This past weekend I led a workshop on the southern New Jersey Shore based out of Cape May. We were chasing a few things including a dramatic sunrise at one of my favorite locations on the shore, the broken down fishing pier on 59th street in Ocean City, NJ. I have been trying to produce a dramatic image of this location for over two years now and every time I have visited in the past either the weather or the light did not cooperate. But on the last morning of the workshop I finally got what I have been waiting for and so did all of my clients as well! We left our base in Cape May at 4am and arrived on location with about 30 minutes to spare before first light. We lucked out and the dramatic clouds from the day before thunderstorms lingered over night.
I got low to the water with my wide angle lens picking up as much of a reflection as possible in the wet sand and small pools of water where the surf was breaking. The sky was much brighter than the beach, and in order to hold detail I used my Singh Ray 3 stop reverse grad ND for an exposure of 2 seconds at F14. This did a great job of perfectly balancing the light, but I felt I needed a longer exposure time to ghost out the water and record some movement in the sky creating a more surreal image. At 16mm using my Solid ND filter was not an option due to vignetting caused by the thick filter. I used a technique that I has worked for in the past by setting my Nikon to do a multiple exposure of 10 frames at the 2 second base exposure. Shooting each image, one after the other, recorded the water at different places for each frame as well as the clouds in essence giving me a 20 second exposure and the effect I was after.