Shooting the Endeavour and then the HMS Pickle and Atyla from Whitby pier whetted my appetite for shooting tall ships. Capturing them from the end of the pier gave me some great views of ships, but also posed some photographic challenges. I’d come prepared with two camera bodies and a range of focal length lens to cover most eventualities, but it soon became apparent that it was going to be more difficult than I’d imagined! I started with a 100-400 (200-800mm equivalent) lens while the ships were out at sea, but despite them coming in slowly, I soon needed something wider, so opted for a 24-70 as they came into the harbour. But the trouble with tall ships is they are, well……..tall! So, a wide-angle lens would have been useful to get the masts in shot.
Reviewing my images later, confirmed that there was some potential for this to become an interesting project with possibilities to do something a little different. The problem was I really had to somehow get amongst the ships when they were in full sail, so I decided to take a trip up to Sunderland for the tall ships race. I did some research, but the ships would be too far out to sea to shoot them from the seafront, so getting onto Roker pier looked like a good bet. I contacted the race organisers and soon learned that the ships wouldn’t be in full sail until well after they’d cleared the harbour, so a plan C was needed. I contacted the organisers again and managed to get a ride on one of the tall ships during the “Parade of Sail”.
I drove up to Sunderland and took the park and ride to the port, arriving in good time to take in the sights on what proved to be a blisteringly hot day. My ride for the afternoon proved to be the beautiful 62m long tall ship Wylde Swan and we sailed gracefully out of the port to join the other ships making their way along the coast towards Souter and back again.
The captain handled the big ship with calm and precision, but by the very nature of these ships, he had to keep well clear of other craft, so didn’t get as close to the other tall ships as I’d hoped and wielding a long lens from a gently pitching vessel proved a challenge to say the least! I’d planned to compose my shots with plenty of negative space for the ships to sail into, but in reality, just capturing the whole ship was a work of art in itself.
All in all, a great day out and it taught me a lot and I do have some ideas on how to take this project forward, so when’s the next big yacht regatta?