The Mission Inn – Riverside California – Part II

Mission Inn Riverside California RotundaCanon 5D Mark III, 17-40mm f/4L USM at 17mm, f/16 for 15s at ISO 100


This is the second part of my two part series on photographing The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa. Part I can be found here.

How to get this type of shot

This shot was made with the camera on a tripod pointed directly upwards into the rotunda. In order to get this shot in one exposure, I had to wait until the lights of the staircase matched the light of the sky, which meant shooting around 30 minutes after sunset. If this same shot would have been taken 30 minutes earlier, the sky would have been totally blown out and would have required a multiple shot composite to capture the dynamic range of the stair case and sky. If shot 30 minutes later, the sky would have been too dark with no details.

To achieve maximum depth-of-field I used an aperture of f/16 and to capture as much of the scene as possible I chose a focal length of 17mm. This resulted in a 15s exposure that caused the passing clouds overhead to streak and add an additional interest item. Using f/16 also allowed the lights in the stair case to form brilliant 14-point starbursts.

The most challenging part of getting this shot was composition. Since I had the camera pointed directly upwards, I did not have a good way of looking through the viewfinder nor had a direct view of the LCD on the back of the camera. I tried my best to get on the ground to get the general framing I wanted then made multiple exposures with slight camera movements until I got one that I liked.

Mission Inn Riverside CaliforniaCanon 5D Mark III, 17-40mm f/4L USM at 40mm, f/8 for 0.6s at ISO 100

The second shot was composed so that the bougainvillea would frame the tables which in turn lead the eye into the frame. The bougainvillea was also used to layer the image along with the right hand terrace to add depth to the image. I used an aperture of f/8 since I was not concerned with getting the foreground branches in focus. I had to take multiple exposures since it was windy and I was using a slow enough shutter speed for the foreground branches to cause motion blur. After viewing the photos on my laptop, I could immediately discern bokeh from motion blur, with the latter resulting in a not so pleasant effect.


The location of the rotunda in the north west corner of the hotel (Coordinates: 33.983738,-117.373064)

The location of the rear patio at the Mission Inn (Coordinates: 33.983511,-117.372557)


12 thoughts on “The Mission Inn – Riverside California – Part II

  1. Oh goodness, I love that place. I used to live right around the block from it, and would go there on Tuesdays to sit in the presidential lounge with a glass of wine and listen to the live music. Your photos are stunning, as always!

    • Gynjii, thanks for stopping by. I was born and raised in Riverside and my parents still live there there, so I go down often. I am sure you have been at the Mission Inn for the Festival of Lights, it is such an awesome event.

      Have fun next Tuesday and hopefully the weather will not be as hot as it was when I was there.

  2. I really like your framing of the circular/oval staircase, both in this post and in your previous one. For some reason the composition keeps reminding me of golden spirals and shells that form in that ratio. It makes you want to keep looking at the photo!

  3. crazy way to capture a photo, but well worth the effort! Stunning…it is always interesting to read how you capture the shot…the dining area looks like a wonderful place to dine…I just noticed the fellow in the second table from the bottom of the photo is looking up… :)

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