Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for July, 2009

After a hearty breakfast at The Station House in Pt. Reyes Station, we headed to Abbott’s Lagoon for a hike. By the end of the day John had counted more than 40 species of birds – mostly unphotographable –  but here are a few images from the day.  My lens of the day — the Nikkor 70-300mm zoom — lightweight for hiking, but fast and sharp for birds.  Although it wasn’t the most productive of photographic days, I was rewarded with a few good opportunities.

Birdwatching at Abbott's Lagoon in July.

Birdwatching at Abbott's Lagoon in July.

A quail standing guard.

A quail standing guard.

Heerman's gulls on the beach.

Heerman's gulls on the beach.

The endangered snowy plover.

The endangered snowy plover.

Tule Elk.

Tule Elk.

A coyote by the roadside.

A coyote by the roadside.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

The 2009 Swan 42 U.S. National Championship, hosted by the New York Yacht Club,  came down to the wire on the fourth and final day of racing, with Andy Fisher’s Bandit, seemingly unstoppable,  in first place by eleven points (including four bullets).  But in the end, determination and consistency paid off as Phil & Wendy Lotz’s Arethusa sailed to victory – with no bullets, but the only boat with all single-digit finishes.   Photo galleries are on the Rockskipper Photography website.  Results are on the NYYC website.

The start of race 8 of the Swan 42 NAs
The start of race 8 of the Swan 42 NAs
Arethusa and Bandit on the first beat of the 8th race.

Arethusa and Bandit on the first beat of the 8th race.

Swan 42s approach the first windward mark.

Swan 42s approach the first windward mark.

Close racing for the Swan 42s.

Close racing for the Swan 42s.

Celeritas and Mustang hoist at the windward offset mark.

Celeritas and Mustang hoist at the windward offset mark.

Day 4- Arethusa at the windward mark.

Day 4- Arethusa at the windward mark.

I was fortunate to be following the race in the Lotz’s support boat, Alpheus.  But after eight windward/leeward races, with four legs each, the Swan 42s, with their predominantly white hulls and white sails all started to look alike.  Happily, on Saturday and Sunday the big boats of the Newport Bucket regatta (parade?) sailed by and through the fleet adding some much wished for color.

Hanuman sails past the Swan 42s

Hanuman sails past the Swan 42s

Wild Horses and the Swan 42s.

Wild Horses and the Swan 42s.

Read Full Post »

As a professional photographer I am constantly reminded of how digital photography has changed the business of photography. How many people don’t have a digital camera of some sort? Cell phones? With so many photographers out there, it’s not surprising that fewer and fewer people see the value in purchasing the work of professionals when they can take their own shots and exchange them for free with friends and family simply by attaching an image to an email or posting it to Facebook.

So here are a few pointers to assist in a more critical evaluation of sailing (and other) images:

Basic composition – Is the image balanced to your eye? Is the horizon straight?  This is one of the most common issues with on-the-water photography since the photographer is typically bouncing around when shooting.  What is the perspective of the photo – i.e. is it shot from in front of the boat, straight on from the side, or from astern? Which perspective appears more insteresting?  Hint: side-on shots tend to look flat, unless you’re going for a portrait of crew on the rail.  Also consider the foreground and background – do they convey a sense of action (such as waves in the foreground) and/or location (such as recognizable land features) without being distracting?

Exposure – Is the image over- or under-exposed?  White sails, blue sky, and dark water can present a challenge to a camera’s automatic exposure system.  Is the white of the sails blown out or the shadows so dark that you can’t see enough detail?  Experienced photographers will often use a combination of exposure compensation with carefully selected shutter speed, aperture and ISO settings to obtain the optimal exposure and depth of field.

LER_2612fuzzy_2

The upper image illustrates many issues - a crooked horizon, poor focus and exposure, and a distracting background.  The lower image is much better, and in fact was on the cover of a sailing magazine.

The upper image illustrates many issues - a crooked horizon, poor focus and exposure, and a distracting background. The lower image is much better, and in fact was on the cover of a sailing magazine.

Focus – Is the main subject of the image in focus or is there motion blur?  Is the point of focus on the bow of the boat or on the face of the person hiking on the rail?  Today’s digital cameras use sophisticated auto-focus systems, but can be challenged when presented with a moving platform and a moving subject.  Higher-end digital SLR cameras provide a photographer with the ability to place the point of focus where it will have the most impact rather than allowing the camera to determine the point of focus – frequently the closest object to the photographer, not the object of interest.

White balance / color correction – in simple terms, this is a measure of the fidelity of the colors in an image.  Shooting on-the-water presents a challenge for color correction since there is typically a strong blue tint on an image shot with auto white balance.   It can be difficult to assess this aspect of an image unless your computer display has been calibrated, but beware of images that have a strong overall blue tint or have been over-corrected yielding unrealistic colors.

An illustration of how cameras can skew the white balance of a marine scene, making it too blue.

An illustration of how cameras can skew the white balance of a marine scene, making it too blue.

The same image with appropriate color correction applied.

The same image with appropriate color correction applied.

Post-processing – Very few photos come out of a digital camera ready for publication on the web or in print.  Almost every image requires color correction and subtle adjustments to exposure and contrast.  Too much post-processing can make colors look fake and too little can leave image looking flat and fuzzy.

The professional photographer has spent many hours mastering these creative and technical issues.  They have also invested in professional level cameras, lenses and accessories that enable them to create high quality images. Still, there can be a large variability in the quality of images from different pros.  So with these criteria in mind, compare the work of various photographers and decide whose style you like best, and don’t hesitate to pay a fair price for their efforts.

For more sailing images please visit Rockskipper.com.

Read Full Post »

We’re just back from Block Island where BIRW 2009 featured rain, wind, fog, no wind, and a few fleeting hours of sunshine.   None-the-less I had a terrific week following the NYYC Swan 42 Arethusa and the Red Fleet on Phil and Wendy Lotz’s superb support boat, Alpheus.  The conditions for compelling photography were challenging — overcast and foggy days, and light air — but I’m still pleased with the results.  Photos are online at http://www.rockskipper.com – follow the sailing links.

Read Full Post »