What are the Camera gears you should carry on a ship for sea photography?
It is almost everyone’s dream to sail on a boat or a private yacht or travel in a cargo ship at least once in their lifetime. And very few people get the opportunity to travel in ships and sail for thousands of miles experiencing the world of the ocean which is unique and beautiful in its own way.
Travelling at sea is a completely different and challenging experience compared to other modes of transport.
With days, weeks, and months spent travelling at sea, your ship becomes your second home. You get to see and experience something which is not accessible to everyone.
While sailing, you will have plenty of time to look around and experience the surreal journey. You can capture those unique moments at the sea with a proper camera gear meant to help sailors in all weather conditions and specific needs of ocean photography.
Here are some tips and gear recommendations to help you capture memories at sea.
1. Ready to Shoot Camera ( Point and Shoot )
Point and shoot (P&S) cameras are those which are compact, lightweight, easy to use cameras. Your mobile camera is also a P&S camera. Even though Mobile cameras are getting better each day with zoom integration, the P&S digital cameras offer more flexibility in terms of zoom, megapixel, modes.
Main Advantages of Point and Shoot (P&S) Cameras
- Compact: when you try a DSLR and a P&S camera to take pictures, P&S feels more compact and comfortable as a camera gear. It would fit right into your handbag, DSLR is heavier and need more space in your bag to carry. DSLR needs additional lenses and tripods to get the best out of it which will burden you with increased luggage. If you love simple pictures and don’t want to spend extra time and energy setting up the camera. You should definitely go for P&S
- Affordable: P&S cameras are basically cost less than $300, even the most advanced. whereas DSLR will cost you around $599 if you want to buy a decent one. Even though P&S will not give you the quality of a DSLR, it does a decent job for its price.
- No other gear needed: If you are not interested in becoming a pro at photography, you can save money by not having to buy additional camera gear for your P&S camera. With a DSLR you need to have additional gear like lenses, tripod, filters and a separate bag to carry all of it.
Why Point and Shoot (P&S) Camera is a Better Choice at Sea?
When you are at sea, you probably take care of other things in the journey. You might get your hands full and the rough seas can create difficulty in carrying a heavier camera.
P&S allows you to take pictures in any situation without much effort. It fits right into your pocket and you can shoot some amazing seascape pictures with P&S. The drawback is that you cannot have much control over shutter speed and aperture.
Zoom has to be compromised as it will have a limited zoom with the average quality compared to the zoom lenses of a DSLR.
2. DSLR Camera
DSLR( Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera is the most preferred type of camera for every aspiring photographer. DSLR is a versatile camera which offers a wide range of possibilities in photography.
Main Advantages of DSLR
- Best image quality: DSLRs have much bigger and advanced sensors than P&S cameras. With a Better sensor and reduced noise and improved image, DSLR offers the best image quality. Sensitivity to light is higher in DSLR and you can capture sharp low light pictures you can never be able to capture in P&S.
- Versatile: DSLR offers complete control over the settings of the camera, mainly the shutter speed and the Aperture which define a picture. Depending on the situation you can change them to cater to your needs. for example, you need a higher shutter speed to capture a flying bird but you need a lower aperture to shoot sunset pictures from your ship. DSLR gives you different modes which are highly specialized to give you the best image possible.
- Better Investment: Even though DSLRs cost higher than P&S, it is worth the investment. With some additional lenses and a tripod, you will be empowered with the most powerful gear to capture the most awesome and realistic pictures.
Why DSLR is a better choice at Sea?
At sea, most of the time you want to capture far away landscapes or horizon or jumping dolphins. With a DSLR you can freeze the waves and also make the motion of the waves appear in your picture using slow shutter speed and a tripod. You can either choose to have an ultra zoom lens to capture things you see from your binoculars or you can have a FishEye lens to capture whatever is in your naked eye. DSLR thus gives you flexibility and offers the most professional output.
With P&S camera you won’t be having a choice on what lens to pick but with DSLR there is a wide range of lenses which offer different perspectives of the photography. A few of them are mentioned below
- Fish Eye
Fish Eye lens is known as Fish Eye because of its ability to capture ultra-wide-angle pictures. They usually offer almost 120-180 degrees angle of view. They are one of the best lenses to capture seascape photos. But they come with a little distorted output with bulging in the middle. If you like your things to look the same as you see and you don’t want straight lines to bend in your picture then the fisheye lens is not for you. But still, it is worth trying.
- Ultra-Wide Angle lens
If you want to capture the widest angle picture with minimal distortion then the Ultra Wide angle lenses are the best. They let you capture some of the beautiful wide angle pictures. Make sure to keep the aperture above f15 to get everything in the picture to remain sharp. And all the filters can be easily attached to the wide-angle because the sky takes the most part while clicking with the wide angle lens.
- Bokeh or Portrait lens
Everyone loves the bokeh effect. It gives a nice depth of field in your pictures. But bokeh lens is mainly used to capture people or animals or anything which is in close proximity. With aperture ranging from f1.8, they offer more light to come in and make the background blur to give that bokeh effect. If you are seriously looking to capture a sea or waves then bokeh lens is not a good option. You can use this lens to take pictures of your family or friends sailing with you with the blurred sea at the background.
- A telephoto lens or zoom lens
When you are sailing, you would definitely come across many marine animals, marine birds, other ships, and far away landscapes which you would love to capture. The telephoto lens helps you out in this situation with long focal length and Optical Zoom. You can simply capture a ship which is sailing miles away with the help of Telephoto lens. It is the second best lens to carry with you after ultra wide angle lens when you are at sea.
