PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: We spent three days driving north along the Jersey Shore from Wildwood to Asbury Park. It was an exploratory trip for me, to see what was worth coming back for and to explore ways to photograph it.
Boardwalks, taken as landscape, present unique problems and possibilities. How different they are from the docks and piers of rustic, Maine fishing villages! Fishing villages are usually set in coves or around good harbors; one may shoot from a dock toward boats and find landscape behind to fill in, or one may go to the end of a dock and shoot back toward land and the activity of the dock.
In contrast, here the leading line of a good boardwalk disappearing at the horizon is a useful recurring theme that can be varied again and again to good effect, but in doing so, one turns away from the ocean view and from the signs and stalls that line the boardwalk. Often they are the most interesting features, the things I went south to photograph.
Striving to include seaside and land-side, produces images that tend toward awkwardly long panoramas, and neither oceanside features nor boardwalk shops are shown to their best; few features along a boardwalk are meant to be viewed from the side. Here, the blackened, metal structures of vanished signs and the row of street lights solve the problem.
In other shots, to gain height in the panorama I found myself moving in close to foreground features on one side or the other, and then looking for activity to fill the triangle of sky on the opposite corner. All parts of a good composition must actively engage the eye.
Too many of my compositions could be improved by crops, but only at a steep loss in resolution. Reflecting on this I am resolved next time to make more use of a tripod-mounted telephoto lens to reach down the boardwalk and compress the receding scape - a plan for the next trip.