USODA Optimist NW Championships at Cascade Locks, OR

posted Aug 3, 2013, 9:41 AM by Paul Nelson   [ updated Aug 3, 2013, 9:42 AM ]

Last weekend I photographed a bunch of young sailors in Optimist prams. The winds in the Gorge were hooting with gusts to 30 knots and these kids were just eating it up. I was impressed with their skills and Corinthian spirit. There were several sailing coaches from different area yacht clubs there as well and I'm sure that has a lot to do with how well these kids were doing.


MWW 2013 - Light and Focus

posted Feb 18, 2013, 10:04 AM by Paul Nelson

I had some good photos at MWW 2013. I tried to use light more this year but this area is still a challenge for me. Sails are bright and sailor's faces are often in the shade. I also had good success with moving the focus point around and Canon's active servo focusing. I've done this enough now that I don't have to think much about it. The result is sharper focus and the ability to use wide open lenses.

Thistle MWW - Ocean swells

posted Feb 2, 2012, 5:34 PM by Paul Nelson

Having fun learning how to take advantage of the ocean swells down here.

Walgreens photo prints

posted Nov 26, 2011, 10:22 AM by Paul Nelson

Walgreens had a 30% off web coupon for larger poster prints. I had several posters made from oilized photos. 
They came out great!

2012 Dinghy Sailing Calendar

posted Nov 26, 2011, 10:17 AM by Paul Nelson

2012 Thistle Calendar available

posted Nov 26, 2011, 10:16 AM by Paul Nelson   [ updated Nov 26, 2011, 10:16 AM ]

Backlight and spinnakers on the water

posted Jul 26, 2011, 8:31 AM by Paul Nelson   [ updated Jul 26, 2011, 8:38 AM ]

ISO 400, 200mm, f/4, 1/2000 sec

This weekend the sun and I were at odds. It seems that with some wind directions and sun angles, it's difficult to get the sailor's faces out of the shadows. It was a great weekend for backlit sails though.

Canon 300mm f/2.8 IS Mk I - Sailing photography

posted Jul 21, 2011, 7:28 PM by Paul Nelson   [ updated Jul 21, 2011, 7:45 PM ]

I rented a Canon 300mm f/2.8 IS Mk I lens this weekend for the Thistle Pacific Coast Championships in Eugene. It's a beast of a lens. There is no way I could lug this thing around all day on the water and hold it steady to shoot. It's only $50 for the weekend though and I'll see if I can get some good shots with it. The depth of field at f/2.8 will be very short but it focuses quickly and the IS seems to do the trick. I'll plan to shoot at 1/2000 sec or faster.

This lens is $5799 at Adorama. It's the Mk I version. This year the Mk II came out and it's a cool $7299. here in Portland rents them for $50 a day. They are closed on Saturday and Sunday so a Friday rental is good for the weekend and you can pick it up at 3pm on Thursday.

I've been shooting a little at home to get used to it. Here's a photo of some flowers from the backyard. The bokeh is pretty amazing. I may have to get the 70-200mm f/2.8 after all. With the 1.6 crop factor on my Canon 7D, this 300 lens acts like a 480mm. That's going to be a chore to hold still when shooting from a rocking boat. Check back later for results.

1/1600 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1250

Best lens for sailing photography - EF 70-200mm IS f/4

posted Jul 18, 2011, 10:43 PM by Paul Nelson   [ updated Jul 18, 2011, 11:31 PM ]

The more I use it, the happier I am. This is my second year with my Canon EF 70-200mm IS f/4 lens. Usually I would have shelled out the extra $$ and purchased the f/2.8 version of this lens but it was a cool $1000 more and all the reviews said that the f/4 version was just as sharp and much lighter. After a full day on the water and 1000-2000 images, lighter is better and I'm perfectly happy with the sharpness.

This site has a good discussion of the lens options for Canon DSLRs and yes, there is still part of me that wishes I had the f/2.8 version but then how would I ever save money for that 300mm f/2.8 IS lens I'm wanting? <grin>

When shooting with a polarizing filter out on the water, I find that at 1/2000 sec and an f/4 aperture, I'm only at 200 ISO. On my Canon 7D, that's a perfectly good ISO speed to produce low-noise images. If I had the f/2.8, I could crank up the shutter speed even more though and there lies my problem. In the back of my head I keep hearing a voice saying to me that I'd like the other lens better, even though it cost so much more.

ISO 200, 200mm, f/4.0 1/2000 sec (click for full-size image)

There have been discussions about the impact of image stabilization when shooting from a moving boat. All I can say is that YES, it does help but that you ALSO need to be using a fast shutter speed. I'm now starting with 1/2000 sec and going faster if I can. Try some sample shots and you'll see the difference right away. The ability to use faster shutter speeds might be offset by the narrow depth of field f/2.8 gives you. Getting your focus right in a crowded field of moving boats is a chore, even in Canon's servo mode.

I hope to rent the 300mm f/2.8 lens next weekend and we'll give that a try. It's only $50 a weekend so I'd have to use it for 100 weekends before the break even point for buying it. ;-)

1956 Century Resorter

posted Jul 12, 2011, 2:29 AM by Paul Nelson

Fuel filler cap for 1956 Century Resorter
I had a chance to photograph a restored Century runabout this weekend. It's a great looking boat and it was fun to be out on the water with it. My Tolman Skiff photoboat was just able to keep up with it at 37mph but I think after they have the twin carburetors dialed in, I'll be left behind.

See more photos...

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