Downtown San Diego Night Cityscape

Photo of downtown San Diego Cityscape taken at Balboa Park from Cabrillo Bridge at duskCanon 5D Mark III, 24-105mm f/4L IS USM at 55mm, f/11 for 30s at ISO 100


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.


Cabrillo Bridge, spanning I-163 in Balboa Park in San Diego, California (Coordinates: 32.731399,-117.154351)


21 thoughts on “Downtown San Diego Night Cityscape

  1. That is a great shot! I wonder if you’d turned to your left and looked back at the Prado in Balboa Park how that would come out at night. I need to go down there and try this. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I have a shot of the archway facing east towards the Prado, unfortunately, the tungsten lights on the walls of the buildings makes it difficult to get the colors of the light right (ambient and artificial lights).

  2. Amazing!
    This type of shot that I’ve been longing for. I haven’t got any chance to do it. Hopefully one day. Thanks for sharing your amazing photo and your story behind the scene. :)

  3. Pingback: Waiting For The Light | Travel Monkey

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