I had been looking forward to this weekend for some time. A chance to go sailing on a friend’s yacht (29 feet long) for a day on Georgian Bay. As the day approached, it became evident that it would be one beautifully sunny day.

I had also been thinking about what to bring. As a photographer, that means camera gear, not suncream or clothing. I knew we would be confined to narrow spaces and unlikely to leave the boat for the day (beyond diving off the back into warm, refreshing water).

Oh, and there is the whole thing about mixing water with camera gear, even if it is freshwater. I can imagine waking up in a cold sweat from a nightmare where I watch my lens roll over the side with an final splash. Besides, this was meant to be a relaxing time among friends, so I wanted to be able to capture the experience without annoying everyone.

I took a small camera bag with my 24-120mm f4 and put the 10-24mm on my 300S and left it at that. I thought that the ultra-wide angle might give me some interesting shots in the tight spaces so long as I tried to keep people away from the edges (distortion with people is not quite as nice as with inanimate objects – and they complain less). Also, I thought that once I had taken a number of shots with the 10-24mm, I could limit switching lenses to this one time.

We set sail around 11:30am with a brilliant sun and all the contrasty light that it brings (no HDR on a bouncy boat). The wind was still at first and we thought for a while that we would have to use the engine for the entire trip but just after lunch the wind picked up and eventually allowed us to sail close to our maximum speed.

Despite being attracted to large bodies of water, I have generally experienced them from land. I took a sailing course about 25 years ago, went deep sea fishing off the coast of Florida (got very ill), have been on a couple of ferries and a three day cruise), but never experienced sailing like this. I can’t remember having more fun helping out, being in the sun with the wind in my face and being able to take photographs.

There were a lot of other boats out that day of all types and sizes. We were tacking back and forth the mirror opposite of another vessel about the same size as ours and at least once we passed quite close to each other as the photo above shows. With the bright sun, I was able to use a high shutter speed and get great depth of field even though I had a narrower dynamic range than I would have liked. I took a lot of people shots in the shade of the sail, which helped.

On the return trip we had the wind right at our back. We were at our fastest speed but because we were pacing the wind and the waves, it felt like we were moving quite slow. The sun was getting low and creating those “sparkles” on the water so lovely to look at but difficult to photograph. I’m looking forward to another opportunity.


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