I finally got around to taking some photographs of the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier yesterday. It’s been around for a couple of years and many other photographers have photographed it already and so I was feeling left out. As with all popular places where there are thousands of pictures taken there already and out there, my motto is much like the Rifleman’s Creed where I say “this is my photograph. There are many others like it, but this one is mine”. Just because there are 10’s of thousands of the same picture out there doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have your own version. No two pictures will ever be the same.
I knew I wanted to be there at either sunrise or sunset and actually thought about coming there at sunrise so that I could find parking, and more importantly that the sun would be behind the pier. That plan fell apart as I am old and waking up at 5 am on a Sunday was not in the cards for a photograph that would likely be a silhouette and the lights would be off. Maybe in the future. This was going to be a sunset shoot.
On this particular day and place, the sun was to set at 8:16PM. I took a couple of test shots and determined the sky was still too bright. In retrospect, the lighting was actually pretty perfect for a daytime shot of the pier and I should have taken more pictures from different angles, but again, I’m old. Maybe next time.
The next picture was after sunset at close to Civil Twilight. There is a lot I like about this picture. The sky is starting to get dark and has color and the lights from the pier are starting to show up. The shutter speed is 1/10th of a second so the motion in the ocean (sorry) is starting to show up but not so much to be the cliche silky water that nobody ever sees in real life. If I would have packed it up and went home at this point, I would be happy, but the Astronomical and Nautical Twilight is where the magic happens so I had to wait some more.
By now, the light was rapidly dropping. My shutter speed was down to .8 seconds which is about the perfect speed and would let me use f/5.6 and still be at ISO 100. With my 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, f/5.6 is very sharp and at its sweet spot.
Even 4 minutes later, the light had dropped so much that I was down to 2 seconds for exposure. Also happy with this picture, but it was obvious this day was over. Any later than this and the sky would have been pitch black and I’d have to use really slow shutter speeds only to blow out my highlights to get any sort of ambient light.