The graphic nature of silhouettes

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Brighton Pier: Canon 5D : 85mm : 30 sec : f22 : Cokin Nuances ND10 and ND 3 Grad filter

The arrival of Brighton’s new pier was a welcome relief to local business after the fire that devastated the original pier. However, rather than simply removing the old structure, someone had the idea of leaving the remains of the old pier in place as a monument to Brighton’s history. This decision proved a hit with photographers who constantly look to find ways of photographing the old pier as part of their photographic reportage of the Brighton coastline.

There are many ways to approach the photographing of the old pier. The approach taken in this shot was to utilise the late afternoon sun behind the pier to silhouette the structure, together with a black and white treatment in digital post-production to enhance the drama of the silhouette. The first challenge was working through how to enhance the reflections of the structure in the relatively calm sea on the day. This was achieved using a 30-second exposure with the help of a ND-10 neutral density filter. The second challenge was tonally balancing the bright sky within the darker sea to avoid areas of burn-out. This was achieved with the help of a ND-3 graduated neutral density filter.