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Top Tips On Taking Phtos From A Private Charter Boat

Creative photographer Gavin Parsons shares some tips on taking photographs from a boat.

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Gavin Parsons is a creative commercial photographer with a passion for wildlife and underwater photography. You can see his work at


1. Choose The Right Boat

Ferries are great for getting you from A to B, but not brilliant for photography. Special tourist trips or even a specialist charter will ensure you have a better opportunity at photography. However a tourist ride, which everyone can join, may show you some lovely sights, but not necessarily at the time to suit photography. They also have a schedule to keep, so won’t hang around for the right light or for a particular subject.

If you really want to concentrate on photography, opt for a specialist charter boat. A private charter allows you to take maximise whatever photographic opportunities arise. But choose a good skipper, who understands what you are looking for. Ask questions about local landmarks you may want to photograph, they will often come up with a few ideas you hadn’t though of.

2. Pay Attention To The Weather

Again this is where a good skipper comes in. Too much wind will make any journey uncomfortable, so make sure you have a back up plan. Choose a number of sites around a stretch of coastline and talk to the skipper several days before your trip to check what the upcoming weather will do.
Also bring warm and waterproof clothing, even during the summer.

Shack on river

3. Tripods Are Not Practical

A boat is, by nature, an unstable platform. You are best off hand holding your camera and shooting with a higher than normal ISO. Modern cameras provide great quality even with really high ISO values, which means even landscape photography from a boat is now achievable.
If you are using a long lens for wildlife, then take a beanbag and balance it on the side of the boat. Be aware though of the vibration from the engine. On some boats its best to wait until the engine is switched off before using this method.

4. Filter Up

Pack polarising, UV and grey graduated filters to cope with the different lighting you will face. The Polarising filter will darken clouds and the sea, a UV will both give a better quality to your images and protect the lens from any drops of seawater. And the Graduated filter can darken the sky to create dramatic effects.


5. Experiment With Angles

If you have a camera with a flip out viewing screen, utilise it to get a really low angle for example. Be careful not to get your camera wet, but on a calm day you can hang the camera over the side of the boat. The results are very impressive.

If its wildlife you are after, remember, you don’t necessarily need a huge telephoto as seals, dolphins and whales can come right up to a boat. Which, in my opinion, makes photographing from a boat superior to standing on a beach.


Gavin Parsons is a creative commercial photographer with a passion for wildlife and underwater photography. You can see his work at

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Thanks so much for the post! I will definitely be trying these tips, including hiring a charter boat for a more relaxed, productive trip. I love photography, and these tips will elevate me to the next level!
27 Aug 2013 8:32AM
Very Impressive points for boating. thanks for sharing.

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