San Diego Neighborhood Signs

Gaslamp Sign Quarter San Diego CaliforniaCanon 5D Mark III, 24-105mm f/4L IS USM at 65mm, f/11 for 6s at ISO 100


These images are a continuation of my series on San Diego neighborhood signs. The first shot of the series was “The Boulevard” on El Cajon Blvd and can be seen is this post. There are several of these signs that either are prominently featured on an island divider or span the entire street. A complete list of signs in San Diego can be found here. So that makes four down and one more to go for a certain project I have in mind.

NorthPark sign San Diego CaliforniaCanon 5D Mark III, 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS USM at 135mm, f/22 for 30s at ISO 100

How to get this type of shot

Patients and timing are critical in getting a successful shot. For both the Gaslamp and Northpark signs I wanted to include the activity of the city represented by the streaking car head and tail lights. These light streaks not only serve as leading lines into the image, but also add a dynamic element of activity in a cityscape. To get both incoming and outgoing cars, I had to time my shots with the traffic signals so that cars were going in and out of the frame during the exposure. This took several tries to get the most pleasing streaks.

Shooting at the right time of day is also key. For the Gaslamp shot I wanted to feature the downtown buildings so I shot slightly after sunset so that some light remained in the sky which also served to light up the surrounding buildings with natural light. Some neighborhoods are more photogenic than others and those signs surrounded by strip malls are best shot at night when the signs light up and the rest of the city falls into darkness. The Boulevard and Northpark shots are examples of this.

Encinitas is home to the world famous surf spot Swami’s, so I wanted to capture this photo during sunset with blue skies and clouds in the scene to get the “Sunny California” vibe. I also framed the shot to include some palm trees to give the image a sense of place for those that are not familiar with the location of Encinitas.

Encinitas Sign Highway 101 San Diego California SwamisCanon 5D Mark III, 24-105mm f/4L IS USM at 58mm, f/11 for 1/15s at ISO 100, circular polarizer


“The Gaslamp” sign in San Diego California in the Gaslamp quarter of Downtown San Diego (Coordinates: 32.707262,-117.160087)

“Northpark” sign in San Diego California (Coordinates: 32.748566,-117.131296)

“Encinitas” sign in Encinitas California on Scenic Highway 101 (Coordinates: 33.046309,-117.293762)


18 thoughts on “San Diego Neighborhood Signs

    • Thanks Vincent. The Gaslamp photo was taken during the blue hour, hence the nice light. The Northpark image was taken much later that same night. I might try and go and retake that image during the blue hour and see how it turns out.

  1. Wonderful series of shots Mark, the first shot has me mesmerized by the different sources and temperature of the lights…such a good capture. The sky is what puts it over the edge for me.

  2. You are a source of inspiration Mark. I love these shots and the thinking you put behind them. I want to thank you again for what you’re doing here. Your explanations are really helpful for me. It is such a gift that you share your wisdom with others!

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