Hidden below a locally-beloved seaside restaurant, this pier juts out over 700 feet into the Gulf of Mexico, from a white flour sand beach our area is typically known for. It looks a little out of place, usually loaded with tourists and locals alike, and featuring a small bait shop where you can pick up the type of “Venice Beach” t-shirts that are considered to be a dead giveaway of a tourist or snowbird, in addition to live shrimp and hot, fresh coffee.
The structure was built in 1966, and subsequently destroyed by a storm in 1984. After being rebuilt with some very unique wood from South America, it was torn down in 2004 to make way for a new pier built with a wood composite, meant to endure all but the most intense hurricanes.
But walking below, away from the hustle and bustle going on above, the natural placement and symbiance become clearer. An hour from sunset, the wind whipped almost violently between the huge posts supporting the wooden walkway, making it impossible to hold a conversation or keep a baseball cap on, worn forwards or backwards, I found.
A couple of other photographers had made it there before us, and already had a couple of cameras on tripods leaning against the posts. They had set up shop directly under the pier, in the exact area I had planning on, shooting the structure and the water underneath as the tide lapped at the pillars. I stood back and let them get all of the shots they needed; when they took a break and stepped to the side, I asked to shoot a couple of quick frames, and let them know I was there to shoot a long exposure after sunset, and wouldn’t be in their way long.
The beach emptied very quickly within 15 minutes of sunset, and we had the spot under the pier to ourselves, save for a couple of teenagers stopping to take selfies on the shore.
I setup my tripod as low as possible and started shooting as soon as the sun dipped below the horizon, and was rewarded with some very dynamic shots that captured the chaotic movement of the ocean below. This was a situation where I knew I wouldn’t have a great variety of images, but would take home at least one perfect keeper of the angle I was concentrating on….and I did.
I plan to go back and shoot the pier again, and perhaps stay later to incorporate more drama into the long exposures. Any excuse to feel Florida sand between your toes is a good one.