The Pier at Sandy Point is the second outer banks long exposure I've posted from my recent trip to the OBX in North Carolina. In case you missed it, my first photo from the trip was taken on the same morning as this photo and was a long exposure of the Manteo Lighthouse at sunrise. I ended up titling it Manteo Light.
This photo was a good lesson in paying attention to your surroundings while out shooting. I wrote a decent amount about this morning in my last post, but our workshops group had met to photograph the sunrise at the Manteo Lighthouse on shallowbag bay which is on the interior side of the Outer Banks. The dock leading it's way out to the lighthouse isn't incredibly large so with a group of people photographing the same scene we found ourselves taking turns to shoot from centered on the pier at the lighthouse. While waiting, I did what I usually do and looked around to see what else I could photograph in the area. We were in a marina and there wasn't a ton that was catching my eye other than a few different perspectives of the lighthouse. I photographed those and then this pier caught my attention.
This little pier is relatively low to the water and doesn't immediately stand out. But, I could tell from the lighthouse that it would at least be worth checking out. It pointed into the same skies I was photographing already and I knew from my shots of the lighthouse that they lent themselves well to longer exposures. So, I pulled out one of my favorite little tools: Google Maps. Seriously, for stuff like this, Google Maps is a photographer's best friend! Within a couple of seconds, I was looking at a satellite view of the shape of the pier and what was in the surrounding area. One click, and I knew the best place to park and how to walk there quickly. Not that it would have been impossible to figure that stuff out on my own, but the clouds were pushing through quickly and I wanted to be there before the scene changed to something less desirable. The group was going to be busy for a little bit it seemed, so I hopped in my car and made the short drive over to the pier.
I've found that I'm drawn to photos that can balance a serene and stormy scene into the same shot! Almost like the calm before the storm. One of the easiest ways I've found to portray a serene or balanced scene is through symmetry and this pier was an instant candidate for that type of shot. This is also one of those shots that offered a composition very easily. I took a test photo and then tried a new technique Athena Carey had told me about at the workshop. She sets her base exposure and then auto-brackets the scene prior to any ND filters at +1 and -1 ev. It's a super simple way to establish if the scene lends itself to being slightly over or under exposed instead of just automatically falling right on the meter.
Once I had my base exposure and composition, the ND filters went on and I did the math for the long exposure. It ended up being 1 Minute and 15 seconds at F11 and ISO 100. And, I used a Nikon 16-35m F4 at 16mm to lengthen the pier and really give presence to the sky!
If you would like to purchase a print of The Pier at Sandy Point, please click here.