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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
Strange sunlight geometries at dawn make for rare reflections on the hull of this ship.
I was back in California this week—sneaking some early-morning photography before the events of the 263rd National Meeting of the American Chemical Society began. The underside of the Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge reflected the sunrise and showed off the arc of its structure.
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?
Like many East Coasters, I hadn’t heard of the marine layer until my first visit to the West Coast. The odd, damped mornings in coastal cities seem so at odds with the view of California in popular culture. Even sunny San Diego is matte and dull under a blanket of morning clouds.
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.
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.
The dome of San Diego’s Central Library is so much more sci-fi when set against the average buildings around it. With the hills in the background, I’m ready to believe that this is the lair of some evil genius (a.k.a. librarian?).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.