Pilings at Dusk

Shot Info:  Canon 5D with Canon 70-200 at 73mm.  Set to ISO 400 and exposed at f/16 for 20 seconds.


I love the beach.  As a child I spent my summers along the Jersey coast fishing, swimming, and exploring.  I grew to appreciate the changing coastline, how each cycle of the tides could rearrange and change the sandy landscape.  The Atlantic was never still for long, and storms would frequently tear down man’s attempts of manipulating and controlling this stretch of water and land.  Many times whole sections of beach would get washed out to sea only to have “enlightened” officials pump the sand right back up, ready for the next big storm.  In many ways that “taming” of nature always seemed somewhat silly to me, and instead I was drawn to areas and images where nature was patiently reclaiming  its place.

This is a photograph of an old section of dock taken along the Cape May (southern New Jersey) coastline.  I was drawn to this area by the simple intersecting lines and harmony of water and timber.  It actually took a little planning to get to this spot at the perfect time.  On my first trip here everything was almost completely underwater.  With the help of a tide calendar I was able to come back a week later, when the water level and evening light were both perfect.  As you can see, I chose a long 20 second exposure to smooth out the water and enhance the calm I felt.  I also exposed for the brighter sky and water, letting the pilings go black.  This helped create an abstract quality that I liked in the final image.  The hardest part was framing the photograph so that it remained balanced without the black pilings overwhelming any one section of the image… well that, and not getting hit by a rouge wave.

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