On The Water Part Two

My photographic inspiration is seeded with personal experiences, individual perspectives & a desire to share my visual thoughts. The lead shot of this post took patience & persistence. Tools I wish I had developed earlier in life. I hope you enjoy how my minds eye sees the world. If you want to see more sign-up to follow my blog.

My photographic inspiration is seeded with personal experiences, individual perspectives & a desire to share my visual thoughts. The lead shot of this post took patience & persistence. Tools I wish I had developed earlier in life. I hope you enjoy how my minds eye sees the world. If you want to see more sign-up to follow my blog.
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I begin many days with the sunrise, drinking coffee & watching this skier from about a mile away. Some mornings the early light is as perfect as the water is flat. I knew I wanted to capture an image like this. On a few occasions I kayaked into Bemus Bay w/camera but the skier didn’t appear. I gave up on the low level of a kayak & began stalking him with the powerboat. On the third morning on our boat “Erised” with the golden light of a new day I was rewarded. It’s been decades since I strapped on a slalom ski & I never was as good as this skier but I still feel the grace of carving the water when it is like a sheet of glass.

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If I had known before… On a pleasant motor cruise around SFO I was scanning the bay & saw this thoroughbred. Only after I got the image on my computer & zoomed in did I find out it was USA76, a challenger to the 2003 Americas Cup in New Zealand. The haze of the region may not be pristine for photography but the iconic Golden Gate Bridge is a nice background. Although this is an elegant mono hull I still am enthralled with 12-meter boats used in Americas Cup before 1992. Yes indeed I am old school & proud of it. USA76 is available for charter & my next trip to SFO will definitely include a ride on this beauty.

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The point of sail in relationship to the wind, the trim of the sails & the weight/position of the crew have a significant impact on the performance of the boat. With the boat heeled over, this crew on an E Scow from Chautauqua Lake Yacht Club is “hiking out” to move the center of gravity for maximum speed & getting a great ride. Getting into position to show relationship of crew, sail & the side rails of the boat was a challenge. On the water things change quickly. You need to be ready.

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Sailing is described as hours of pure pleasure interrupted by moments of sheer terror. I was early to Cambridge to meet my daughter & saw sailboats on the Charles River. With the setting sun lighting up Boston’s Capitol Dome in the background my thoughts were on a wide postcard type of image. I walked onto Harvard Bridge to get the best angle of boats & dome. Waiting for a cluster of foreground sails I spotted these 2 boats. I anticipated correctly their line of sail to the marker buoy. I won’t say who had the “right of way” but just before I snapped this photo both crews became aware of the other boat. The wide shot with the dome & sails was OK. On this short photo sojourn this moment I captured was my favorite. The class of boat is called a Tech Dinghie and was designed by a professor at MIT.

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More & more people are getting their butts on the water in Kayaks. Young-old, male-female, coordinated or not it’s an inexpensive way to get on the water. I have taught 6 year olds to paddle & the smiles on their faces are indeed priceless. In this shot I waited for the apposing angles of the paddles to balance the frame. I especially enjoy early mornings as the sun is low & the lake has mirror qualities. Simple serenity sometimes offers excellent opportunities.  If your going to even think about taking a camera on a kayak get a Dry Bag!!! If you want a source for kayaks around Chautauqua Lake see the folks at Evergreen Outfitters.  Nice people running a local business that does things right.

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The blades of these oars are part of an 8 man crew/rowing team from Chautauqua Lake Rowing Association. This CU of still blades resting on the water will soon explode into well-coordinated kinetic energy powering the boat thru the water. Although I was aware of this sport, crew was not inspiring. At my 1st Olympics in LA in 84 I was on the TV crew for rowing. WOW can world-class rowers make those fragile boats/shells fly at over 12 mph. An average shell weighs around 200 lbs & holds 8 crew. The coxswain guides & coordinates the power, rhythm & pace of the rowers. I believe it is the ultimate team sport. Rowers must be in perfect sync. I highly recommend a book about the 1936 Olympic Gold Medal team from the US called BOYS IN THE BOAT. It is much more than just a good sports story.

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In my teens I was a north of average water skier. Today, if I had 2 good knees, you can bet your bippy I would be on a wake-board. I paddled my kayak to a prime position in Bemus Bay for shooting stills of the Chippewa Lake Water Ski Show Team. Being in a kayak not only got me closer to the subjects but also gave me low perspective of action. Sometimes a little closer & a difference of a few degrees can make a dramatic difference. I routinely look for an angle that gives a slightly different dynamic to the image. The low angle put the wake boarder against the overcast sky. Also, he knew exactly where I was & timed his flip perfectly for my camera.

On the Water Part One

I’ve always been drawn to water & boats. My summers spent on the shores of Lake Chautauqua as a kid are the seed of this inspiration. I invite you will subscribe to my blog and discover other images and subjects that inspire me.

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In my eyes, the simple beauty of sailboats grasping the unseen power of the wind is an attention grabber. The curve of the sails & the synergy of the wind & water is the essence of serene grace. Although I’m not a competitive person, the photo by Eric Schweikardt at 1977 Americas Cup is an image I consider outstanding. It introduced me to “Captain Courageous” aka Ted Turner. A renegade with flaws that changed the TV landscape in a way few others have done. This pair of E Scows are part of the Chautauqua Lake Yacht Club. Watching these boats on opposite tacks my minds eye recalled that iconic shot from 77 & I knew I might have an opportunity to capture a similar image.   I call this a success.

