Chesapeake Bay’s Concrete Ships (Virginia)

The featured photo is from the location I discovered last year during my driving trip along the eastern coast of the US when I drove from Canada all the way to Savannah, GA. The site is the Kiptopeke State Park which is located in the state of Virginia on Chesapeake Bay shore not far from Cape Charles.

The Kiptopeke is famous for its breakwater created out of nine concrete ships that were partially sunk to protect the ferry terminal. During the WWll because of a shortage of steel, many countries, including the USA built the ships out of concrete. After the war, plenty of ships were decommissioned, and in 1948 the concrete fleet was used to form the breakwater in Kiptopeke.

After the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was built, connecting Virginia and Maryland, the ferry was closed, but the sunk concrete ships stayed. Over the decades they became true artificial reefs and created a unique ecosystem by attracting nesting birds, fish, colonies of oysters, and sea plants.

Because of the ships, the Kiptopeke is known for its tranquil sandy beach shielded from the storms of Atlantic Ocean, and for an abundance of fish, making it a paradise for seawater fishing.

There are plenty of things to do around Cape Charles, but fishing and crabbing were the most exciting activities during my trip.

Chesapeake Bay’s Concrete Ships (Virginia) 1
USA. Virginia. Kiptopeke
Loc: 37.170592, -75.988436


The challenge here was to achieve the extended depth of field to have the rocks in the foreground and concrete ships in the background in focus. I stopped down the aperture to f/13 and made sure I set a single focus point to the middle of the rock formation in the foreground.

  • Camera: Sony s6000
  • Lens: Sony 16-70mm
  • Focal Length: 41mm
  • Shooting Mode: Aperture Priority (A)
  • ISO: 100
  • Aperture: F13
  • Shutter Speed: 1/3s
  • Tripod: Sirui T-025X travel tripod

Editing & Processing

It was a single RAW processing workflow. 

Lightroom (40%)

First, I used the Crop Overlay tool to make sure the horizon was straight and I also slightly cropped the image. I used the process I outlined in the article: How to Straighten a Photo in Lightroom.

I used the Spot Removal tool to remove the artifacts created by splashes of water on the front element of the lens.

Next, I used the Natural preset from my Landscape Preset Collection as the base for Lightroom Rapid Editing. Then I used TOOLKIT to boost the Contrast and the Clarity.

Photoshop (60%)

In Photoshop, I used the Clone Tool to change the position of the yacht on the horizon slightly. I moved it to the right to place it between two poles. It took me probably 15 minutes. 

Before & After Transformation

by Viktor Elizarov
I am a travel photographer and educator from Montreal, Canada, and a founder of PhotoTraces. I travel around the world and share my experiences here. Feel free to check my Travel Portfolio and download Free Lightroom Presets.

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