From Pier to Infinity – Oceanside, California

| April 11, 2011
oceanside pier california

A perfect day’s ending at the pier in Oceanside, California

Although this is a sunset shot, I started planning it early the same morning. Oceanside was only about 20 minutes north of where I was staying in Carlsbad last week so I got up at 5:00am one morning and ran up to the pier to scope a photographic location. My plan was to return later that day to try and capture a brilliant sunset. The weather was quite unsettled all week so I was not sure what I was going to get. Frankly, for me, that is what generates some of the excitement in photography.

I wanted some clouds but not too many and, of course, pretty colors as the sun went down. Fortunately I got everything I wanted in this shot. My first order of business was to build a composition from the available elements. I wanted a clean and interesting foreground, the pier, the ocean and the sunlit sky. How they would present was up to fate to some degree due to the changing weather conditions. I feel that the foreground anchors the shot and the vectors of the pier take the eye to the point of infinity where the sunset on the horizon takes over. I was almost giddy when the sun started piercing the clouds and created those glorious rays of light in the distance.

I had to climb the rocks to take the shot. It was a little precarious but I was able to find three rocks upon which to perch my tripod legs. Once positioned, it was a waiting game. I constantly analyzed the scene to capture my vision of the perfect scene. To help the mood along, I took my circular polarizer and 3-stop neutral density filter and held them in front of my lens to slow the shutter down. That is what enabled me to lengthen the exposure and create the foggy water effect. Basically the shutter stayed open as the foamy waves moved in and out. The end result is the angelic like fog you see around the rocks.

The high dynamic range of this photo required me to build it from three exposures. It is not tonemapped in Photomatix. I just took the best exposed elements from the three photos and blended them together using Photoshop CS5. All in, I spent about three hours bringing everything together.

Shot with the Canon 5D MKII using Canon’s 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM wide angle lens.


Category: Photography, Travel

Comments (9)

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  1. Absolutely jaw-droppingly beautiful Lee!

  2. Teresa says:

    Stunning, absolutely STUNNING!

  3. Man this shot is awesome Lee – great work! I love the foggy water in the foreground and leading line created by the bridge.

  4. jill polsby says:

    gorgeous, gorgeous!!

  5. AutumnLeaves says:

    An absolutely stunning shot, Lee. Wow!

  6. Chris Wray says:

    Top drawer. Love to see more like this.

  7. Ryan Sexton says:

    Amazing shot! spending 3 hours on this was defiantly not a wasted day, it really paid off.

  8. Rebecca Wang says:

    Stunning photograph! Would be great to make this into another painting challenge!

  9. Lee says:

    Thanks all. This was fun one to take and process. I plan to go back again and see what else happens. It is a great location to shoot!