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Yacht Photography

Updated on April 8, 2011

Sailing boats at sea form the most attractive of all marine pictures. These are subjects that can be found at every seaside resort, but the best opportunities occur where there are regular regattas. For the few shillings that it costs to hire a small motor launch, the photographer can make his own choice of groups or single boats, on a long tack with the lee-scuppers awash, or sailing before the wind with spinnakers hoisted and the crews taking it easy. But do not forget that powered vessels must, if necessary, give way to yachts.

Small boat sailing is a highly popular pastime and all around the coast weekly regattas are held by the various yacht clubs. It is not unusual to see starts of twenty-five to thirty ships on the Solent, the Clyde, and many seaside towns, so the photographer who wishes to specialize in this type of subject never need travel far to find his material.

If the photographer is working from a small boat, he will be unable to keep up with the race and should take up a permanent position either at the start or somewhere along the course where the yachts can be expected to sail fairly close.

A point somewhere on the course is generally to be preferred as small boats are apt to be regarded as a nuisance around the start.

Sunshine is essential in yachting pictures; without it, the sails instead of looking white and sparkling will look drab and dead. There is no particular angle from which yachts look best, but when a boat is lying well over it is better to be on the lee side so that the picture will show the deck and crew and not just the bottom of the hull.

So long as the photographer can get as close to the subject as he wishes, there is no point in using a long focus lens. A normal angle lens fairly close to the subject increases its size in proportion to the background whereas a long focus lens makes it look less imposing in proportion.

Shooting from a small boat is a knack that has to be learned. The photographer must stand with feet apart in line with the direction of the motion of the boat. He must keep his balance without supporting himself against a mast or the gunwale because that would increase the movement of the camera. And although the lens hood will keep a certain amount of spray off the lens, the camera should be held in the lee of the body except when shooting.

The best advice that can be given to anyone who contemplates taking photographs from a yacht during a race is- don't. At such times anyone but a working member of the crew is unwelcome, and in any case passengers have their work cut out in keeping out of the way.


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