Thursday, May 02, 2013

Top tips for sailing photography

So what did I take away from my day with Rick Tomlinson?

Firstly I still have a lot to learn!

But there were some top tips I'll remember for another time:

  • Set the camera to use a fixed, short shutter speed, something like 1/1000th second with ASA = 400 and let it worry about aperture and focus
  • At these speeds you can switch off anti-shake as it won't help
  • If you shorten further the exposure duration you'll up the f number and hence reduce the depth of field, if that's what you want
  • Use a zoom lens, something like 70 - 200 or 300
  • Take a tissue to wipe spray off the UV filter
  • Get as low as possible
  • Light is critical: we spent a long time looking for gaps in the clouds when the sun would lift the image
  • Try to avoid having the crew in shadows
  • It's generally more interesting near the marks where things are happening
  • At this close range you can focus on people, which creates story and hence interest
  • Fill the frame
  • It's a lot easier to take photos when you don't have to sail as well!
All these are tips rather than rules - if you know what you're doing you can find exceptions to all of them.

For example, one most extraordinary is the shot on his web site labelled "Westward Cup Cowes 2012". It's pin sharp and yet the waves are blurred, the result of a much longer exposure. Many, many trials were required to capture that image.

Oh and its better to have a colourful spinnaker and wet weather gear - all that grey gets very boring after a while.

I certainly would recommend anyone who is interested in sailing and photography to go on one of his courses. He is also a really nice chap and has an amazing track record.

I did feel that I'd be happy suggesting we'd forget the last race so I could buy him a drink and listen to some of his many yarns, but that seemed a bit nosy.

So I left with a copy of Shooting H20 which now sits proudly on my coffee table for all to admire.

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