It’s funny to think when you look for an interesting foreground element that there may be more history behind it than you would have imagined.
I wanted to photograph the remains of the old pier at West Beach in Massachusetts. I was hoping to get a misty, long exposure but I hadn’t been to the location before so I wasn’t sure what to expect or what type of tide I needed. I looked at the tide charts for Saturday 14th and it appeared to be low tide at sunrise. I thought that may not be what I needed but I decided to get up at 4.00am and head up the coast for a 6.00am sunrise to check out the place. The tide charts are available online and this was the one I used
When I arrived the parking was closed and there was no on street parking. Seems to be the way everywhere these days. Don’t people know there are photos to be taken?
Anyway I parked on a side street, safely but probably not 100% legally. As I walked to the beach I saw a couple sitting on the sand waiting to watch the sunrise. Very romantic or the TV is broken. I made my along the beach to the posts of the old pier and it looked great with many possibilities. Unfortunately the pier was high up on the beach and the tide was just a little bit too far out to get the type of shot I wanted. The shots looked good anyway, but I planned to return two days later (today) when the tide was going to be higher. The weather looked like it was going to cooperate too, so I was up again at 4.00am and off to the beach.
This time the tide was better, but I would still like it higher so I may return once more. Clouds were turning pink, the water was around the pier posts, tripod is up. I’m ready. Long exposure here we come!
Anyway, I thought I’d describe a little about how I took the misty looking shots and how the long exposure compares to a faster, “regular” shutter speed.
I was aiming for 2-5minute exposures which meant I needed to move to bulb mode. I have a Canon 5D MkIV and I use Lee filters which are very simple to interchange. I started with a Lee Little Stopper which is 6 stops (1.8 ND filter) and took a 3 minute shot but the sky was over-exposed so I added a Lee 0.9 ND grad filter and this fixed the exposure problem. The light is also changing rapidly so other adjustments need to made as you continue and I used a 10stop (Big Stopper) after sunrise with the same grad.
This is with a faster shutter speed of 1/13sec, f16, ISO 100, 24mm. Nice but lacking something.
Here is a similar shot, moments later with the filters on with bulb mode. The ISO, FL and aperture were the same but now the exposure is 53seconds. It has a much cleaner and aesthetically appealing feel (IMO)
The shot below is the one I liked best from the morning which was an even longer exposure (143sec), about 10minutes before sunrise where the clouds were pink and the tide was looking good.
By the way, although the posts are interesting from a photography perspective, the actual pier looked quite impressive in its day. It was destroyed in the blizzard of 1978.
I was imagining all those people over the century who had walked along, jumped off and sailed from this pier which is now my rustic relic for a foreground.