• Activities:

    Chillin, Photography

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Year Round

Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Handicap Accessible
Lake
Picnic Area
Romantic
Scenic

Lake Murray is a nestled away location only twenty minutes outside the city of San Diego. The lake is a prime location for sunrise and sunset pictures because of the background scenery and open field of view. Having so many vantage points for great pictures is a goldmine to photographers. 

Lake Murray Reservoir provides drinking water to parts of San Diego, and thus is a no swimming lake. This is one of the reasons it is such a great place to photograph! 

If you are shooting the sunset, use this app to check the time the sun sets, and get to the lake at least 30 minutes prior to set up your scene. I like to spend ten minutes or so searching for a great vantage point. The beauty of Lake Murray is its small circular shape with the mountains in the background. This makes almost any vantage point a spectacular one. 

Once you've found your perfect spot, set up your tripod, plug in your remote release, and find your shot. I like to use a neutral density filter on my Nikon, with my 18-55mm lens as wide as it can go. The n/d filter allows you to leave the shutter open for 15-45 seconds to get a nice creamy effect on your sunset. I set my camera to bulb mode, start with a aperture of f10, with the lowest ISO setting your camera offers. Start with a 5-second exposure, and judge whether you need to increase or decrease the time based on the photo. When the sun is still setting, 5-15 seconds will be perfect. But once the sun has set, you will need to leave the shutter open a bit longer to capture the colors. Look to shoot on days that aren't completely overcast, but have some scattered clouds in the sky. This will give you a spectacular sky full of colors.

Lake Murray is open 7 days a week, from 5:30AM to 8:00 PM. Parking is free, and usually abundant. Saturday and Sunday mornings/afternoons are the busiest times at the lake, so plan accordingly. A small bait shop in the main parking lot offers snacks and refreshments, but if you're looking for something a bit more hardy, head over to one of the numerous shops or eateries in the nearby town of La Mesa.  

Pack List

  • Camera 
  • Tripod
  • Extra batteries
  • Your widest angle lens
  • Wired/Wireless shutter release
  • Extra memory card 
  • Water
  • Jacket (if shooting at sunset)
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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