High-quality photographs are an indispensible part of Good Old Boat magazine and essential for every article’s effectiveness to show nautical locales, sailboats, and projects. Without your photos, we couldn’t share all the valuable information “the rest of us” need to improve and enhance our good old boats.
These guidelines help ensure that photos will convey an article’s intended message and guarantee the images will be compatible with our layout and printing process. It’s said that a good photo is worth a thousand words. That’s especially true with illustrative photography, as opposed to scenic or fine art photos. Showing the details of a boat’s cabin or how to replace a left-handed doohickey may be impossible with words alone. So please use these guidelines for photos that effectively convey the technical aspects of your article to readers.
PLANNING/TAKING THE PHOTOS
- CONCENTRATE on what your article is trying to show or demonstrate. Remove any distractions. Imagine how the photos will clarify your article and explain things difficult to put into words. Visualize how the images will look on the printed page.
- ISOLATE and SIMPLIFY your subject. Make certain what you are showing contrasts with the background. If your article is about solving a problem, show the essential steps toward the solution without visual distractions. In a boat review, the boat should be the center of attention. When you’re composing the photo, check all four corners for unwanted distractions. It is crucial to remove visual clutter.
- KEEP THE HORIZON LEVEL and BULKHEADS UPRIGHT. (Need we say more?)
- THINK LIKE A CAMERA. It’s all about light and contrast. Avoid harsh shadows and bright patches by shooting in muted natural light, when the sky is slightly overcast. This will show details clearly without distracting bright spots or dark obscuring shadows. If photography in bright sun is unavoidable, have someone hold an umbrella or car sunscreen to shade your subject or use their body to block the rays. Sometimes a flash will remove shadows on close subjects and a polarizing filter can help reduce glare and reflections. In boat interiors, avoid the reflected flare on smooth and varnished surfaces by shooting in soft diffused light.
- GET SHARP. Focus should be extremely precise, especially with close-ups. Use a small flexible tripod. If that’s not possible, steady the camera on a bag of rice, your first mate’s shoulder, or a bulkhead. Use your camera’s remote control or timer to get a steadier shot. For point-and-shoot cameras, check your focus settings.
- USE CREATIVE PERSPECTIVES. Try a variety of heights, angles, and distances from the subject. Experiment with different zoom distances, using the camera and your feet. Slight changes can make a big difference in emphasis, lighting, and background clutter. Try a waterproof camera to shoot at or below the waterline.
- LEAVE BREATHING SPACE around the main image for the graphic designer to work with.
- PERSISTENCE and the DELETE KEY are essential for getting good (and great) photos. The better the photographers, the more photos they take . . . and delete.
- TECHNICAL STUFF
- Format high-resolution (hi-res) digital photos in jpg format.
- High-resolution (hi-res) photos must be 1200 x 1600 pixels minimum, but bigger is better. Set your camera for the highest resolution and the largest file size.
- Turn off the date stamp on digital photos (this is the editor’s pet peeve).
- Do not tweak digital images. This can degrade them when saved too often.
- Narrow down the number of images to your very best shots, no more than a dozen.
- Video formats are not acceptable for print; however we may be able to use them on our website.
FOR BROWNIE POINTS
- Check back issues of Good Old Boat for examples of good photographs.
- Provide horizontal and vertical shots of the same subject.
- Use your name or article subject as the photo file name(s), e.g. anseladams1.jpg, anseladams2.jpg, holdingtank1.jpg, holdingtank2.jpg.
- Email captions to match each file name in a separate file.
COVER AND SCENIC PHOTOS
- Cover photos must be vertical format, have plenty of space at the top, and be extra-large hi-res format (approximately 2700 x 3600 pixels or 9 x 12 inches at 300 dpi).
- We do like good old boats in scenic settings either at anchor or sailing. We also like to show the people aboard and would like to see more covers submitted that show the sailors aboard having a good time.
- Check several previous issues for examples. Also check other magazines for examples of high-quality nautical photos. Excellent composition is very important.
- Be imaginative. Think outside the nautical box.
- Even if you don’t have an article to go with it, a, good cover image is always cheerfully received and considered.
- We don’t print racing photos or wooden boats on our covers. Those confuse potential subscribers about what our magazine’s all about.
PHOTOS WE TEND TO AVOID
- Blurry photos, even if everything else is perfect.
- Cluttered boats, cluttered cabins.
- Overly posed photos of people.
- Boat photo clichés.
WHEN IN DOUBT
Contact: Michael Robertson – Good Old Boat Magazine if you have any questions.
The goal of this photo was to show the Main Cabin for a refit boat article. The lighting was predominantly dark with a few bright shafts of sunlight.
Photo 1 – Using a flash in an area as large as a cabin didn’t provide enough light.
Photo 2 – We held the camera very steady and used only available light.
Photo 3 – We slightly changed the viewpoint, removed the clutter, and waited for a passing cloud to mute the bright sunlight.
Later we realized it would have been better to remove the green float from the V-berth rather than shoving it in corner!