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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkVallarta Living | Art Talk | March 2009 

Photo Tip of the Week: Photographing the Banderas Bay Sailing Regatta - Part 2
email this pageprint this pageemail usLarry and Linda Bennett - PVNN


Photo Tips of the Week are written by Larry Bennett, a professional photographer living in Puerto Vallarta. To view more of his work, visit LarryBennettPhotography.com.
In last week's article, we discussed many things that I do to capture images of the men, women and vessels as they sail across the water during the Banderas Bay Regatta. This week, we continue with a look at our equipment and some more shooting tips.

Equipment and Shooting Tips (Continued from last week)

Metering on your DSLR when shooting sail images can be a challenge in and of its self. Your camera’s metering system will pick up blue water and reflection and totally throw your focus and white balance off. Make sure your camera is set to shoot in continuous focus mode; this means that where you point your camera your focus will follow without having to release and depressing your shutter halfway.

When I‘m using my 70mm-200mm lens while shooting the human elements, I like to use my center spot single focus as it gives me the best and accurate readings. I do the same thing while shooting the whales. When shooting a wider range of lens, 10mm-20mm or 18mm-105mm, put more into your image and click back over to your 9 point all system focus, this seems to work the best for me.

Taking photos of the same boat and crew from as many different angles and camera positions can help to create some wonderful images. Shoot high, shoot low, and shoot close to the water as this will throw off your white balance. Again, you need to keep an eye on your histogram and watch your F stop. If your settings are off, a beautiful white sail can be totally washed out so keep a constant eye on your settings and don’t be afraid to break or make your own rules. Get silly and have some fun, shoot your images a few inches above water level, shot from on top of the boat if possible and be creative as there are no rules.

RAW vs JPEG and Pixels

This section is pretty much like some of the other articles I have written, but the topic of this section remains the most debated subject among professional photographers. What are you going to do with your images? The answer to this question will determine how you are effected by RAW, JPEG, and pixels.

If you’re shooting images for a family vacation, then shooting in JPEG is wonderful. If you’re going to enlarge the images and sell them, then shooting in RAW will most likely be your best bet. I shoot my images using both JPEG and RAW and can change from one to the other in just a few seconds.

I prefer to shoot images using JPEG most of the time; however, shooting in RAW does give you all the control you will need for that image. You can always add light, reduce light, add color, etc., and the list goes on. I understand RAW and use it when needed or wanted, there is a time and place for RAW images and action whale images is not it. To use camera RAW you must post process your image.

Photoshop CS3, Coral Paint Shop Pro, and Lightroom are the three programs I use for post processing. I use Picasa 3 as my storage locker and dump library. I like Picasa 3 and it’s a fun program without all the brain twisters that come with CS3 and some of the others. I have made enlargements up to 40"x40" with no color, saturation, or pixel problems just on compressed JPEG and TIFF images.

With the newer cameras being in the 21 mg pixel category, some photographers have asked if their camera is good enough. Don’t worry about this. People get so caught up in the pixel size of their camera. The pixels actually mean size or how big can I make this print?

Some of the best whale images I have seen were shot with an 8 pixel camera. Don’t get me wrong, I love pixels and plan on buying one of the new 25 pixel cameras coming out this spring, but I have also taken many wonderful whale images with lower pixel cameras and so can you.

If you’re into saving space on your memory card then stay away from shooting in RAW as it will eat up your memory very easy. For the amount of memory it takes to store 1 RAW image you could use the same amount of memory to store 6 JPEG images so you can see that you need a lot of memory space to shoot in RAW.

Since we are talking about memory and space, I shoot 8 GB 300 speed memory cards. I find that these work the best for me because I tend to shoot a lot of action pictures. On an average day of shooting in the bay, I shoot approximately 600 images but will only keep about 30 of those. Remember digital photography is free so snap away as you can never have too many images.

Finally You’re Off the Water

If you’ve been reading any of my prior photo tip columns, you’ve heard this before and you will continue to hear me say, it’s time to clean your equipment! For those of you using high end cameras, please listen. I have sacrificed far too many cameras to the Gods of the bay, so please learn from my mistakes, and wash your equipment!

Take a damp (not wet) towel and wipe it down, everything but your glass. Then dry your camera good with a dry towel. If you have canned air, it is a good idea to use it both prior and after wiping your camera to make sure all the sand and sea mist is gone. Another good tip is to carry a couple of heavy trash bags with you, I have been on the bay many, many times that a storm, wind or just ruff sea’s hit, I will always take the low road, pack up my gear and wrap my camera back packs in trash bags or sea bags for the wet trip back to port.

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Photo Tips of the week are written by Larry Bennett, a professional photographer living in Puerto Vallarta. These tips are to be just tips, refer to your cameras owner's manual for specifics on your camera. Readers are welcome to enjoy Larry's website at LarryBennettPhotography.com.

Click HERE for more Photo Tips from Larry Bennett
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the included information for research and educational purposes • m3 © 2009 BanderasNews ® all rights reserved • carpe aestus