A Leg to Stand On …

I was introduced to the Venice Pier in March, 2011 by our friends Fred and Grace Whitehouse, by way of a great meal at Sharkey’s.  Fred thought I would be interested in the pier photographically, so the next morning we were back at the pier well before dawn so I could take some pictures.

The undersides of piers have always been appealing to photographers for obvious reasons, and the Venice Pier did not disappoint, especially as we also had a setting moon to include in the scene. This is one of the shots I made during the blue hour, as the sky began to brighten just a bit before sunrise and the moon was still prominent above the horizon.   My initial, unedited image appears on the right; I used a 10-24mm wide angle lens on my Nikon D300s.  In terms of composition, I wanted to create something of a spatial warp, using the tunnel effect of the underside of the pier to provide some apparent depth (like a time-tunnel) against the visual flatness of the water and the sky, I wanted to include the moon, and I wanted an extensive area of “negative space” on the left to offset the weight of the pier on the right. Once I put the image on the screen in post-processing though, I was not so sure that I had accomplished what I set out to do.  Since then I have revisited this image many times to see if I can get it to work.  I am now at version 5, and I think I have something to show.

One of the decisions about this image I have made over this time is to crop it into a square; one reason being that I often see the world in this format (I’ve always wanted a Hasselblad, but could never afford one).  The other reason is that I have been developing a series of images from this pier and other beach scenes that I want to present as a cohesive collection in a square format, and I wanted this image to fit into the series. In making this format change, I still needed to find an appropriate balance between the negative space and the pier, giving me two interlinked problems to resolve: First, I needed to remove the blank sky area on the upper right side of the image, as well as the unresolved structural element framing it, because they led the eye out of the picture.  I also needed to maintain a “footing” for the prominent piling in the center and not have it just disappear from view, meaning that the foot of the piling had to be evident on the bottom – a leg to stand on, in other words. The combination of the shaping of the moving water around the piling, and the left side of the footing at the base of the image provide the necessary foundation and give balance to the overall image.

As it appears above, I think I have hit pretty close to the right balance for this image. I have printed it at 11.18″x11.18″ on Epson’s Hot Press Bright fine art mat paper, matted it and placed it in a simple 20″x20″ black frame. I am very pleased with the results and will be hanging this image in Gallery 902 at the Workhouse Arts Center for our September show.

Thanks for stopping by.