The Boulevard – San Diego Night Shooting
San Diego has these cool neon signs in various locations to signify that you are entering a certain neighborhood. One such sign is on El Cajon Blvd near where it intersects Normal Street and Park Blvd. I hope to amass a collection of these signs which also include the ones in Gaslamp, Hillcrest, and Little Italy among others.
How to get this type of shot
A sturdy tripod is a must for this type of shot. In order to get the nice long streaks from the cars’ headlights and taillights, long exposures are necessary. Patients is also something you must have. I had to time my shots so that cars were flowing in both directions, and this took some time considering it was 9:30pm on a Thursday night when this image was made. This also takes me to the third ingredient for a successful nighttime shot like this, a clear dark black sky. I really wanted a dark sky to maximize contrast between it and the sign. This means shooting well after sunset (7:55pm on this day). Any remaining light in the sky caused by either the setting sun or an overcast sky reflecting the city lights would decrease the impact of this shot.
The final thing to remember during a shot like this is safety. It is dark out and cars are passing by quickly and they are not expecting to see some guy out there with a camera. I was in the center median for this shot and although I would have liked to have been further back and zoomed into the sign to get more telephoto compression, I felt it was not safe to do so since the median narrowed the further back from the sign it got. No shot is worth risking your equipment, and more importantly your safety for.