One of the best things about living in Los Angeles is that there is such a variety of places to visit on your doorstep. The urban streets of Hollywood and Downtown, the colorful and serene beaches of Venice and Malibu, the mountains and snow fields of Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead and the desert of Joshua Tree National Park can all be accessed within a short drive.

Point Vicente Lighthouse and the nearby Korean Friendship Bell are another amazing location within 45mins of Los Angeles. The California coastline is some of the most beautiful in the world and a must visit if you are in the LA or San Francisco areas.



Point Vicente Lighthouse:

The lighthouse was built in 1926 was listed on the National Register of Historical Places in the early 1980’s. The light was manned until 1971, and was automated but the coast guard since. Dimmed during World War II to avoid aiding the enemy, the original lamp was replaced with an LED light in 2015.

The tower sits right on the edge of the cliff-face that falls away dramatically to the narrow beach below. Open for tours on the second Saturday of every month, the surrounding grounds are not accessible at other times. There is ample parking outside the entrance gate.

There are a number of great locations North of the lighthouse that offer a few different points of view. All a very short walk from one another, I found it easy to move between them throughout the course of the sunset. As there has been a lot more rain than normal this year, a number of bushes were flowering yellow and purple colors which made for interesting foregrounds.

I found a wide angle lens coupled with a mid to telephoto lens a good option where the 21mm allowed me to capture more of the surrounding scene and ocean, where as the 75mm was an interesting crop, but perhaps a little too tight. I think the sweet spot here would be 35-50mm.

The sunset really changes the color and lighting on the front face of the rocks, so its good to be here early and take a number of photos throughout to capture different looks. I also utilized a 64x ND filter on a number of these images to slow down my shutter speed to 8-30 seconds as the daylight disappeared. This allowed me to capture some really smooth water and clouds with the longer shutter speed.

I also like using HDR for these types of images so that I can capture the full range as the ground and bushes in the foreground compared to the bright sky in a wider lens can be quite difficult to capture. Obviously using very subtle processing techniques to ensure I don’t get that fake overdone HDR look.

Korean Friendship Bell:

The Korean Friendship bell is one of those locations that does not at all look like its in LA! The bell was presented by the South Korean government to the US in 1976. A massive bronze bell that housed in a stone pavilion that took 10 months to build. 12 feet in height and 7 and a half feet in diameter, its decorated in a relief of traditional scenes.

The bell is struck fives times a year, New Year’s Eve, Korean American Day January 13th), the 4th of July, Korean Liberation Day (August 15th, and Constitution Day (September 17th).

Restored in 2013, the building is beautifully painted and has many interesting angles and features that a fun to photograph. Due to its amazing location looking out over the ocean and surrounded by a park, the background is just as impressive.

The park nearby is often filled with people picnicking and flying kits due to the high winds.

Across the park is one of the most amazing basketball courts I have visited. With the impressive backdrop of the ocean, this court is extremely photogenic.

With the almost continuous great weather in Southern California, visiting these locations are safe all year round for excellent sunrises and sunsets. If you are visiting in sunrise, the best location for the Lighthouse is south, and for sunset, the northern lookout points are best so that you are not shooting into the sun.


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