Piers and jetties are popular landscape photography subjects – the jaded amongst us may say they are clichéd.
They are popular for some good reasons. They are, of course, at the water’s edge, and we like coastal and lakeshore scenes, don’t we? They are usually made of wood, a pleasing, natural material that waves and weather render characterful. They suggest travel or escape or serenity – even if the latter is more or less affected by
over use of Big Stopper-type neutral density filters. And they are compositionally useful because they imply depth in a two-dimensional medium.
A few minutes of Googling will reveal, if you didn’t already know it, that the jetty pictured alongside this paragraph is the most landscape photographer-popular jetty on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. If you haven’t done so already, you can find and photograph it on Shelley Beach.
I haven’t conducted a scientific survey, so the following assertion is somewhere between idle speculation and
educated guesswork: This jetty – That Jetty – is more popular than its peers (!), including the three or four other jetties adorning the same strip of sand. It’s a big photographic hit because of the shed-out-of-water buildings optimistically perched on flimsy-looking woodwork. That, and the rakish angle of the landward end of the structure … you get the picture: it’s a dock in demand; a primus inter pares, a near peerless pier!
Where am I going with this? Well, because I lead landscape photography workshops, there’s a reasonable expectation that I’ll take my guests to photograph the “iconic” images in any particular area. Princes Pier (another pier!) and Brighton Beach huts in Melbourne, for example; or London Bridge on the Great Ocean Road, and so on.
While I was researching Mornington Peninsula landscape photography locations – because, if you haven’t spotted it, I am relatively new to Australia – Google showed me lots of photographs of That Jetty on Shelley Beach and, in spite of my self-image, I had recently become self-conscious about not having a photograph of it in my Mornington Peninsula gallery. So, after a morning of personal photography
invested squandered photographing obscure bits of rock on the more bracing Tasman Sea side of the Peninsula, I gave in and set off to “bag” my very own That Jetty shot.
Arriving on the genteel-looking Shelley Beach, I “discovered” That Jetty’s more sophisticated neighbour: the truly classy piece of beach furniture pictured at the top of this post.
The afternoon sun was high in the sky and plenty of landscape photographers may have silently admonished me, or shot me one of those all-the-gear-but-no-idea looks while holding out for golden hour lighting. But, after noticing the interesting shape of not That Jetty, I saw what was becoming its echo. The parallel shadows were not pronounced, or even separated from the structure, but I could see they may become that way as the “harshly-lit” early afternoon turned into just as harshly-lit late afternoon. My theory: this would make for much more of an interesting, convention-challenging photograph than yet another “red sky at night, photographers delight” sunset-with-seaside-prop shot.
I think it worked out quite well and, perhaps because of That Jetty’s photographer pulling power, Google can’t find anything too similar for the location – yet …
But back to Operation Photograph That Jetty …
I walked the short distance along the beach to That Jetty and photographed it in the style of a lovely picture postcard – although the clouds and the water may be a bit too “landscape photographer” for that genre, and I didn’t fancy the “rule” of thirds at all.
I left the scene before sunset so I could be home in time for my daughter’s bed time story and our night-night hugs.