Insights & Musings: May/June 2022 Trip Report - Part 1 Los Angeles To La Jolla

May 2022   |  California USA

After 2 long years of no travel I finally managed to get off the continent in May...YAY me! So here we are in July and I'm just posting this now but with good reason. Shortly after my return I had minor surgery on my hand and haven't been able to do much this past month. My road to recovery is nearly done and here I am and excited to share some insights and musings with you from my trip to California and French Polynesia.

Runyan Canyon City View

Runyan Canyon City View

Runyan Canyon, Los Angeles

Photo © copyright by Edith Levy.

So let's start with pre-planning for your photo trip. There’s a reason why pre-planning your trips are important from a Photographic perspective. One is weather. If you’re expecting to travel to a location and you expect sunshine all day then you need to go at a time of year where that would be the case. I know I’m probably stating something you already now. I say this though because sometimes a trip is not strictly about photography its also a vacation and the time you go may be dictated by other considerations. This was the case with my most recent trip.

Runyan Canyon

Runyan Canyon

Runyan Canyon, Los Angeles

Photo © copyright by Edith Levy.

Quick background so you know where I’m coming from. My husband and I had long planned a special anniversary trip to French Polynesia with a week in California. The trip was booked for July 2020 with a week in LA and La Jolla and then on to Tahiti for a Windstar Cruise through the Society Islands. French Polynesia was a bucket list destination and this trip was going to be a combination anniversary celebration, R&R and lots of photo shooting opportunities. Can you guess what happened? Yes I thought you might. So fast forward 2 years and with schedules to consider, family events and another trip that was already scheduled for the Fall of 2022 we rebooked this trip for mid-May.

Venice Beach

Venice Beach

Venice Beach, California

Photo © copyright by Edith Levy.

The next important thing to think about is to pre-plan your photo locations. I start this months before the actual trip. I’ve travelled and photographed California before but never made it south of the Los Angeles area. I was really excited to shoot in La Jolla and the San Diego area, especially the small beach towns that dotted the Pacific Coast Highway south of LA. I not only think about the cities and towns that I want to photograph but any special landmarks or locations in those towns.

VB Skate Park

VB Skate Park

Venice Beach, California

Photo © copyright by Edith Levy.

Once I decide on where I'm going to shoot I then I start thinking about what gear I need to take with me. Will I be doing long exposures, sunrise or sunset shoots, street photography? If I don't pack my neutral destiny filters or my tripod then I can forget about any long exposures. Should I take a drone with me? I did but couldn't use it...more on that later.

Pride in Venice Beach

Pride in Venice Beach

Venice Beach, California

Photo © copyright by Edith Levy.


Santa Monica Beach, California, Los Angeles, pacific ocean, pier, sunset, waves, amusement park, ferris wheel, sand

Santa Monica Beach sunset

Santa Monica, California

Photo © copyright by Edith Levy.

My Top 10 Photo Locations - Los Angeles to San Diego

So back to pre-planning the location and shot list. I usually create a list for myself of the top 10 spots that I want to photograph at my destination. This list could be longer depending on how long I’m going for and what type of trip it will be. I may hit all the locations (I usually do if everything goes as planned) or there are times, given number of circumstances, where I’m unable to.

I knew I was going to be in LA for 3 days and La Jolla/San Diego for 4.

The shot list was as follows:

1. Runyon Canyon

2. Venice Beach

3. Santa Monica Pier

4. Huntington Beach

5. Laguna Beach

6. Newport Beach

7. La Jolla Cove

8. Scripps Pier

9. San Diego Zoo

10. San Clemente

A long exposure of Huntington Beach pier with the white, smooth waves, blue sky and colourful pier reminiscent of salt water taffy.

Salt Water Taffy

Huntington Beach, California

Limited Edition of 50

Huntington Beach is a seaside town about 1 hour south of Los Angeles and is famously known as Surf City USA. The pier in Huntington Beach juts out into the Pacific Ocean and at 1,850 feet long is the longest pier on the west coast. Photo © copyright by Edith Levy.


A long exposure photograph of the Newport Beach Pier located in Newport Beach in California.

Newport Beach Pier

Newport Beach, California

Limited Edition of 50

Newport Beach is a beach town about an hour south of LA in Orange County. It's known for its beautiful beaches, nature preserve and family friendly activities. If you're driving south from LA, Newport Beach is located between Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach. The Newport Beach Pier is on of 2 piers located in Newport Beach. Photo © copyright by Edith Levy.

A long exposure photograph of Scripps Pier in La Jolla, California with the smoothed waves crashing against the pier & the golden sunset reflecting in the water

Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier

La Jolla, California

Limited Edition of 50

Every photographer has a list of bucket list items of places they want to go to and photograph. For me, Scripps Pier in La Jolla has been on that list for a very long time. It's a location that's been photographed often and I've enjoyed viewing images of it but I wanted to be on location and shoot it myself and create my own version with my vision.

I was in La Jolla for only a few days and I had planned to shoot the pier at sunset unfortunately I was there during what the locals call "May Gray". On the first evening the afternoon was so overcast and heavy with clouds that I knew that sunset would be a bust and the second evening was shaping up the same way. My third day showed a bit more promise. The sun came out in the early afternoon but then the heavy grey clouds rolled in. With only two evenings left I decided to to head out and see what mother nature had in store for me.

Patience pays off and while it wasn't the spectacular sunset I was hoping for there was a few minutes when the sun cracked through the clouds that produced a golden reflection in the water. Sometimes that's all you need for the magic to happen. Coupled with the long exposure that smoothed out the water and the waves I finally got the shot that I was hoping for.

Photo © copyright by Edith Levy.

A long exposure photograph of Scripps Pier in La Jolla, California with the smoothed waves crashing against the pier & the golden sunset reflecting in the water

Scripps Pier

La Jolla, California

Limited Edition of 50

Every photographer has a list of bucket list items of places they want to go to and photograph. For me, Scripps Pier in La Jolla has been on that list for a very long time. It's a location that's been photographed often and I've enjoyed viewing images of it but I wanted to be on location and shoot it myself and create my own version with my vision.

I was in La Jolla for only a few days and I had planned to shoot the pier at sunset unfortunately I was there during what the locals call "May Gray". On the first evening the afternoon was so overcast and heavy with clouds that I knew that sunset would be a bust and the second evening was shaping up the same way. My third day showed a bit more promise. The sun came out in the early afternoon but then the heavy grey clouds rolled in. With only two evenings left I decided to to head out and see what mother nature had in store for me.

Patience pays off and while it wasn't the spectacular sunset I was hoping for there was a few minutes when the sun cracked through the clouds that produced a golden reflection in the water. Sometimes that's all you need for the magic to happen. Coupled with the long exposure that smoothed out the water and the waves I finally got the shot that I was hoping for. Photo © copyright by Edith Levy.

La Jolla Cove, California

Photo © copyright by Edith Levy.

The Social Network

The Social Network

La Jolla Cove, California

Photo © copyright by Edith Levy.

La Jolla Cove, California

Photo © copyright by Edith Levy.

Laguna Beach Path

Laguna Beach Path

Laguna Beach, California

Photo © copyright by Edith Levy.