedi, Derek Toye, elginz, and 615 other people added this photo to their favorites.

View 20 more comments

  1. ΞSSΞ®®Ξ 29 months ago | reply

    love all the colors all over the picture. stunningly done with the peaople flowing effect

  2. pamela joan1 29 months ago | reply

    I just love all your photographs, also how you explain everything, Fantastic thank you for sharing.
    Greetings from England.

  3. Mauro Palombini [deleted] 28 months ago | reply

    Congratulations Patrick, beautiful photography!

  4. cedergreenphoto 28 months ago | reply

    Excellent! Love the lights and motion!

  5. ScrapbookingmemoriesforDianne 27 months ago | reply

    Love the wonderful detail,colours & lighting!

  6. E.Mill 26 months ago | reply

    cool...wonderful lighting and colours!

  7. les yeux heureux 26 months ago | reply

    One of the nicer and more interesting images I've seen of the SM pier. The longer exposure really works well here.

  8. Pedalhead'71 23 months ago | reply

    Incredible capture!

  9. sytwingen 23 months ago | reply

    Really nice shot. The motion and all the colors cought my eye.

  10. robertpages60 22 months ago | reply

    j'aime beaucoup

  11. Marco de Waal 22 months ago | reply

    Nice picture! Excellent!

  12. Peggy Collins 20 months ago | reply

    A fun, lively shot that really jumps off the screen. Love the blur of people...it adds to the overall effect of fun fun fun!

  13. Fleming_2011 17 months ago | reply

    Great capture

  14. HVivas69 16 months ago | reply

    comencé a seguirte, y lo que consigo son fotos totalmente fantasticas, en esta los colores y como lo que he visto de ti tiene muchos detalles en pocos fotos como se aprende de tus fotos, gracias de verdad.

  15. RobertCross1 (off and on) 5 months ago | reply

    Just marvelous! I lived in LA for a long time, and this was one of my favorite spots in the evening, for people watching as much as anything. Great job turning the camera around and pointing it this way, instead of out to the ocean. And I love all of the movement in the shot. More great work!
    Seen on your photo stream. ( ?² )

  16. JBenson Castro 4 months ago | reply

    This is really beautiful!

  17. catdancin' 3 months ago | reply

    Love all the colors and the contrasts. The bokeh extra nicely placed. Fun shot!

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