Inspired by Unseen Forces

Sailboats photographs represent forces, which cannot be seen. Wind, physics & the power of the water are all part the story.

Sailboat photographs represent forces, which cannot be seen. Wind, physics & the power of the water are all part the story.

01Even when this beautiful mono-hull is tethered to a buoy I see a balance with nature. The sloping bow & stern exhibit grace. Her wooden mast, deck and trim speak to the character of her design. Dragonfly, which is moored at Chautauqua Institution, is the most elegant sailboat on the lake. Motivated by patience someday I will get pictures when she is under sail.

02The sailboat in this image is only about 1% of the photograph yet dominates the story. My elevated position eliminates the horizon line going thru the boat or the sails. Having recently sailed on that class of boat I recognize the forward mast with the bowsprit as a “Friendship Schooner” As it sails thru a field of lobster traps, it is helpful to know the design of the boat was as a ‘working lobster boat”. It is wide for stability & the mast position allows for more workspace on deck. Acadia National Park

02aAlthough outriggers & catamaran designs go back over 500 years, when the Hobie Cat was introduced in the early 60’s it dramatically created opportunities for more recreational sailors. The design allows for less weight & more speed. The colorful sails give it an eye-catching personality. The diversity of sailboat designs & rigging is a testimony to the understanding of nautical engineers who built them for a specific use. Chautauqua Lake

03Since most of my sailboat photos are from water level, multiple horizontal lines from water to land & land to sky bother me. Here, the line of the hillside meeting the water isn’t objectionable because the land then fills the frame with a contrasting background to the sails. This line also provides a point of reference to the power of the wind pushing the boat onto its starboard side. Also, the cut in the steep hillside parallels the mast. This is a poor transfer of a Kodachrome slide from the early 80’s. The image quality is poor but it is one of my favorites. Somewhere in the Virgin Islands

altIn this capture, there are 3 horizon lines interfering with the boat. The bridge, the land & the water. However, the peninsula of land disappears behind the support structure opening the left edge of the frame to the Pacific. Also, the geometric forms of the suspension cables somewhat clone the cut of the sails. The boat, which really caught my eye from about 2 miles away, is a former Americas Cup competitor USA 76. Now that I know she is there my next trip to SFO will include a day sail from Pier 39

05When I saw this boat sailing away from me headed toward Long Point in deep water, I knew the captain would be doing a tack close to shore that would bring her straight to me. Subject & location knowledge is helpful. I was patient & got another chance for a pleasing background. One interesting virtue of sailboat photography is that you can find opportunities around all 360 degrees of the subject. Chautauqua Lake.

06People always provide interesting layers. However, shots of the crew on sailboats eliminates the entire form of the sails. Here, just the corner clew of the sail gives a hint of that form & the energy. Enhancing that feeling of force is the heeling position of the boat & the crew hiked out over the side to add stability. Shooting towards the stern you see the name of the boat & the class. I’ve learned to live with the horizon lines instead of considering a drone camera. CLYC Chautauqua Lake

07 copyShooting towards the bow I now get faces of the crew practicing race tactics. I love how she has the main sheet in one hand & the other is extended. It reminds me of the position of a bull rider. The background is petty good & there is enough of the jib & main sails to represent the wind. ISO 2000 278mm 1/1250 & f16. More important than the tech-info is the person driving the boat I am in. Here Lori got me right where I need to be. Community Sailing Foundation Lakewood NY

07aThe story of this image resonates with people who sail. The wooden block & boom speak to the character of the craft. The cut of the sail with the clouds in the background whisper of the sounds of the wind pushing your boat thru the water. The contrasting angle of the lines to the boom gives hint to the physics of navigating the boat. Lake Champlain.

07bMy enthusiasm for sailing overrides my enjoyment of taking pictures of sailboats. By no means am I an expert in either. However, given the choice, I’d much rather have my hands on the wheel of a sailboat, not the camera.  Dreams do come true. I plan on adding to my portfolio of sailing in the near future. Sydney Australia.

