I love boats. I mean I really love boats. Back in 2006 my interest in boats grew and I began specializing my advertising photography career more into the world of transportation (boats, planes, cars, etc). I began to shoot for a lot of boat manufacturers and soon enough I was getting various boat manufacturers from around Canada and the United States shipping their product to the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, where I make my home. They often ship their products up here to the City of Kelowna to be photographed but I don't think that they are shipping their products here just because of me.


Kelowna is nestled on the banks of Okanagan Lake - a pristine body of water over 130km in length that is an amazing staging ground for boat photography. Kelowna has been called the "Monaco of Canada" and it is the perfect backdrop for some of the world's best boating brands.


Vector Powerboats arguably makes one of the most unique and beautiful superboats on the planet. They are masterfully designed by Neil Gilbert and assembled right here in beautiful Kelowna, BC. At 1200 horsepower and with a top speed of about 130MPH, the Vector V40 begs to be chased by high-powered helicopters. And many helicopters can't keep up.


As seen in the episode, on this assignment we started out on the water doing some boat-to-boat photography. We drove to a provincial park called Rattlesnake Island where a helicopter picked us up for the aerial work.


When shooting from a helicopter, there are a number of important considerations to be made. Most important is safety. Prior to beginning the shoot, we conduct a very thorough safety briefing involving the crew, the pilot of the helicopter, the drivers of the boats and the models. Everyone knows exactly what is going to happen prior to take-off.


Once airborne, communication becomes exceptionally difficult. The noise of the helicopter, the wind, and the extreme noise coming from the boat's engines makes it almost impossible for radio communication. This is where hand signals for various maneuvers work really well. 


For my own safety, I am always harnessed to two seperate points in a helicopter. One is generally to a closed seat belt and the other is to the frame of the aircraft. I wrap the seat belt buckle with electrical tape and carry a knife to quickly cut myself away if necessary. I also wear an inflatable belt pack PFD in case we crash land in the drink and I am knocked unconscious.


When shooting boats from the air I like the viewer of the photograph to get a sense of the speed that the boat is going. To accomplish this goal I use a Kenyon KS-8 handheld gyrostabilizer. This wonderful tool, in conjunction with stabilized lenses, allows me to slow my shutter speed way down by reducing my ISO and using high f-stops (small apertures). 

SPECS  f/16, 1/80 second exposure, ISO 100, 52mm lens        LOCATION  49.837491, -119.511374

SPECS  f/22, 1/25 second exposure, ISO 50, 20mm lens        LOCATION  49.801768, -119.598402

SPECS  f/16, 1/50 second exposure, ISO 50, 16mm lens        LOCATION  49.801768, -119.598402


After landing and wrapping up our very successful aerial shoot, we headed off to a large warehouse to photograph the interior shots. As I mentioned in the episode, I like to take black fabric called 'duvetyne' and place it over top of all of the glass. This allows the reflections from the cockpit and all of the little lights throughout the boat to be reflected in the glass.  I also utilize large overhead softboxes for getting nice, soft, even light throughout the boat's interior.

SPECS  f/14, 4 second exposure, ISO 400, 24mm lens        LOCATION  Studio warehouse


At the end of the day, not only did we enjoy a thrilling boat shoot with a great client and an awesome crew, but we also landed the cover of one of my favorite boating publications.

SPECS  f/16, 6 second exposure, ISO 640, 14mm lens        LOCATION  Studio warehouse