Boston's Fan Pier

Much like Yosemite's Tunnel View, or New York City's Brooklyn Bridge Park, Boston's Fan Pier is an iconic view. That means two things. First, certain images call out immediately. This means that there will be a lot of similar images from a lot of photographers, which leads to number two: you have to work extra hard to make images stand out.

Ten years ago I made my first visit to Fan Pier and photographed the city skyline. In my inexperience then, I photographed the primary subject, the skyline. It was a warm September evening, and watching the sun dip behind the city was calming. I listened to the waters of Boston Harbor lapping at the pier, the traffic on the water as it came and went, and Bostonians walking along the pier as they headed to destinations unknown that evening.

Monday night was similar, but instead of late summer, it was late winter. The temperature was brisk, but not bitterly cold. The sky, like that September night, was crystal clear.  This time, instead of going right for the skyline shot, I took some time explore as I waited for the sun to set. I walked past the Barking Crab into Fort Point Channel, down to the Tea Party Museum. It's amazing to see the older historic building on the channel set against the ultra modern glass buildings of the financial district. I knew I wanted to get the skyline at twilight, so I made my way back to the pier to get my spot and frame up my shot. I like to be ready before the light changes, so I can start taking images as soon as it does.

As I headed back down Fort Point Channel, I went under Seaport Blvd where the Boston Rowing Center is located. There were a few boats tied up to the docks, and while before I felt the scene was fairly bland, the light had changed, and I was now drawn to the rowboats bathed in the golden late afternoon sunlight. I quickly put a zoom lens on my camera and went about capturing a few different compositions before the light changed and the docks were in shadow again. The image above was my favorite from the several I took of the rowing center. I loved the warm tones of the wood on the dock and on the rowboat, the reflections of the hull of the boat, and the splash of blue that somehow appeared in the reflection.

Boston Twilight at Fan Pier

Finally, I made my way back to the view of the skyline. The sun was just behind the buildings, but I knew my shot would come later, as the city lights came up and the twilight sky turned a deep indigo. The challenge here was passing pedestrians. I had several test shots ruined by people walking in my wide shot of the skyline. I decided to use a long exposure of two minutes. Using a long exposure like that means unless someone stops and stands in the same place for a considerable amount of time, they won't register in the shot. Essentially, I made any walkers disappear!

I love the way the city looks at twilight. The lights glowing, but the sky a deep blue, instead of the black of night. The warm glow of the lights against the blue sky is just such a pleasing visual. As I said, My shots in Boston ten years ago were a bit of a beginning. It was at that time that I became far more serious about my landscape and cityscape photography and made it more of a priority. I didn't know it then, but my passion for capturing scenes like this started there, and has only grown since then.