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How it was shot: Grand Haven Pier

Landscapes were and remain my first true love of photography. There are no words to describe the excitement and fulfillment I get from capturing a beautiful landscape. One summer night when I was visiting my mom, I decided to grab my gear and head for Grand Haven. As I was driving, I remember thinking that there no clouds in the sky and so the images were not going to turn out well, but for some reason I drove the 45 minutes to Grand Haven Pier anyway.

I was right, about the sunset images, there were boring - I deleted them all, and I have a problem deleting images! But luckily I decided to stick around for the blue hour...the Pier has lights that come on every night and I thought maybe a night image would be nice. To my delight the lights came on about 20-25 minutes after the sunset leaving me with a little time to capture the Pier and its lights during the blue hour.


It was taken at the Grand Haven Pier in Michigan.


In August during the blue hour (the hour after the sun has set).

Camera Settings:

Aperture: f/16

I like to shoot landscapes at F/22, but I stopped down for this shot in order to keep my ISO at 400.

Shutter Speed: 20 seconds

When shooting landscapes I always use a tripod! Using a long exposure time allowed me to use a small aperture to preserve as much detail as possible. It also helped hide people walking on the pier and make the water look milky. I probably should have gone to a 30 second exposure so that I could lower my ISO to 200 or 100. Regardless I am happy with how it turned out.

ISO: 400

I try to keep my ISO as low as possible to keep noise as low as possible, however, I feel Aperture and Shutter Speed are far more important so I increase my ISO as needed in order to be able to choose the Aperture and Shutter Speed I want. If this does not make sense to you, you really, really need to read Understanding Exposure.


For landscapes, I always have my camera set to Spot Metering and take two shot with different metering spots. For this shot my first metering spot was the sky directly above my head, and the second shot was the sky just above where the sun had set. Unfortunately, I was not organized enough to know later which image was which, so I can not say which method worked best for this image.

My equipment:

This photo was taken with my Canon T3i, which is discontinued and has been replaced by the Canon T5i - this is a wonderful camera for beginners.

I used my Canon kit lens - the 28-55mm! I love this image because it shows that you can get good images with a kit lens.

A tripod is a must for long exposures, in fact I use one for almost all landscapes due to the fact that I like to use a small aperture and 100 ISO, which means a longer shooting speed. A tripod reduces the chance of camera shake.

I often get asked if I used a star filer to make the lights appear the way they do, and I did not. The lights look like stars due to the small aperture.

I used a lens hood.


I did very little editing to this image. I only used Light Room. The slow exposure got rid of the people walking on the Pier but it left a few ghost, which I removed. It also left some light trails from boats in the channel that I removed. I brought down the highlights, brought up the shadows and added a bit of saturation and vibrance.

If you enjoyed this post follow me on Facebook, as I plan to post all of my "How it was Shot" series there.

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