South Bay, the southern curve of Santa Monica Bay, has some of the best photo locations in So Cal that hardly anyone knows. Here are 11 South Bay shots done in the last month.
Madrona Marsh is a photo location that hides in plain sight. This square block of real estate is literally a street away from the Del Amo Fashion Center, one of the largest malls in America. It’s bound on the south by Sepulveda and Carson Ave on the north. And with all the recent rains, I figured I’d give it a shot or two.
I’ve never seen this much lake at Madrona, about half the marsh area. There are plenty of ducks there now. I even saw a couple of swans. But the stillness of the place is the draw.
Just west of Riviera Village is a great overlook of Torrance Beach and the northern edge of the cliffs of Palos Verdes. Palos Verde Peninsula is the highest spot along the South Bay and shots from here are a nice change from the usual beachy stuff.
And if you’re at the beach, you might as well do the classic beach shot. It’s nice when nature does what you want.
Bluff Cove from the South
Bluff Cove is one of my favorite PV shot locations. But on this evening, I just stopped by for a second on my way further south on PV Drive. There’s a nice pull-off just at the top of that hill. Not sure why, but there were no real waves at Bluff Cove that evening and just a couple of bored surfers.
I noticed a grizzled bush as I was shooting and I had to add that in for some foreground.
If you look closely at the shot above, you’ll notice a mansion above Bluff Cove. And just above that is the LA skyline. Hard to imagine you’re still in LA County. But then, that feeling of remoteness is one reason the real estate here is so dear.
Point Vicente Lighthouse
Head a few miles further down PV Drive and you see the exit for Point Vicente Interpretive Center and Lighthouse. I’ve taken way too many shots of the lighthouse and most aren’t any good. So I added a foreground element. That’s probably Catalina in the distance.
Abalone Cove State Park
Eventually Palos Verde Drive follows the curve of the cliffs to the east. And just a mile past the Terranea Resort is a turnoff for Abalone Cove.
Abalone’s known for having some of the best tidal pools in the area. And I like working the rocks here for unusual abstractions.
Palos Verde Peninsula is truly one of the overlooked wonders of LA County. People think of it as an area for rich folks (if they know it at all). But there are a pile of spots along PV Drive that are amazing photo locations. Just head south from Riviera Village on the Drive and once you start up the hill, take a right on Via Corta/Via Almar and continue down till you get to Paseo Del Mar.
As you drive along Paseo Del Mar, the road heads up hill and at one spot there’s an area with no fancy houses on the right side. Usually you’ll see lots of cars pulled over. The spot is popular with surfers, especially in the morning hours. And that’s when I visited a couple of weeks back.
Bluff Cove — notice the section of cliff that juts into the ocean
The path down to the beach
This bend in the path is the turnoff to one of my fav photo spots.
The path down is steep here. But luckily there’s a rope that helps ensure a safe footing. Shooting the area in morning light definitely helps and the ocean mist gives a nice bit of diffusion.
Part of the fun of Bluff Cove is trying to capture the denizens of this ocean world in action and in composition.
This spot also works for those who like to shoot abstract texture.
I didn’t get enough for ground interest in this view up the coast (see below) until I slowed the shutter speed. I didn’t bring the tripod but going hand-held seemed to do the job:
Looking north 1/25 sec
Looking north 1/5 sec
And, or course if you’re getting some nice surf coming in, you want to capture the moment of impact in a way that works in composition: