Chasing The Sun: Santa Barbara Sunset Off Stearns Wharf Pier
Ask the kids what Mama loves most (after Daddy and them, of course), and they’ll tell you that I love sunsets. This fanatical love has grown gradually over the years, maturing out of my adoration of the beach and a grand appreciation of our world’s vastness.
But the sunset is so peaceful. It comes without our will – whether we want it to or not – and is as diverse as anything gets. Tucking behind mountain tops, set ablaze or hidden by clouds, I am an equal opportunity sunset lover! Though my favorite is watching from a west-facing beach – where the sun touches and sets directly into the horizon – I’m excited to explore the world’s offerings.
So what’s a geeky mom to do with this sunset obsession? Study it, of course! I might be the only person on the planet to do so, but before we pick a hotel or landmark, I research it’s sunset. Usually I’m looking for images, so maybe this post will help some other sunset obsessed traveler visiting Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara, California.
Santa Barbara Sunset Off Stearns Wharf Pier
Santa Barbara’s 2.5 mile south-facing coastline is divided by Stearns Wharf pier into East Beach and West Beach. Stearns Wharf is a deep water pier that was completed in 1872 and now is dotted with shops and restaurants with a large, open area at the end that provides an unobstructed view of it’s south-facing view. It jets out into the ocean, providing impressive sunset sights.
On the day we visited, we arrived about an hour before sunset (which changes throughout the years, so make sure check the time!) and took our time as we strolled down the pier. The pier offers ample views from each direction, but the real shows comes off it’s end and right hand side/west-facing) side as you’re walking down it.
Photography is all about the manipulation of light, so when you know where the sun will set, you can determine how to manipulate it’s light to capture the images you want. Here are a few photography tips for capturing your family’s joy as they chase the sun on Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara:
- Because the coastline is south-facing, the sun will set to the right of the pier (if you’re facing west/towards the ocean). Exactly where it touches the horizon will change during the year, but shoot your silhouette images from the right side of the pier to create the most contrast.
- Dusk is STUNNING from Stearns Wharf. Seriously, the landscape and port life is a beautiful backdrop to the stunning artistry of the sunset. So don’t rush to leave as soon as the sun sets… stay upwards of an hour after to catch the scenery aglow.
- Face into the pier to shoot the soft lighting of the south-west facing sunset. Sure you don’t get the water view, but the lighting is still wonderful.
- Looking south (to the left of the pier as you’re facing west), the sun will cast plenty light on Santa Barbara’s West Beach. I didn’t shoot much for this vantage point, but it was pretty nonetheless.
Overall, the sunset off Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara, California was peaceful and understated. The pier jetting out far enough into the ocean to provide this perspective was my favorite part of the sunset. We enjoyed several other beach-side during out trip (notably from West Beach), but this sunset was by far my favorite of the trip.
This sunset was in January (actually, it was the last of 2015!), but I’d love to visit again in the summer months to compare. Until next time, Santa Barbara! We loved you!