How I shot it – North Berwick Pier

Recently, I took a trip out to East Lothian for a day of photography. The day didn’t start out great, I headed to St Abbs in the borders where it was dull and raining. The weather soon perked up though and I had a terrific day and shot some images I’m very pleased with!

One of those images proved to be very popular on my Social Media channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) so I decided to make the subject of my next “How I shot it” blog. That image is one that of a small concrete pier in North Berwick.

I’m delighted with this image for a few reasons. Firstly, I have been planning this image for a while, but the last few times I was out in East Lothian, the tide times weren’t right for getting this image at sunset! I love how the colours have come together for it and how well the motion of the water has been captured in the long exposure.

I used the following equipment to capture this shot:

Canon 5D MKIII, Canon 17-40mm, LEE 0.9 Hard Graduated Filter, LEE 0.9 ND Filter, a Manfrotto MT190XPRO3 Tripod and a Giottos 1300 Ballhead with an L-Bracket attached.

My settings were: f/11, ISO100, 1 Second and 21mm.

My aim when taking this shot was to capture the movement of the tide washing over the pier, but without stripping the water of its detail. I knew this would require a shutter speed of around 1 second, so I used a LEE Filters 0.9 ND Grad to limit the amount of light hitting the sensor and so increasing the shutter speed needed to properly expose the image. With it being taken during the sunset golden hour, there was a difference in the exposure needed for the pier and sea and that needed for the sky, to balance this I used a LEE Filter 0.9 Hard Grad. The image below shows where the Grad Filter sat.

In order to make sure the focus was set properly, I used the live view function and the depth of field preview button on my camera to set it manually. This was one of those shoots in photography that panned out beautifully, I think I took 50 or so shots of this pier from different angles and shutter speeds so that I could make the most of the conditions!

There were 2 main composition techniques which I used to make this image. The rule of thirds and a leading line. I utilised the rule of thirds as a means of dividing the image between the sea and the sky. The pier and the sea are of course the main elements in the image, so I composed the frame so that they took up 2/3 of the image and the sky only 1/3. You can see the division mapped out in the image below.

I made use of a leading line to draw the viewers (you) along the length of the pier looking towards Craigleith Island. Leading lines are a popular technique used in photography to create a sense of depth and draw the viewers eye towards something, piers are especially good for using this technique with as their shape and purpose lend themselves to it incredibly well.


I hope this has been of some interest to you!

Thanks for reading.

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