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  • Writer's pictureJefferson Graham

November project: L.A County Pier Sunsets

I got so disappointed when I arrived to Malibu Saturday and saw the sun start to set behind the mountain.

Wait a minute! What about my sunset over the Pier shot?

I’ve been on a tear to exploit the amazing November light show we’ve talked about the past weeks. The game plan: to photograph as many of the 8 Los Angeles County #SoCal Piers as I can, with the sun and/or colors behind her, as part of my November Piers Photowalks project. (I’m 6 for 8, but there are 8 more days to go before December kicks in!)

If I was in Oregon, as above, I’d be doing this with lighthouses. But when in California, shoot for Piers. Because sunsets are always more interesting with objects to accentuate the colors.

So, back in Malibu, once the sun started to set behind the curvy mountain, I forgot one of my most time-honored sunset rules. The best stuff isn’t seeing the sun set at all, but what follows afterwards. Most of the photos displayed here were taken a good 20 minutes after the sun did indeed say good night.

Help me select please: which of the following 4 images best says "Malibu November Sunset"? 1, 2, 3 or 4? — Jefferson Graham (@jeffersongraham) November 22, 2020

This holiday tree lit Manhattan Beach Pier looked fantastic a few minutes after sunset. Then the green from the tree lights started to shine on the water, as the sky behind it did all sorts of incredible things with the clouds. And it became a whole different animal. This image was snapped some 27 minutes after sunset.

Pier Holiday 2020

Sometimes you arrive to the Pier only to find, no clouds, a little fog, kind of blah. Give up? Nah. That’s what I found when I arrived to the Santa Monica Pier Sunday. But hey, I made the drive, I got myself a fantastic parking spot, and I was going to put in an hour trying my best. Again, the later it got, the better it became.

I did double duty, stills and a time-lapse video, and used the colors of the Pacific Park amusement park, which, while closed, still shines its lights brightly right after sunset. A little orange on the side really helps, and on a time-lapse, you get to to watch the day turn to night, which is always fun.

Remember to bring your tripod along with you for the time-lapse!)

The Venice Pier gave me the usual yellow, golden sun shot that many of us associate with a classic sunset. No clouds. But I love the sun shining on the ocean and the surfer helped a lot, right? Just wish I had some clouds!

Of the 8 Piers in L.A. County (Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice, Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo Beach, San Pedro and Long Beach) my favorite is of course the Manhattan Beach Pier, which is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. What’s below is a pre-sunrise shot, just after 6 a.m., before the lights went out.

What’s your favorite Pier?

If you’d like to see more:

And yes, we sell prints! My friend Liz Spear has the coupon code for a special 20% savings in her latest article for the Manhattan Beach edition of Patch.

For those you fascinated as I am with the intersection of technology and art, 6 of the 8 images in this section were taken on the new iPhone 12 Pro Max, which does an amazing job with sunsets, rivaling or bettering what I’ve been getting on my Sony. Go figure. Can you guess which ones are iPhone shots?

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