Continuing from my last post, where I discussed a short snorkeling video I made in Hawai’i late last month, here we look at a few images of the Waimea Pier that I made early the next morning.
While we were in Po’ipu, on the south side of Kaua’i, we had browsed through the galleries of a few resident photographers. There were many great images, but one that stood out to me was of a pier (not sure which one) with smooth, ghostly water in the foreground. I decided to try to make an image like that myself.
I realized that given the equipment I had, in particular lacking a strong neutral density filter, I was going to need to do this in relatively low light conditions. To get the effect I wanted with the water, I needed an exposure of at least a few seconds. Even with a very small aperture, to avoid over-exposure, that was going to require the sun to be below the horizon.
So early the next morning, around 5am, well before the sun was up, I pushed myself out of bed, hopped in the car, and drove to the Waimea Pier, about a mile up the road from our cottage. I wandered up and down the beach with my camera and tripod, trying different vantage points of the pier, including both facing (almost) into the sunrise and away from it, as well as directly under and over the pier. Some of these shots are shown below.
You can see as the shots progress, dawn is breaking and ambient light is increasing. By the end, the sun is up, and the water is completely resolved, destroying the illusion of a smooth ghostly surface. At this point, it was no longer interesting to photograph the water, so I tried a shot of the top of the pier, using the lines formed by the railing to converge on the picnic table. In hindsight, I should have tried to get the picnic table above the level of the horizon, fitting in that bit of sky inside the covering, perhaps by getting down lower, or moving in closer to the table.
As for the early shots, which are what I really went to collect that morning, I am fondest of the third one, although I never really did get the angle I wanted on the pier. I would have had to have gone further out, perhaps if the beach had curved around, to get the angle I was really looking for, putting the sunrise behind the pier. Still, I like the way the rocks in the foreground provide a nice sharp contrast to the smooth water, and balance the mass at the end of the pier in the opposite corner of the image. It isn’t too far off from my pre-visualization.
In the future, to collect a shot like this, a heavy ND filter would be useful, just to give me more options on exposure, especially as the sun begins to rise. But despite the pain of getting up so early, especially while on vacation, there is no way to beat being on the scene well before sunrise.