Long Exposure Photography at the Santa Monica Pier

Long Exposure Photography at the Santa Monica Pier

Jason Daniel Shaw


The iconic Santa Monica Pier is a beauty no matter the time of day but sunset provides a great opportunity for some long exposure photography. The pier is home to Pacific Park, a small amusement park that includes, among other things, a roller coaster and ferris wheel. The ferris wheel is lit up with various light patterns that create beautiful designs during a long exposure photo.

Santa Monica Pier with a Purple Sky


In December, I found myself at the Santa Monica Pier trying to capture a ULA rocket launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base with the pier in the foreground. It was scabbed at the last minute, literally. This was the same rocket launch that had been scrubbed when I ventured out to Victoria Beach in Laguna earlier in the month. I decided to use the opportunity to capture some long exposure shots of the Santa Monica Pier for a project that I am working on.

Santa Monica Pier Reflections


I always shoot from the south side of the Santa Monica pier when photographing it because that is the side that the roller coaster and ferris wheel are most prominent on when viewing from the beach. In the past I have stayed closer to the bike path to try and capture more of the sky and a more classic looking pier shot. This time, I decided to get right down to the water’s edge so that I could get some of the reflection in the water from the lights on the pier. When the exposure times get longer, the designs that make up the spokes of the ferris wheel create patterns that make the image more interesting. In the end, the trip wasn’t a complete loss as I managed to get some images and try out some things that will improve the final image that I end up getting for my project.

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