Two Spontaneous Alignments in San Diego

With so many tall, vertically oriented structures in a city, it’s probably no surprise that some of them should fall into pleasing alignment with one another. The modest glow of sunrise light through the gap between the clocktower and the adjacent building provides a friendly spark to guide the eye to the center of this image.

Clocktower Symmetry

In this second case, it’s harsher Sun, rather than palm trees and clock towers, that has found its way into a special alignment through the streets of San Diego. Bright light falls into this canyon that should otherwise be dawn dim.

San Diego Double Sun


Muscle Cars at Dawn in San Diego

Dawn makes for this dynamic moment when parts of a scene are thrown into dramatic sunlight while others still benefit from delicate, scattered, indirect light.

I like these shots for how the Ford Mustang and Dodge Charger are bathed in relatively gentle, flattering light, but headlights and sunlight make the rest of the scene comparatively high-contrast.

Commuting in the 'Stang

Dawn Charger

A E S T H E T I C Rail

I’ve played with that 90’s vaporwave aesthetic in the past with aggressive color grading; on this particular San Diego dawn, those steps were hardly necessary. Palm trees and magenta hues do most of the hard work for themselves. I can hear the synths already…

A E S T H E T I C Rail

San Diego Runners

I last traveled to San Diego to present at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society—but while that meeting took place during the day, early morning was unaccounted-for time. I went exploring in the area around the San Diego Convention Center and found that most of my early-morning compatriots were runners.

In this quartet of images, I’ve captured a few of those runners in the dramatic early-morning California sunlight.

San Diego Runner I

San Diego Runner II

San Diego Runner III

San Diego Runner IV

Cliffs at La Jolla Shores

La Jolla Shores is a righteous beach: good swimming, okay surfing (I’m told), and excellent Southern California sights. As mid-twentieth-century architecture has grown on me, I’ve even come to appreciate the homes and UC buildings overlooking the beach—but what must it have been like to visit here 100 years ago?

Cliffs at La Jolla Shores

Coronado to Cabrillo

A study in the contradictions of California and the importance of federal lands: In the foreground is Coronado, home of resorts and Navy SEALs. This is the developed, modern California. The cliffs in the background are Cabrillo National Monument, where the first Europeans reached the West Coast in 1542. I imagine that the peninsula would be equally carpeted with homes if not for the presence of the monument. I appreciate the contrast.

Coronado to Cabrillo//

San Diego Morning

Time zones are a source of confusion and consternation (seriously, they’re insane to deal with). Jet lag can be surprisingly disruptive. There are some temporal challenges to transcontinental (not to mention intercontinental) travel.

But sometimes the time zones align and travel makes waking at dawn trivial. To get a view of the San Diego skyline with the perfect mix of lighting and color, and with minimal sleep deprivation, was a treat.

San Diego Morning


Toaster glow sunlight was the result of through marine-layer haze coating San Diego every evening. I couldn’t help but notice the three abnormally large ships in this image: In the distance, two Navy aircraft carriers are the essence of industrial, practical form. Moored in the foreground is a truly massive sailing yacht that is 100% style. Look at how it dwarfs even the ostentatious motorboats beside it. Quite the contrast.


San Diego Surreal Trio

Though they’re not necessarily explicitly surreal, I found these three images buried on the memory card from my most recent trip to San Diego. I thought that they might make a sort of “disparate triptych.”

To begin: The field beneath my hotel room had the odd stubbiness of coastal California grass, and seeing a formally dressed person isolated in that setting was strange.

San Diego Surreal I

I don’t remember taking this image—my finger must have been on the shutter as I swung from one composition to another at night. I like the striations.

San Diego Surreal II

And this last shot, of my seatmate during the transcontinental flight home, is the least surreal. Lots of pleasing pinks and light refracted from optical surfaces.

San Diego Surreal III

OMNI, Again

Traveling back to California for the first time since I left in 2013, I realized I had forgotten the little but important differences: the streets are crowded with cars instead of trucks and the air is saturated with a different set of volatile organic compounds.

From another perspective and at another time, this photograph captures the same Omni hotel and Petco Park from one of my earliest Decaseconds posts, almost four years ago. How odd to be back again.

OMNI, Again


San Diego’s Civic Center, as I’ve shown previously, is a pretty surreal place. There’s certainly a feeling that you’re supposed to be in the nexus of the city’s of law and justice, but literally just around the corner, the buildings are plastered with signs for race tracks and the curbs and lined with homeless folks. I liked the way this image showed the broad sidewalks mostly abandoned, with only traces of waking life here and there.

Caliente! (Night)