My experience photographing the Hermosa Pier was much better than when I when to the Santa Monica Pier. Parking was much easier in Hermosa and there was way less people and photographers crowding around. I had the whole purple hour basically to myself. The purple hour is that hour after the sun goes down when the sky transitions from blue into the black starry sky. The combination of the blue sky and the orange and red sunsets turns the sky purple or pink. This is also a great time because if you set your aperture high enough you can get really nice long exposures that smooth out the water. I accidently set my exposure too high in this photo which made it so you could see all the water particles that where stuck to my lens from the mist created by the waves. It took me forever to paint them all out. You probably don't want to shoot much higher than an f16 at a beach because of the mist that collects on the lens.
I think this photo could potentially fall into the "it looks unreal" category. But really this photo isn't too far off from what was really at the scene at the time. It was a very vibrant night with lot of smog on the horizon. Timing is everything with photography. I have this exact same photo I took ten minutes before this shot and it's nothing like it. With a three shot HDR I was able to merge the images and tonemapped them to enhance the colors in detail. The long exposure helped make the water look silky and smooth.
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