The SS Palo Alto
Posted 12/21/2012 Over the years I've enjoyed other photographers' long exposure shots of water, but have never really done that much of it myself. However, a couple of years ago, I bought a ND 3.0 filter that is so dark is allows me to shoot 30 second exposures in the middle of the day.

After some experimenting with it, I got a feel for the sort of shot I wanted to take, and I also realized that preferably, I wouldn't be using the filter when I did it as it has a red tint to it.

The sort of shot I wanted to take would have a pier in it (preferably wooden) and would have very "clean" water around that pier. By clean I mean nothing but water, no rocks, buoys, boats etc.

I couldn't find anywhere like that in Monterey, Fisherman's Wharf is way too busy with boats and the municipal wharf has buoys all around it.

I knew of the SS Palo Alto and had looked at it in the Google Earth app and realized it was a wooden pier with what looked like "clean" water around it.

I happened to be in that part of the world for other reasons on the day in question, so made sure I had the camera with me so that if timing was right, I'd be able to scope the place out just before the sun went down.

Luckily my timing was right and I made it on to the pier just before sunset. My original plan was to focus on the pier and more or less ignore the boat, but as the sun continued to go down and the sky's colors turned, the light hitting the boat got really nice, so then I started giving the boat and the pier equal billing.

To start with, I had my lens at maximum f-stop (to cut out as much light as possible) and as it got darker, was able to use longer and longer shutter speeds until I got up to 30 seconds - the speed I wanted to shoot at.

I kept moving along the beach for different angles and as it got darker still, started opening up my aperture to maintain the 30 second exposure.

There were three surfers, slightly spoiling my clean water, but their ghostly presence at 30 seconds blended nicely into the water and you can't see them in this particular frame, which was taken 28 minutes after the sun had set.

For the technically inclined:
ISO 100
30 secs
copyright 2001-2023 tim huntington, webnectar
all rights reserved