Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts, is a war memorial and maritime museum beautifully framed by the Braga Bridge and Fall River Heritage State Park. Recently, several photographer friends and I met up there for a sunset shoot. It didn’t take long for me to see that Battleship Cove was an incredible location for some dynamic photography.
Bracketing and HDR
Low light shooting presents some challenges when it comes to maintaining detail in your shots. That’s when bracketing comes in handy — and it’s exactly what I used for this shot. I’m a big believer in less is more. When bracketing and HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography are done to preserve detail, the result can be magical.
Braga Bridge Over Battleship Cove
In this shot, I bracketed three shots (+/- 1 stop) and merged them together in Photomatix. I then brought the tone mapped image into Photoshop for some minimal fine tuning. My overall goal was to preserve as much detail as possible in the textured areas. This meant the ship, bridge, boardwalk, railing, benches and grass. I knew the reflected lights and cloud pattern would naturally enhance the image.
Blue Hour Beauty
The blue hour of sunset and sunrise are my favorite times of day. When the position of the setting sun falls in line with your shooting perspective, it’s a gift. Such was the case on this day.
The blue hour before sunset
The U.S.S. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. destroyer proudly rests at Battleship Cove. Just as the setting sun was about to meet the horizon, the orange glow behind the ship’s guns provided the perfect accent. Normally a straight-on perpendicular shot is not my favorite perspective to shoot, as the image appears flat. In this case, however, the angle of the foreground elements gave the scene depth. The sprinkling of lights along the bridge, ship and shoreline helped to anchor the shot – no pun intended!
As evening descended upon us and spotlights pierced the darkness, isolated details became focal points. The U.S.S. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. took on a new attitude as blue sky turned to gray. My photographic eye was suddenly drawn to the ship’s illuminated equipment. Standing tall against the backdrop of a patterned sky and cloaked in shadows cast by the light, it now became the prime area of visual interest.
U.S.S. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. illuminated
Let me rewind for a second. I arrived at Battleship Cove well before sunset. This gave me time to scout the area and do some test shots for perspective. One of the shots I took featured the carousel pavilion — in addition to the Braga Bridge and U.S.S. Massachusetts battleship. It was a sweet setup that definitely caught my eye.
Battleship Cove Reflection
Even though the light was far from dramatic at this time of day, I chose to do another bracketed series of shots. The pavilion and U.S.S. Massachusetts were both losing detail from the shadow cast by the bridge, so I thought bracketing would help to bring some of the detail back.
Once again I merged the three shots together in Photomatix and did some minor tweaking in Photoshop. However, this time I also decided to take some creative license and have a little fun with a certain post-production filter — Flood by Flaming Pear. That’s what I used to create the rippled reflection in the water. The filter gives you a lot of latitude with which to play. I, however, chose to stay somewhat within the realm of reality.
That is until a non-photographer friend of mine said he would have “flipped the image” to mess with people’s minds.
Well, how could I resist? Sometimes you need to turn reality on its head. So, I did.
There you have it. One photographer’s look at Battleship Cove and the photographic diversity it has to offer. Definitely worth the trip.
~ Liz Mackney
Editor’s Pick Gallery
New England Photography Guild Gallery