I confess to being a sucker for piers. The long lines of a pier create interest and can be framed to lead the eye into the image and create the perception of depth; it creates a visual as well as physical bridge between the land and the sea; and the conceptual contrast of a man-made object with an otherwise natural scene adds another layer of interest to the photograph. So when I saw this one while I was wandering along the beach in La Jolla, California, a week or two ago, I just had to photograph it.
I actually had a different picture in mind – I was hoping to find some rocks or other foreground interest on a beach that stretched into the distance with nothing but sand and water to be seen. Despite failing to find any rocks on this beach, the pier more than made up for it.
I had both my Singh-Ray Vari-ND and Lee Big Stopper ND filters with me and used both together in combination to slow the exposure at 3.00 pm on a bright and sunny Californian afternoon to a massive five minutes. I could have achieved the blurred-water effect I was looking for here with a much shorter exposure than that, but I was experimenting to see at what focal length I would see vignetting with this filter combination on the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens I was using - the answer is ’28 mm’. ‘Vignetting’ occurs when the filter frame or holder protrudes far enough forward of the front lens element that it begins to encroach upon the field of view of the lens; wide-angle lenses suffer more because of their wider field of view. Vignetting is clearly visible through the viewfinder of an SLR camera – the filter holder appears as a blurred dark object at the periphery of the frame.
I’m pleased to say that I did find the rocks I was looking for at the end of the day, on another beach, when twilight was fast approaching – that was the shot I posted last week.
As ever, click on the image above to see it larger.