Saturday afternoon was warm with a brilliant sunny sky and a perfect day to spend at the beach. I jumped on the N train and 90 minutes later, I was in good old Coney Island. The train pulled in a little after 4:00 pm and I hurried from the station to meet with my friend Sharron who was waiting for me by Luna Park. Our photography goal this day was long exposures using neutral density filters and sunset shots.
I haven’t been to Coney Island since it was ravaged by hurricane Sandy and was very happy to see the boardwalk packed with smiling people strolling along eating hot dogs and ice cream as if nothing had changed. I took a huge gulp of the salt air and my heart gave a little leap as I tripped up the entrance ramp to the boardwalk. I couldn’t wait to start taking photos and get sand in my sneakers. I looked toward the ocean and saw there were large plastic balloons in the shapes of dogs, whales, witches and snorkelers flying through the air, people sitting on blankets watching the waves rolling in, lovers walking hand in hand and everyone happy to be out sunning themselves in this precursor to the summer season. I quickly took a few images from the boardwalk and then having met Sharron walked into Luna Park. We were both drawn to the color and crazy riotous sounds of shrieking children and adults as they flew, zoomed, swirled, titled, dropped, swooped or splashed on the many amazing heart stopping rides that are the essence of all amusement parks.
After an hour of noise we wended our way through the crowds and strolled down to the quiet calm of the ocean’s edge to set up our tripods, screw on the neutral density filters and try to capture the soft, cotton, misty effect created by focusing on the moving water using a very long exposure. This was my first time working with ND filters and at first was a little frustrated trying to find the correct exposure and get the effect that I wanted. I will say that out of the twenty or so images I did take, only 5 I felt made the grade. I enjoyed the experience though and will continue to practice until I feel I’ve mastered this fine art type of photography.
As the day wore on the wind picked up and it grew chilly and I turned my camera towards the setting sun. During the day the sky was perfectly blue and clear with nary a cloud, so the fiery red beach sunset that I had imagined was just not going to happen that evening but undaunted, I captured black and orange silhouettes and eye-popping starbursts instead.