12 Best California photography locations of 2010

Discover my favorite photo spots of 2010.

2009’s top list was very successful. Many of my readers appreciated the short summary and keeping with this tradition, I hereby present to you my favorite places of 2010. This year was very exciting. I introduced my new iPhone application, a travel companion that makes all my articles available for offline consumption. I have traveled to many new places, collecting photographs and ideas for new location guides, and much more. I have revisited many places and I have discovered new places as well.

Wrapping up another fantastic year of photography, gives me the chance to go back to some of my favorites again.


Kelso Dunes sunset

Kelso Dunes at sunset

January is a great time to visit the Kelso Dunes in the Mojave Desert. Desert scenes look fantastic in winter, due to the clouds that add vivid color to the otherwise bleak landscape. The temperatures are also more bearable than in summer.

The gigantic Kelso Dunes are located in the Mojave Desert, one of the least visited parks in California. The dunes are so large, that you can find a remote place without footprints or any other obstruction. The Kelso Dunes are my favorite place for dune photography in California.


Japanese Drum Bridge

Japanese Drum Bridge in Huntington Library Garden

If you haven’t been to the Huntington Library and Gardens in Pasadena, you missed one of the most amazing attractions in the Los Angeles area. Several themed gardens and fine exhibits will provide you with countless hours of entertainment and photo fun.


Japanese Tea Garden Entrance

Entrance to the Japanese Tea Garden

If you ever wanted to visit the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, you should consider a visit in March. The cherry blossoms will add color to an already vibrantly colorful garden. You have a small window of opportunity, during which the tea garden will shine at its maximum glory.


Storm Clouds over Poppy Field

Storm Clouds over Poppy Field

April is the time of the year when I drive long distances to take photographs of flowers. I resist Dani’s challenge to my manhood and decide to become a flower boy. The California Poppy Reserve in Antelope Valley is one of the most spectacular places to see the state flower lighting up entire landscapes. Nature’s impressive display of color brings me here and it is worth it, every  time.


Death Valley Racetrack Black and White

Death Valley Racetrack Black and White

I put off a visit to Death Valley’s Racetrack far too long. Park Rangers keep urban legends of a difficult road alive to keep people away, and travelers who “made it” perpetuate the story to bathe in heroism. It’s all rubbish! If you possess a healthy amount of common sense and natural fear, you will be fine. A visit to this remote area is a rewarding experience. The mysterious stones that slide across the desert floor, leave tracks on the dry lake bed that even puzzle scientists.


Plane Tails at Night - USS Midway

Plane Tails at Night - USS Midway

See the USS Midway, a retired aircraft carrier in the port of San Diego. Visiting this floating fortress is a humbling experience. It is hard to comprehend how any shipyard can build ships of this size.

My inner geek, which is fascinated by all things technical, is responsible for this nomination. If you like technical stuff, if you are inclined to pull out your camera at the sight of a shiny machine, the Midway will blow your mind.


Golden Gate from Fort Point

Golden Gate from Fort Point

Fort Point is a civil war fort that is located underneath the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The mix of location and history make the fort one of my favorite places in San Francisco, where the temperature is mild, even in summer. At the height of the travel season, you will find more people here than usual, but the views from the fort make it easy to leave people out or include them in your photographs according to your preference.


Mono Lake Sunrise

Mono Lake Sunrise

Take a drive through Yosemite’s Tioga Pass to Mono Lake, famous for its Tufa formations. Tufa, limestone formations that form at mineral rich underwater springs, have become visible due to water drainage. With these strange formations exposed above water, photographers will find an alien looking landscape unique in the world.


Tule Elk Bull

Tule Elk Bull

September is the end of the mating season for the Tule Elk, a perfect time for a visit to the Tule Elk Reserve in Point Reyes National Seashore. During the short hike, you will experience the majestic elk in their natural habitat.


Mobius Arch backlit

Mobius Arch backlit

In October, temperatures usually start to drop in the south-eastern parts of California, making a visit to the Alabama Hills a good idea, especially if you aren’t quite ready to let go of the summer yet.

The Alabama Hills have served as backdrop for many science fiction and western movies.  Today the Hills still captivate visitors with their beauty.


Engine Room Steering Wheel

Engine Room Steering Wheel

A Southern California landmark is my destination of choice for November. The RMS Queen Mary is a retired ocean liner from the golden age of transatlantic sea travel. It serves as a hotel and tourist attraction in Long Beach.

Discover how people of high society used to travel, visit the bridge and engine room, and go on a ghost tour through the hunted bowels of the ship. This ship is fun to visit and to photograph.




Avila Beach is the perfect destination year round. It is an off the beaten path, spectacularly beautiful beach destination along the Central Coast. The weather is pleasant most of the year but since beachgoers dot the sands of the cove in summer, I prefer winter.

With most of the tourists gone, the sea life reclaims the cove. There is less competition for restaurant seats and the tranquil relaxing atmosphere makes it a perfect getaway in December.

Come back soon to read about new destinations in 2011.

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  1. Posted 2010/12/28 at 17:01 | Permalink

    A wonderful selection of iconic California sites. Spectacular photos!

  2. Posted 2010/12/30 at 13:47 | Permalink

    Andre, nice of you to cherry pick from among your best. These are great places, I’m glad to have visited many of them, and used your tips. Your site has really been helpful to me this year. Keep up the good work and THANKS.

  3. Posted 2010/12/31 at 04:11 | Permalink

    What a beautiful year you have had and captured for us all. Happy New Year, Andre, and I look forward to another year of your superb photos.

  4. Posted 2011/01/06 at 20:00 | Permalink

    Beautiful selection! Each photo is a beauty and artwork!

  5. Sue Richardson
    Posted 2011/01/13 at 19:24 | Permalink

    I am so pleased to have found this site. I will be visiting it daily.

  6. Posted 2011/04/26 at 02:09 | Permalink


    I am interested in your photo……….. big-sur-yellow-flower-field……and wonder if it is available.

    Thank you,

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