Photographing an LA Icon: Walt Disney Concert Hall

Walt Disney Concert Hall is the most interesting building in downtown LA, if not in all of CA, and is considered a Frank Gehry icon throughout the world.  It is quite a sight in the middle of the day, but can be hard to photograph because of its metallic skin.  Mary and I decided to photograph it at night in all of its glory.  Here is what it looked like.

First, you will definitely need a tripod for the long exposures.  Most of these were shot at 800 ISO, f/16, and exposures between 2 and 15 seconds.  The small aperture also creates the “stars” in the lights.  It may take some trial and error for exposure times as there is a big contrast between the highlights and low lights.  As is our usual advice, you will want to go wide to get the whole thing and then concentrate on the details.

The best and most fun compositions are clearly the architectural abstracts.  With so many sharp edges, straight lines, and curves, there are an infinite number of photos here.  Walk around the building and have fun with it.  There were also numerous sources of light that gave off interesting color as you can see in the “gold” reflection off of the steel skin.

The entrance to the Walt Disney Concert Hall is located at the corner of 1st Street and Grand in the Music Center complex.  Obviously, if you want to photograph the site without a lot of people, make sure there is no concert.  By the way, we have seen quite a few concerts at the site and it is a great venue and fun place to eat, hear music, and hang out.  To see more of photos, please go to

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