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Thread: Photographing from a boat

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    Photographing from a boat

    I'm working on a book project, and the cover photo is proving elusive. Here's the closest thing I got. There's no way to back up farther; it's the edge of the East River. Pointing a 14mm lens in the air just makes things too cockamamy ... the emphasis is on the effect of the lens rather the buildings. No way to straighten digitally without losing important stuff.

    I may also try shooting from across the river (lens discussed in this thread). I've done a broader view from this perspective. Unfortunately it feels kind of flat and un-dynamic. I worry that a long lens picture from here will de-emphasize the interesting, three-dimentionality of the structure.

    So the next step is a boat. I can charter a pontoon boat that's in the business of taxiing photographers around the city's waterways. But I've never done this. Boats don't sit still and I want a sharp picture. Are there any great image-stabiized lenses in the 30-90mm range? I'll probably shoot on the wide side, under the assumption that I won't get the camera straight and will have to crop.

    Any other things to consider?

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    Senior Subscriber Member Steen's Avatar
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    Photographing from a boat


    How about renting a telescopic mast for photography like the ones sometimes used for real estate photography ?

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    Re: Photographing from a boat

    i shoot mavericks (big wave surf) from a boat or jet ski--lots of rock and roll. all you have to do is shoot at a high speed. if you are shooting day light, like the photos you posted, s/b no problem on the east river...maybe helicopter would be better view? just shoot at a high speed.

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    Re: Photographing from a boat

    The boat should be still enough as long as you are shooting in the daylight like your sample photo.

    Keep in mind engine vibrations and use a monopod, with the tip of the monopod on the top of your shoe, boot to damp any vibrations coming up from the boat.

    In regards to engine vibrations, if they will not shut them off see if you can get them to find a RPM with minimal vibrations. If they specialize in photography work they probably already have it figured out.

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    Re: Photographing from a boat

    Thanks for the tips. The monopod on the shoe especially ... that wouldn't have crossed my mind.

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    Re: Photographing from a boat

    I ended up renting a 24-120 f4 for a whopping $16. It was the right focal range and has image stabiilization. Worked perfectly! Not so sharp in the corners, but I was shooting for a book cover, and so shot pretty loose and croppable.

    By the way, if anyone needs a boat for photographing in the NYC waterways, Bjoern at NYC Mediaboat is awesome.
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    Senior Member Ed Hurst's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing from a boat

    What about shooting from your initial vantage point (i.e. on the same side of the water as the buildings) but stitching? With enough shots (i.e. shoot pictures well outside all corners of the area you want to cover), you should find that some stitching software gives you the flexibility to avoid the perspective looking too extreme. Try PTGui-Pro for example - that has lots of useful projections, such as equirectangular or rectinlinear. If you put the details near the edges of the covered area, the corrections could cut off areas you want, so be sure to shoot well outside the area you want. Worth a shot. Of course, if you are very close to the subject, some distortion is unavoidable.

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    Re: Photographing from a boat

    Ed, I thought about that, but decided the perspective from that far away made the structure look too flat. Things were much more interesting looking from a couple of hundred feet away. This is tentatively the image we're using. It's a pretty conventional view of the place, but seems right for a cover ... it makes it pretty clear what the book is about.

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    Senior Member Ed Hurst's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing from a boat

    Hey Paul - I meant shooting the from SAME side as the buildings, not across the water...

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    Senior Member Ed Hurst's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing from a boat

    Nice shots by the way :-)
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    Re: Photographing from a boat

    Ah, I hadn't thought of that. Could have been interesting ... never tried to stitch anything like that before.

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