Coronado Island is a one-of-a-kind place

The Dell Coronado Hotel (pano)

The Dell Coronado Hotel (pano) (ISO 100, 75 mm, 0 ev, f/11, 1/200 sec, 20 shot pano in-camera)

I have always enjoyed the shoreline, especially the Strand on Coronado Island in San Diego California. My wife and I stayed across the street from the famous 125 year old Del Coronado hotel this June. We’d stayed there 3 years ago about the same time of year and the weather then was brrrrr cold, the upper 60’s in the daytime and lower in the evenings.

This year however temps were a beautiful 70-80ish all week long. Each day a sunny wonder. Beaches full of people and theme parks stuffed with patrons. The Del was celebrating its 125th year of operation and was even decked out with a gold bow around its highest parapet.

125th year celebration at the Del Coronado

125th year celebration at the Del Coronado (Sony A77, ISO 100, 18 mm, 0 ev, f/13, 1/125 sec, Auto WB)

At night the hotel is all lit with dramatic lighting and with the nearly full moon it looked romantic and inviting. The image looked great at ISO 8000 shot with the Canon G12. It did require a lot of noise reduction but it came out really nice.

I love to sit outside patio in the evening sipping a Starbucks coffee. Of course at the Del my grande’ Starbucks coffee costs $4.11 as opposed to $2.10 down the street at the Starbucks but the view and ambiance makes up for the $2 buck surcharge.

The Del Coronado Hotel at night

The Del Coronado Hotel at night (Canon G12, ISO 8000, 9 mm, 0 ev, f/3.2, 1/20 sec, Auto WB)

We’ve been here quite a few times but for some reason I’d never taken pictures of San Diego at night from across the water from Centennial Park on Coronado Island.

Centennial Park location

Centennial Park location

This area along the waterway is full of shipping activity from banana boats to aircraft carriers all day long. So since the weather at night was what I’d call “convertible weather”, I parked my tripod at the shoreline and looked across at the exceptional lights from the city.

Moon over San Diego

Moon over San Diego (Sony A77, ISO 200, f/3.5, 0.8 sec, 25 mm, 0 ev, White Balance Tungsten)

I love how the reflections play across the ripples in the water and seem to amplify the colors of the buildings along the shore. I never know when I shoot these kind of images just what kind of white balance I want to use or if I like landscape mode or portrait mode. In this case I clicked through my WB control and selected what seemed to be the closest match to what I saw across the water. But I feel what you set your camera to depends on what you like…or what will sell better. This Tungsten version may be appreciated by those who must have an exact version of what they see with their eyes.

San Diego Skyline from Centennial Park

San Diego Skyline from Centennial Park (Sony A77, ISO 1600, 16 mm, f/2.8, 1/5 sec, 0 ev, White Balance-Auto)

Others may want a warmer look like this image. I let the A77 select the whole works and was taken entirely on automatic. While this looks nice there is quite a bit of digital noise in this photo and had to be handled after the fact using NICs Dfine 2.0. It takes most of the noise out but the sky still looks kind of funky. It’s just when you print these overly processed high ISO shots they become soft and the sky smudges on large prints. For internet use at 72 dpi it looks okay. The previous vertical shot is much smoother in the sky area since it was shot at ISO 200 which is handled pretty well in-camera.

On the other hand… here’s a shot taken inside the Birch aquarium in La Jolla that was shot  without flash at ISO 1600 and it looks pretty good. Go figure.

Seahorse (ISO 1600, 30 mm, 0 ev, f/3.2, 1/60 sec, Auto WB, no flash, pattern metering mode)

Seahorse (ISO 1600, 30 mm, 0 ev, f/3.2, 1/60 sec, Auto WB, no flash, pattern metering mode)

All-in-all I did get my shot, many of them actually of the night time cityscape that I was going for on this trip so I consider it a great photo opportunity achieved. Along with those night shots,  the aquarium images and night hotel shots were just gravy on the biscuit. Did I tell you about the perfectly exposed beach shots yet? Oh well. Maybe next time.

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