Over the holidays I spent time with family and friends in Southern California. While there I also took hundreds of photos of the South Bay, thanks to a string of remarkable weather.

Many, if not most, of these photos were of the Point Vicente Lighthouse, arguably one of the most beautiful spots in the South Bay. Despite its beauty — and its proximity to where I grew up — it’s a difficult place to photograph, due to the orientation of the sun, particularly in summer.

Sensing a unique opportunity in late December, I visited the lighthouse five or six times over the course of the week.  I couldn’t have asked for better conditions, including a couple of stunning sunsets, but I still struggled to find a suitable composition. On more than one occasion, I did something out of character: I put down my camera, and I just enjoyed the moment.

Since I’m a sucker for piers, I also visited a couple of Southern California’s most famous beaches, including Hermosa, Huntington, and Manhattan.  One particular evening, I arrived at the beach a few minutes before sunset.  The conditions looked promising, so I rushed down to the pier, believing — or perhaps hoping — that I would have the beach all to myself.  Boy was I wrong.

As I approached the pier, I saw a line of 30+ photographers, all waiting to capture an “original” photo of the Huntington Beach Pier.  I surveyed the scene, chuckled, and then tried to wedge my way into a tangled web of photographers and tripods. I took a couple of photos (see below) but eventually gave up.

All in all it was great to spend part of the holidays in Southern California.  And, it was even better to do it with family — and favorable weather.

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