Fall Vacation in Laguna Beach

Summer vacation ended today for the tourists, and fall “vacation” started for the locals in Laguna Beach. The Pacific Coast Highway, moving at a snail’s pace all summer, flowed at a pleasant cruise. Swimsuit-clad pedestrians weren’t overrunning the town like astray Walkers. Heck, today is even the last day of the Pageant of the Masters (yes, that pageant in which George Bluth plays God is a real thing). Finally, the weather, hot and overcast for several the last few months, was cool and gorgeous today.

I noticed that gorgeous weather (more specifically, a nice cloud-filled sky) shortly before sunset, and thought I should roll the dice and try shooting it. I stated this in my previous Laguna Beach, California Photos post, but pretty much every previous time I went to photograph the sunset this summer I had been burned with a pattern that seemed to repeat itself: the siren song of breaking clouds in the late afternoon lure me down to the beach, I get excited for what looks like a potentially epic sunset, cloud cover quickly fills in 20 minutes just before sunset, and I go home with my head hung in shame.

This same pattern repeated itself so many times, and it became so difficult trying to find parking and deal with the hordes of other people on the beaches that I finally just resolved myself to just give it a rest for a while. So, when I saw the partial cloud cover this afternoon, I wasn’t quick to get my hopes up too much. I quickly ran upstairs, grabbed my camera bag, and jumped in the car, figuring there was a decent chance I’d miss the good light, regardless.

However, as soon as I headed down the PCH, it seemed like things were different. There was no traffic, no dozens of wayward beach-goers randomly crossing the road, and the air was cool.

When I got to the beach by the Montage Resort, overlooking Treasure Island, I was greeted by this stunning late afternoon light. At this point, it was about 20 minutes before sunset, and the sky was already looking optimal. Based on the low-level clouds on the horizon, I knew I needed to act fast, so I didn’t even bother setting up a tripod. I fired off a few frames here, then went down to the beach itself.

There, I did set up my tripod, hoping those low-level clouds on the horizon would break just enough for a stunning light show just after sunset. They did not (I guess it’s still summer in one way!), so I’m really glad I grabbed this “safety net” shot up by the Montage before heading down.

All in all, I can’t complain. It was a really pleasant evening, and I came away with a shot I like. Plus, now I’m really looking forward to (or as the locals say, “stoked” about) getting out and shooting more, and excited for fall in California!

This photo was taken by me with my Nikon D810 and Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 Lens. No tripod.

To get some more Laguna Beach photo ideas, check out my Laguna Beach Photo Gallery.

If you’re planning a California road trip or vacation, check out my California category of posts for other things to see and do. For photo licensing inquires, please contact me.

Your Thoughts…

What do you think of this shot? Are you excited for the fall photography season? Interested in visiting this beach? Have any questions or other thoughts? Please share below in the comments!

4 replies
  1. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    I was gifted with a ticket to Pageant of the Masters, and needless to say, went back and watched the Arrested Development episode before going. I’m not sure if you went or not, but it was actually really cool. Definitely a must-do in SoCal. I came in fairly cynical, and left planning to make it an annual tradition.

    • Tom Bricker
      Tom Bricker says:

      My attitude towards it is fairly cynical as well, but I’ve heard from several people now that it’s actually really, legitimately cool. I guess we will have to make a point to go next year!

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