Boating Photography

Boats on Cedar Island

While boating, you will often see a scene that you would love to capture. Children swimming, waterside scenery, beaches, boats, sunsets. Having a camera ready will allow you capture some memorable images for your personal Web page!


Professional photographers use complex cameras that allows you to change lens and use many automatic features, but this is not necessary to take good photographs. You can take excellent photos with a small camera that has a good-quality zoom lens. A camera can be kept in a water-proof bag, but a water-proof camera solves a lot of problems when boating. Hanging the camera on a strap around your neck leaves your hands free, but look for a second elastic strap that goes around your back to save it from banging around.


You will need 12 MP (or more) resolution, a lens with 5X zoom (or more), and replacement battery or charger. If you like to take lots of photos or movies, buy a larger storage card. You should be able to set programs for "action" photos. Water and electronics don't mix so use a waterproof marine bag to transport the camera and a case to protect it. (More: Digital Cameras)


If you are taking pictures from the deck of a boat, the zoom feature has a hidden danger. As the lens zooms in to take a closer view, the motion of the boat is also magnified and you are more likely to get a blurred picture. A camera with 36x zoom will need image stabilization (anti-shake feature). To get the clearest picture possible, use "Action" or "Sports" mode or use high "shutter speeds" such as 1/250 second. Then set your body in a position that will minimize motion when the boat moves. A tripod isn't practical on a boat, but you can sometimes rest the camera on something for stability - even a coil of rope will do.


Professionals will want to control the shutter speed and aperture (together these control "exposure") rather than letting the camera do if for them. Sometimes using a slower shutter speed together with a "panning" of the camera to follow a moving object will result in a subject such as a waterskier)being in focus while the background is blurred. Smaller lens aperture (larger "f" numbers) will create a deeper field of "focus" so more of the scene will be in focus. Using a large aperture (small "f" number) will allow you to focus on a particular object while blurring the background. Read the manual for details about using the various features the camera offers for different subjects. Even inexpensive camera have features that allow you to take photos of sunsets or snowy landscapes with proper exposure.

Backlit scenes are another situation that call for expert exposure control - usually requiring at least "2 stops" more exposure. If you have an automatic camera, using a flash to create "fill" lighting can often create perfect exposure in this situation.

Remember, digital photos are free and memories are forever. Happy snapping!