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Exposed - Isla Mujeres Mexico (Near Cancun) | by PatrickSmithPhotography
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Exposed - Isla Mujeres Mexico (Near Cancun)

The sun sets right at the end of an old pier. What luck!... or was it?


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Feb. 5, 2009: I just noticed that this picture was displayed in a Flickr blog about 100 million geotagged photos!




30-second exposure @F22

LEE soft ND grad 0.9 angled 9:30am-3:30pm

I used Lee 150x100mm soft ND grads with a Cokin z-pro holder.

Canon 5D

Canon 17-40L

ISO 50

RAW file processed with Capture One by Phase One

TIFF file processed with Photoshop


A few days before I made this image, I noticed how the sun would soon be moving over each day until it was setting right behind this old eroded pier as the summer solstice approached. So I knew to return to make a long exposure at sunset. It is good to arrive at a location with an open mind because you never know what to expect. I set aside my expectations and observe what elements attract the eye. In the RAW file, this image had an overwhelming amount of color, so I had to de-saturate the sky in order to get back the details, which had become lost in blobs of bright orange.


In October of 2005, Hurricane Wilma scored a direct hit on this island with category 5 winds gusting over 200 miles per hour. Many beaches were stripped of their sand, revealing old features not seen in many years, like this old pier on the north side of the island. I was told that before the hurricane, these pilings were under many feet of sand and that the beach used to extend well past the last post seen here.


On the first day of my trip, the sun had set to the left of end of the pier, but I knew that over the next few days, the sun would move a little to the right each day. (In landscape photography it pays to know how the natural world works, just as a bird photographer must know the habits of the birds to get the best shots.) On the last day of my trip, the sun set right at the end of the pier. I was ready and had an image in my head of what I hoped I could capture. Fortunately the sun dropped below the clouds at the last minute and became visible right as the sun set. I had taken photographs on the previous evenings just in case this evening turned out to be cloudy just to be on the safe side.


So, I was lucky to be on vacation during this time, but the rest was planning!



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Taken on June 7, 2006