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  • Writer's pictureDave Pidgeon

Sunburst over an adobe steeple

Updated: Jul 22, 2023

Right at the entrance to San Diego's Old Town State Historic Park stands an adobe church that captures your attention.

It's not ornate in anyway. It just seems to call out to a world long gone.

The cornerstone of the current church, known as the Church of the Immaculate Conception, was laid in 1868, and although the entire church wasn't completed until 1917, it seems a tether to a place Americans and Mexicans reach back to.

Sunburst above an adobe church steeple in San Diego.
Sometimes it pays to look even at a building from a different angle to see a worthwhile shot.

When we arrived in the area, all the people going in and out of the church's entrance made capturing it's exterior challenging.

Plus, it was mid-day. Not good for what I had envisioned.

But it was an hour later, as I walked down Twiggs Street ready to find some dinner, that I saw a different angle.

I saw the steeple from its northeast side, perfectly framed by a palm tree and some shrugs, with the sun placed in the upper right corner of the frame. That sunlight wrapped itself affectionally around its sharp corners and rounded openings.

See it in your mind. Then shoot it. And what the heat of the afternoon and the brightness of the sun demanded was a sunburst.

You get that by setting a narrow aperture, as narrow as you can get, f/22 in this case. I wanted the widest angle I could get (24mm in this case).

Sunburst, palm tree, adobe church steeple. About as good a San Diego afternoon shot as one could ask for.

Dave Pidgeon is a seasoned writer and photographer from Lancaster, Pa. You can reach him at

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