Last year, a client of mine who is a terrific interior designer (Katja Rimmi Interiors) wanted some “calm” and “soothing” ocean or beach images to decorate a home on the coast that she was remodeling. I haven’t focused (ugh, bad pun I know) much on the coast so I didn’t have anything apropos but took it up as theme to explore. My approach has been to explore long exposures to get the water velvety soft in the image – my interpretation of calm and soothing I guess. This typically involves photographing in the pre-dawn hours or throwing neutral density filters (or a polarizer) on the lens in order to achieve the long exposures required for time averaging of the water movement. Three minutes or longer seems to be the sweet spot where the water really starts to smooth out.
A couple of weeks ago, I was in Newport beach with Diana and the boys for spring break and managed to steal away to the Newport Pier while they were recovering from a hard day at the pool and have another crack at “calm” and “soothing”. My initial intention was rather generic. I just wanted to capture a landscape view of the pier on nice leading line and have it bathed in “calm” water. Long story short, the images kinda sucked and were indeed pretty generic. Sometimes the image in my head never shows up in reality. However, while I was under the pier, which is kinda cool but kinda creepy at 5 am, I noticed the light from the boardwalk of the pier spilling over the side and illuminating this portion of the retaining wall. I thought the warm color from the sodium vapor lamp would make a nice contrast to the cool ocean at this hour. I reframed and fired away. The image here was my favorite from the bunch. The more I do these types of photos, the more I really like the cool pre-dwan light for its own quality regardless of the long exposures.