One of the best ways to capture travel shots these days is on a cruise ship or small boat. Not only do you get the chance to shoot all of the amazing ports you stop at along the way, you can take photos of the boat or ship itself as well as the scenery you pass by while sailing the waterways.

Before heading out, remember when on a boat you’re always around water. This means there is likely going to be water spray, waves, and foam when you’re traveling. Because of this, you need to make sure you protect your camera and gear properly. Make sure you keep your camera bag closed and be aware at all times of possible water damage.

Testing the Waters with Boating Photography

It doesn’t really matter what type of vessel you’re on, there’s always the opportunity to take photos from it, and of it. Some people even like to have themselves included in the photos taken of the boat.

When taking shots of the vessel, try to keep the subject big in the frame without any distracting foreground or background to take away from the scene.

You may have to be aware of the position of the sun when shooting on the boat, as there’s usually no shade when you’re on the water. However, if the person is in a shadow, you can add light by using fill-flash.

When taking photos from a small boat it’s dangerous to stand up, as things can get pretty rocky. If possible, make sure you have a low center of gravity when taking shots from small vessels. You’ll need to brace yourself and probably use a fast shutter speed to protect yourself against camera shake.

A good ISO to use with fast shutter speeds on the water is 400 or higher. If the digital camera is a point-and-shoot or an auto-exposure model, you may want to choose the camera’s sports mode.

When taking shots of the shore from a boat you’ll also need a pretty fast shutter speed unless the sailing is as smooth as silk. A tripod isn’t really going to help if you’re shooting scenery since the tripod will also rock with the boat.

However, if you’re taking photos on the ship it may help a little. The scenery seen from a ship can be quite beautiful and endless, but it’ll be blurry if you don’t steady the camera by hand and use a fast shutter speed.

When on a vessel it’s often tempting to take photos of other boats. To make these photos more dramatic it’s often a good idea to take these shots in stormy seas or weather if possible. This will add a sense of motion and danger. Even if the weather’s just a little misty or foggy, the photos will probably be more attractive to viewers. Remember, when shooting a moving object you should always allow for some space in the front of it so the object can move into the space.

Taking a boat or ship ride or cruise is always a lot of fun, but you’ll often find yourself with a lot of time to kill while onboard. What better way to utilize it than experimenting with your camera!


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