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Photo Tour of Santa Monica Pier and Arlington West - the end of Route 66

Several months back, in fact on Super Bowl Sunday, I joined the L.A. based meetup group, L.A. Nighttime Photography Meetup, for a shoot at the Santa Monica Pier. Having never been there, I felt like a kid at Disneyland. Despite the enormously popular football event taking place on television at that time, the pier was mobbed. I was amazed to see what the Santa Monica Pier had to offer like dining, riding a roller coaster or ferris wheel, enjoying an acquarium, playing arcade games, taking in a sunset, shopping, and people watching. To learn more specifics about the pier and activities there, you can visit their website at

I arrived shortly before sunset and while I was waiting for the others in the group, I discovered that a memorial was set up along the north border of the pier. This sea of short white crosses stood nearly perfect in spacing and symmetry. I remember just standing there for a moment taking in this spectacular sight before asking around to learn about it. I learned that this memorial is known as Arlington West Memorial and each cross represents American military personnel who've lost their lives in the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can learn more about this memorial by visiting I was so impressed to learn that volunteers set up every single cross and decoration every Sunday morning at sunrise and tear it down again that same day at sunset. Amazing!

I found out that night that when the famous U.S. Route 66 was revised during one realignment of the route, the Santa Monica Pier had become the end of the line. Route 66, otherwise known as Will Rogers Highway and Main Street of America, was born in Missouri in 1926 and was originally intended to connect Chicago to Los Angeles. It since has become a household name due to numerous renditions of a pop culture song written by Bobby Troup and also a hit television show in the 1960s by the same name.

The sunset that night was awesome! I was stalking these two below so that I could get a nice "people shot" with the sunset.

As the sun went down the meetup group and I started walking down the pier to look for things and people to photograph.

This vendor below was painting on a ceramic tile using only his fingers and fingernails. He had some work on display that was really impressive.

My main interest in nighttime photography is long exposures and my main interest in this particular photography event was the opportunity to shoot a brightly lit ferris wheel at night and to capture the motion of the wheel on a 15 or 30 second exposure. Here's what I captured:

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