Downtown San Diego Night Cityscape
I have wanted to make this image ever since I saw a similar shot (although during a different time of day) in a book my wife got me called PhotoSecrets San Diego: The Best Sights and How To Photograph Them. I have passed by this scene on numerous occasions during the day but never made a photo because I wanted to get a shot at night where the car lights would provide a leading line into the image.
How to get this type of shot
Typical of my night time shots, I made this photo around 20 minutes after sunset. This is where the lights of the city closely match the exposure of the sky. Due to timing the shot, there was no need for any filters. The shot was taken on El Prado (Laurel St) off of the Cabrillo Bridge with the camera pointed south towards downtown San Diego. The freeway beneath the bridge is I-163 and the bridge itself is in Balboa Park. The freeway forms a pleasing S-curve that leads the eye into the scene towards the lit cityscape. I used a long 30 second exposure to give me light streaks for the vehicles. An f-stop of 11 was used since the closest object was around 60 feet away.