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This is a digitized image of an old Kodachrome from the early 80’s. It was taken off of Key Biscayne. The trim of the sails on this sloop with the golden hour light of sunset makes this one of my all-time favorite sailboat images I have taken. The quality of my old Kodachrome slides was still outstanding. Unfortunately, the budget digitizer I used doesn’t represent the true quality of the original image

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A close-hauled tack is a great visualization of harnessing the power of the wind. The full sails with the boat pointed a few degrees off wind push the boat while the keel holds it tight. This was taken in the Virgin Islands on one of our 1st sailing vacations in the early 80’s. Even though this is another poor digitization, the subject overrides the quality. The islands are wonderful sailing grounds & the angle of the mountain with its shadows mirrors the angle of the mast making a great background.

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On a kayaking vacation to Belize we stayed a few nights on South Water Caye just inside the barrier reef. The juxtaposition of this old style canoe paddle by a young child with the modern catamaran in the background speaks to the diversity of styles of boats & their use. It also emphasizes that our oldest form of transportation/exploration still has value.

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Taking your camera on a boat requires extra precautions. The limited space when spending a week on a kayak in Belize amplified the challenge. Dry bags, clean towels at hand & plenty of optical wipes are a must. I’m glad I pay my insurance company to worry! The photo opps in the kayak going from island to island were limited. This is one of the few images I liked, a bird sanctuary we paused at on our paddle to South Water Caye.

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I was introduced to white water rafting in boy scouts. I’m thrilled my family shares my sense of adventure it offers. My daughter & I rode the Tara River that defines part of the boarder of Bosnia & Montenegro. Rafting on the cold blue/green waters thru the gorge, aka the Grand Canyon of Europe, was spectacular. Along the way there are many waterfall tributaries that contribute to the class III and IV rapids. If I were to do more rafting photography I would invest in a waterproof cover. On this trip, I just made good/safe choices when to pull my camera out of the dry bag. This particular day inspired me to invest in a wide-angle zoom.

 

More On the Water coming soon in Part Two

 

Full Fram Perfection

Perfection, I believe, is an impossible objective. However I think it is a worthy goal. When I hold a camera to my eye I can’t help but imagining capturing a full frame image that is perfect. No cropping, no post-production and no change in the light on the subject. That moment when all elements come together in a cohesive story worthy of 1,000 words. Compromise is a reality everybody striving for perfection must accept. However, subjective critique of your own work should not just look at the negative or how it could be better. You must examine all that you like about the shot and weigh that against the flaws.

All of the images in this post are untouched. They are what I consider to be my best attempts at “full frame” perfection…so far.

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Kayaking on Lake Skadar in Montenegro with my daughter was part of a grand trip. In my opinion I never truly visit a place unless you get on or in the water. During our exploring we sailed, swam & kayaked. Taking photos from a kayak presents numerous challenges & limited opportunities. I don’t need to see her face, nor do I wish the sky were a perfect blue. Her journey ahead has challenges she is more than prepared for.
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Sailing in Seattle on the 70 footer Obsession was nice enough but the twilight & the reflection were an added bonus. The cityscape of this port town is almost void of signage on the buildings. I’m glad urban ordinances prevent the owners/builders from turning this great view into another opportunity for marketing. Could it be better…yes. Mt Ranier is off to the right of frame but their was clutter from the shipyards that distracted so I cropped with the zoom to eliminate the distraction.
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Although this shot was almost deleted, something made me keep examining it. I was using my new long zoom, 100-400, for the first time & pushing my skills at full tight to try & get a tight shot of the athlete’s expression. (That was a humbling failure for the most part.) At first glance this is somewhat abstract. However, it shows aspects of the sport that clearly define what is happening. The blurred feet in the air pointing up & the strong hands holding the bent pole capture a moment unique to this sport. I will do a future post about pole-vaulting.
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I am a huge fan of Frank Lloyd Wright. Maybe not a great man but an architect that has inspired me since a field trip to Falling Water in Junior HS. We were traveling in Wisconsin in late May & I insisted on going to Taliesin which was the home of FLW & later a school for Architects. Although I was compelled by the structures, the tour & the history, I couldn’t help but also be inspired by the landscape & the farming. Somehow, the natural setting along with the man-made trellis, plowed field and orderly orchard gave me a different insight into FLW’s use of space & style of design. I can’t fully articulate what it is about his work I enjoy especially since I am not fond of hard horizontal & vertical lines associated with buildings. Taliesin West in AZ is on my bucket list for my next trip into the SW.
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I had to connect in VIE on a return trip from SJJ & (on purpose) had a 12 hour layover in Vienna. They have a quick/easy/cheap train from the airport & I hopped on to do a “down & dirty wander” around this historic center of European power. All to often I was distracted by barkers dressed in period-piece costume inviting me to concerts of Mozart, Strauss and Hayden. In my mind I kept saying…you’re here for your eyes not your ears. In one of the many parks I found this emotional statue with a wonderful floral background. The diversity of art in this city goes well beyond the music. I hope to someday go back & spend more time to enjoy the music & capture more of what Old Europe has to offer.IMG_9229 copy
Wandering thru a market in Zagreb was a wonderful opportunity for street photography. The colorful produce was a backdrop for the diversity of characters involved in the hustle of commerce. This solitary vendor appears to have sadness etched into his face but in his eyes I see a peaceful serenity. Knowing the quality of his product he has a subdued confidence a buyer will choose his apples. The cane on the edge of the frame is not to far from his folded callous hands. Although his rugged coat helps keep him warm he keeps his head uncovered defying the harshness of the world. When I first spotted him I was drawn to the character of his face and stoic expression. However, as I waited for the passing crowd to give me a window to snap a portrait, I realized the more complete story was wider and included his environment.

I found this video from PBS. It’s only 3:02 & a very choppy edit style, but I found it an interesting look at the perspective of a photographer with 6 decades of experience.