Photo: Foggy Morning on the Puget Sound

During the last week of January 2014, a high pressure weather pattern was persistent over the Puget Sound region of Washington State, which during the Winter typically results in low laying fog during the morning hours. I knew that the foggy weather would allow for very clean, high contrast photos of the old dock pilings along the Ruston Way waterfront in Tacoma, Washington. So over a period of two days, I captured a series of photographs in which I selected ten of the images for a small photo project. My favorite image of the series, titled “Old Dock Pilings” features the old dock pilings from the old Dickman Mill site. The Dickman Mill was one of the last of the lumber mills on Tacoma’s “Old Town” waterfront to close down. All that remains of the mill today is some concrete ruins along the shoreline and the old dock pilings. The area now is part of a system of parks along the Puget Sound. For this photograph, I visualized a high contrast, black and white image of the dock pilings surrounded by very smooth, silky water with minimal background distractions. During clear weather, you can see the shoreline across Commencement Bay towards Browns Point from this location.


Using my Nikon D700, equipped with a Tokina ATX Pro 28-80mm 2.8 lens and a Tiffen linear polarizer, I obtained the desired exposure without blowing out the highlights. After composing the image and setting my focus, I stacked my B+W F-Pro 10-stop ND filter on top of the polarizing filter. Then, using the LongTime app on my iPhone, I calculated out the exposure for a 11 stop filter and set my shutter speed to Bulb mode. Switching to the PhotoBuddy app, I set the timer and captured an approximate 4-minute exposure. Camera Settings: ISO 200, 11, Shutter: 244 seconds, Focal length 50mm, Metering Mode: Spot, Exposure Mode: Manual Once back home, I transferred the raw files to my iMac and then imported them into Lightroom. In Lightroom, I made some basic adjustments to the exposure before exporting to Photoshop CC. Once the image was opened in Photoshop, I used a custom preset in Nik Silver Efex for the black and white conversion.

Similar capture and post-processing was used in the entire series of images, the only variance being the shutter speed. Because of the lighting conditions, I only had about a 20 minute window where I could shoot images in the 2-4 minute exposure range (otherwise it was a choice of 10-minute or greater exposures or exposures of 30-second or less). When shooting long exposure photographs of water, I prefer to be in that 2-4 minute exposure range to obtain my desired results.

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