Photographing On the Water

Clouds gathering, Madisonville Canal, Lake Pontchartrain, 2012. (Copyright 2012 / Andrew Boyd)

Clouds gathering, Madisonville Canal, Lake Pontchartrain, 2012. (Copyright 2012 / Andrew Boyd)

On my list of  “Photographic New Year’s Resolutions” that dates back to 2009 has been to get my old aluminum flat boat up and running. A fishing boat that originally belonged to my father-in-law, the boat has worked, and not worked, over the years. After a number of fits and starts, I’ve finally (I think) solved all of the nagging little problems that have stopped me. My motivation: an ideal shooting platform.

What’s a shooting platform? Anything you’re standing or sitting upon when you shoot a photograph. One of the very best shooting platforms, for any photography under a couple of thousand feet, is a helicopter. Take the door off, make sure your seatbelt is securely fastened, and you have the absolute best way to shoot lots of aerial stuff.

When you live in south Louisiana and your primary landscape subject matter is in and around the water, a boat is the perfect shooting platform. For a lot of my work, this has been an overdue development that has me truly excited.

I’ve been on two ‘shake down’ cruises so far, seeing what works and what still needs work. I’m using an old Gott ice chest as a ‘dry box’ for my camera equipment and that seems to work fine. (I have it shock-corded to the bottom of the boat.) I still need to invest in a push pole but have a paddle and very nice donated trolling motor (thanks to a colleague who had an extra one). These things, and my 18hp Nissan outboard, turn my old boat into a fabulous new photographic tool.

I’m researching the northern shoreline of Lake Pontchartrain on Google Earth, planning my next few trips.

Root mass, overblown tree. Madisonville Canal, 2012. (Copyright 2012 / Andrew Boyd)

Root mass, overblown tree. Madisonville Canal, 2012. (Copyright 2012 / Andrew Boyd)

So why is this such an exciting development?

One of the fundamental facts of photography concerns vantage point: the position you’re in when you press the shutter determines a big, big piece of the result you will obtain. Now with the boat, I get a chance at an unlimited number of new vantage points to shoot from. This is probably the thing I’m most excited about.

I have two early examples included with this post. Both are images that could not have been shot from land. So right away, I see a new world opening up.

Isn’t this what’s at the heart of our love and passion for photography? Exploring new vistas, working in a new area or in a new way, learning new skills and applications that we can bring to bear upon our work and art.

So in the weeks and months ahead, I plan to spend a good bit of my shooting time out on my new platform.

Bon voyage!

Hi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Or subscribe to our Facebook page or our Twitter feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog

Posted in: Landscape

About the Author:

Photographer, videographer and photo editor. Host and creator of The Discerning Photographer web site. Currently a Canon shooter.

6 Comments on "Photographing On the Water"

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  1. Patrick Corrigan says:

    You just gave me a couple of good ideas for platforms. I work with parrots and I was just thinking about how I could attach a web camera and get some aerial photos or with a model helicopter. I am sure that has been done.
    I have recently bought Photoshop CS5 extended. That is the absolutely most daunting program I have encountered. I have been playing around with it a month now. What did you personally do to learn it?

    I don’t have a website yet. That is one thing I am researching about how to get.

  2. Photoshop can be very distracting with all of the bells and whistles. Start by thinking hard about what you actually are trying to do with your images. Usually, the place to start is with a basic toning workflow that you’ll follow for virtually all of your work. Here’s a link to a post that addresses this subject here on the site:
    Under the software tab, there’s a subindex for Photoshop that will pull up all of the Photoshop articles I’ve written.
    Get your basic workflow designed and then the rest will come when you find you have a reason to learn it.
    Good luck!

  3. Enivea says:

    I love the different perspectives, and look forward to seeing more of your shots from the boat! Thanks for prompting me to devise another vantage point.

  4. Miranda says:

    There’s a particular sense of accomplishment when we get closer and discover better perspective/s than the previous. It’s like looking at different faces of one truth.

  5. Thanks, Miranda, you’re right. My new ‘platform’ offers an incredible new number of perspectives…lots to look forward to exploring.

  6. Thanks Enivea! I’m truly excited, planning upcoming photo trips right now…

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