The Old Pier

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

To continue with my theme of using blur and movement rather than freezing the action in order to give an alternative view of Dorset, we are today paying a visit to the remains of a very old pier in Swanage, a lovely town on the Dorset Coast Path.

The Old Pier, Swanage

The Old Pier, Swanage

This is the original Swanage Pier that was opened in 1861 in order to serve the quarrying industry. Stone would be brought to Swanage from the coastal quarries and a pier was needed in order to offload this stone from the ships. Originally a tramway ran along this pier so that trucks could be used to transport the stone inland – the rails are still in place along the sea front paths. With the coming of a passenger steam service to Poole and Bournemouth, a second pier was needed and this was built in the late 19th century.

Due to a combination of the new pier and a declining stone industry, the old pier fell into disrepair, so much so that all you see today are the wooden piles that remain jutting out of the water. What was once a busy and active pier, has become nothing more than a resting place for gulls…….oh, and a huge magnet for photographers 🙂 !

This is a place that has been photographed countless times, and more often than not, the technique used is to set the camera with a very long exposure, in this case, 90 seconds. This has the effect of totally blurring the water in order to create this seemingly perfectly flat sea that looks almost as if it has iced over. It also has the effect of blurring the clouds. This technique therefore simplifies the scene, highlighting the only solid parts, the pier and the headland beyond.

This is a technique that can in my view be over used, and at one time it seemed that every picture involving the sea was a long exposure, such was its popularity amongst photographers. So much so that I was once contacted by a magazine editor who was looking for a picture of a particular bay, and when I asked him what he wanted, he said, ‘Anything that is not a long exposure’! You see, if you are not careful, even trying something different can quickly become very same-ish!

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

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