What I did This Summer

Summer 2017 had a variety of motivations where I explored new challenges & improved on some go-to subjects & techniques.

01

Do teachers still use this prompt for students to write about? Summer 2017 had a variety of motivations where I explored new challenges & improved on some go-to subjects & techniques. I took a Master Photography Class & spent a few days with the Chautauqua Ballet. The original shot of Sarah Lapointe was completely over exposed. However, I loved her candid form so I decided to try & salvage it via B&W. Previous attempts at creating a dynamic monochrome image were frustrating & I was unhappy with the results. Their was a high learning curve & numerous hours spent on this image but I’ve developed a better understanding of how to get to where I want in the realm of B&W.

02
One of my favorite subjects is our daughter because she does so many visually interesting things. Always challenging herself, she competed in a decathlon in Burlington VT.  I’ve become comfortable working with Photoshop & using it to alter the reality of the moment. I have come to concede that with the exception of photojournalism or documentary, PS is a tool that allows the image to be enhanced & improved. Prior to desaturation & blurring I considered the background distracting of the primary subject.

03
At the 2 day competition I was successful at being in positions to capturing solid images of all 10 events. I got some good shots of women pole-vaulting & was moving onto another event when I looked at the sky. As an exhibition jumper was attempting a new personal best I realized the clouds might provide an opportunity to capture an image similar to ones that inspired me back in 1971. He achieved a new personal best & I captured the image that was in my minds eye.

04
Since I believe you never have really visited a place unless you have been in or on the water, we went sailing on Lake Champlain. While it is impossible to show the grace & beauty of this 35 foot Friendship Sloop while on-board I did see this CU of the clew of the mainsail as the boom strained against the main-sheet & wooden block.

05
Back on the waters of Lake Chautauqua I captured the elegant contours of sailboats racing near Chautauqua Institute. Always looking to improve the image I would love to have been higher so as to eliminate the horizon line of the trees going thru the sails.

06
During my photography class the instructor, Marta Rial, in critiquing some of my images suggested I shoot a bit wider. Normally I would have zoomed in to include just the dog and the walker. But her advice proved to be valuable as the leading space of the woman gives weight to the small dog,

07
At an exhibit of birds of prey where hawks were tethered to posts I had the opportunity to get within a few feet of these beautiful birds. The advice of shooting wider was completely ignored. The details and the colors revealed in this CU make it one of my favorite images of a bird even though it is in captivity.

07a
I have a folder of images I have shot called “people taking pictures”. When I saw this person moving in to get a close shot of the owl I wondered if she had any idea she was well within striking range of the hawk behind her. I’m glad her dress didn’t have any patterns that resembled a mouse. Again, the wider shot showing the relativity of the hawk behind her gave a stronger story.

07b
My dominant motivation in taking a photograph is the subject. I realize that form, line, texture & color are also important elements of an image but I struggle to get inspiration from them. Here it was impossible to ignore the forms created by the lines of the shadows & the windows. I like the juxtaposition & the position of the graffiti infused with the hard lines of the structure.

07c
Flowers are subjects that provide opportunities to capture color & form. Usually I am less than satisfied with my attempts. But, I shot about 2 dozen images of Day Lilies after a morning rain & I found 1 shot I liked. I’m not sure if the accents of the raindrops were missing if I would like this as well.

07d
The staggered flower boxes on my shed/wood-shop are wonderful accents to see in person. A photo of them is less appealing. I’m not a fan of collage but I decided to give it a shot. I think the concept may work better if each image was in a separate frame & hung on a wall. Making the frame out of similar color wood as the shed would also be helpful. That might be a project for the wood-shop next season.

07d1
Having nothing connected to photography, I have been watching the Bemus Point Stow Ferry cross Chautauqua Lake my entire life. At the end of last summer I got my Joint Pilot & Engineers license, which allows me to pilot the Ferry. This summer I volunteered to be part of a tradition that has been going on since 1811. Life is good.