While visiting San Diego during my California Missions road trip, I planned a photo shoot at Scripps Pier. This experience would test my patience like no other photo shoot.
Since this was a scene I definitely wanted to capture, I arrived on site about 2 hours before sunset. I wanted to ensure that I could set my camera up in a certain position (dead center to the pier for perfect symmetry) before other photographers secured that relatively small area on the beach. My first challenge was parking. After driving around for 15 minutes, I finally found street parking a few blocks from the pier.
I arrived on site about 90 minutes before sunset. To my surprise, there was already a small crowd of photographers set up right where I planned to be! About 12 photographers with tripods were clustered in a very small space. After I explained that I drove to San Diego from Chicago and had just one night to capture this picture, one of the photographers was kind enough to allow me to set up right next to him--so that the tripod legs were practically intertwined with my camera positioned approximately a foot above his.
Now that my camera was positioned where I wanted it, it was just a matter of waiting for about an hour for the light to develop. Just as the light was beginning to improve, a photographer stepped in front of all of us to hold a photo shoot with a family! Fortunately, our small crowd of photographers protested loudly--so she blocked the view for only 10 minutes or so. After that, it was just a matter of waiting for other people to stop walking through the frame.
Since I was shooting very long exposures, I wasn't overly concerned with people walking through the frame--as long as they kept moving. The exposure was so long that they wouldn't make an impression on the sensor, unless they stood still for too long. And, they usually stood still for too long.
While shooting a three minute exposure, a curious man stopped in front of us (about 2 minutes into my exposure). The crowd of photographers packed in so tightly attracted his attention. So, he started shooting pictures of us with his phone--and with a flash. Having him shooting flash pictures right into my lens from four feet away ruined any chance I had of capturing the scene in the optimal light.
By now, the clouds were covering up the sunset! Most of the photographers in the group were disappointed with the lack of a sunset and ended up not taking any pictures at all. Since I was only going to be at Scripps Pier that one time, I kept shooting. I figured that I would create a black & white photograph if necessary. But, my hope was to be able to coax some subtle colors from the scene during post processing. Here's the final image: