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Digital photography and boating would seem to be two very complementary activities. Having fun on the water in any type of watercraft provides many great photography opportunities; however, as Part 1 of this article clearly warned, water and camera equipment don’t mix. The first part of this PhotographyTalk.com article also provided some options to protect your camera, so you can enjoy photography and boating, simultaneously.
Additional Boating Photography Tips
There are a great variety of boating activities. White-water rafting and kayaking may be extreme water adventures, but they are filled with many exciting and dramatic picture-taking opportunities. You can expect your camera to be drenched in water just as you’ll be, and more than once, so a disposable, waterproof camera or an underwater housing are you’re only practical alternatives when you run the rapids.
At the other extreme is the use of a watery environment as a background for portrait photography. There are many romantic images that can be created with a couple and a canoe on a quiet lake or pond. You can also pose someone next to the mast of a sailboat or sitting on the sleek deck. Again, remember to fill your frame with your subject. Use fill-flash or a reflector to bounce light on the person’s face to eliminate the shadows, as he or she may be squinting in the bright sunlight.
A safety tip: Avoid standing in a small craft, such as a canoe, to shoot photos. If standing provides you with the best compositional angle, then spread your legs and bend your knees to create a stable base.
In most cases, your boating photos will require a fast shutter speed and an ISO setting of 400 or faster. Set the sports mode if your camera has it. It will automatically give you the faster shutter speed and compensating larger aperture you’ll need. For example, the technique for freezing action on the water is the same as on land. A sailboat cutting through the water, a water skier or jet ski, or a white-water raft hurtling past your static position on shore all require a fast shutter speed to stop their movement.
Another important tip is to give those speedy watercraft space in front of the direction they are moving. You must lead a fast object with your camera just as a skeet shooter would with a gun. The frame of your photo should capture the object slightly to the side of the frame it entered.
A tripod only has one advantage for boating photography and that’s if you are shooting an object or person also on the boat with you and your camera and tripod. As the boat moves or rocks, all of you move together. Of course, this doesn’t work if you are shooting a scene or object off the boat. In most cases, your body will steady your camera better than a tripod on a boat, especially if you can lean against the side of a cabin, mast or railing.
Boating photography doesn’t just have to be boats. Think in broader nautical terms. The parts of any boat, especially a classic sailboat of some size, are excellent subject matter. Docks and piers and the various elements of those environments where the land and water meet are rich with digital photography opportunities. Look for surfaces that are weather-bitten and water-soaked for interesting textures and patterns.