- Polarizing Filter
The most common and famous filter used by seascape photographers is the polarizing filter. It creates depth and reduces reflections and bright light. It acts as a sunglass to the lens. It is the most ideal filter for seascape or landscape photography. They will darken the skies and reduce reflections in the water making the picture look natural and saturated.
- Neutral Density Filter
These are the light blockers. They act as a shield to block the excess light from the sun or studio flashes. By reducing the intensity of the light it allows you to take slow shutter speed images. If you are planning to take a nice seascape picture with the motion of the waves to be represented like a foam then ND filter is for you. There are two subtypes in the ND filter namely hard edge and soft edge.
- Hard Edge Filter
It comes with a sharp grey half and a clearcut transition at the centre. It is mostly used to balance high contrast scenes with flat horizons with bright skies and dark foreground. It is best for seascape photography.
- Soft Edge Filter
It is the most commonly used filter for a smooth gradient between the dark and the bright areas. When the horizon is not straight the soft edge allows smoother transitional pictures during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset. Grab one soft edge filter before you reach the sea.
5. Go Pro
Go pro has revolutionized the way people take pictures and record videos. Go Pro allows you to mount the tiny HD camera on your head or hand or anywhere on your body to capture the real-life experience footage. Instead of worrying about handling the camera, you can simply mount and forget.
It’s always fun to be at sea when the weather is unstable when seas are rough. It becomes more interesting when you are able to record the footage without losing the control of your job at sea. It gives you the comfort of recording footage when your hands are full of other important work.
Do you know that one of the most viral videos out there in social media is the videos of ships sailing through rough seas?
Are you equipped with GoPro to capture such awesome moments?
Tripods are essential to capture stable and sharp pictures. There are a few types of tripods that help you on your voyage.
- Regular Tripod
A regular tripod allows you to mount your camera on the tripod to get you a stable and crisp picture. Most of them are simple to use and affordable too. You can set it up on your ship and mount your camera to take the picture at the right time. Tripods are essential to take TimeLapse videos or pictures. Most of the sea sailors use TimeLapse mode to capture the journey. But without any grip to the flood, it can move easily when the ship vibrates. So regular tripods are difficult to use at sea.
- Magnetic Tripod
These are mainly used for point and shoot camera. They are small flexible tripods with magnetic legs which can hold on to any mental objects. It allows you to mount your camera and tripod to your ship and get footage as ship’s inbuilt camera. It is the most preferred tripod for small cameras.
- Suction Cup Tripod
As the name suggests, this tripod consists of suction cups at the bottom of the legs. It allows you to mount your heavy DSLR to your tripod and make the tripod stick to the floor using Suction Cup. In this way, your tripod won’t move irrespective of the wind, tilt, waves and rough sea. It is ideal to carry a Suction Cup Tripod to places where regular tripod fails to stay steady.
With clip-on, you can simply clip your Go pro or DSLR to the wall or a table or anything that can hold a clip. This allows you to mount your camera to any place as good as a well-fixed CCTV camera. In rough weather, if you are not willing to mount GoPro on your body, you can simply use clip on to mount the GoPro anywhere you want on the ship.
Another fascinating gear you can use is the stabilizer. As you sail through the sea and as the ship moves and vibrates a lot. the stabilizer helps you to get a steady video or a photo. They give a smooth transition to sudden moves. The stabilizer is essential to seascape photography.
Remote allows you to set the camera in place and gives you the flexibility to take pictures sitting far away from your camera. It is essential to take group pictures as well when you don’t want to miss out in the picture. Unlike timer which makes you run here and there, remote allows you to take pictures at your own will. It is the most used tool in wildlife photography. You can simply mount your camera at the beach or your ship and wait for the birds to come and land in the area. Remote is crucial gear to carry when you have no one to capture your own picture and you need the whole background to be captured like a normal photo unlike a selfie
8. Hard Camera Case
When you work or travel at sea. You must be prepared for all sorts of weather conditions. With P&S or DSLR in your hand, it is better to protect it with a Hard Case. It protects the camera from dust, wind, rain and gives you a stress-free photography experience.
Drone photography is the norm of the day. It gives the most cinematic and awesome footage which is impossible to achieve with a handheld camera. Drone photography can be best utilized while travelling at sea. We regularly see some stunning videos of whales, dolphins, penguins and many more using drone camera in social media. Why don’t you make one yourself?
There are few things to keep in mind before opting for sea photography. Unlike normal drone photography, sea poses a risk of losing the drone in water. You need to have some expertise in drone flying before experimenting on your ship. You need to get a well-equipped drone which can fly far away without losing contact and stays in the air even after losing contact.
Drones rely on a compass, GPS and other communication tools. While at sea these tools might get disturbances due to weather, location. Hence it is better to use drones to capture footage only when you already have some practice in flying them.
10. Universal Plug and Extension Board
Whether to charge your phone or a camera you need to have a universal plug in your bag to make travel less painful. When travelling at sea, you need extension board as well. You don’t want to sit near the charging point when you need to work outside the ship. You can use an extension board to make yourself comfortably charge your electronics wherever you want.
With the above gear in your hands, you will be doing wonders in capturing moments while you travel at sea. If you work full time at sea then you should have some hobby to get a break from mundane work in a ship.
Sea Photography offers you to discover life in a completely new way. You will be able to share your wonderful experience with all of your loved ones and also with the world in general via social media. Let the world also witness what you SEE at SEA.
Disclaimer: The authors’ views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Marine Insight. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendation on any course of action to be followed by the reader.
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