On The Water With Onne

For aspiring sailing photographers, an evening shooting photos with Onne van der Wal is like golfing with Phil Mickelson, hitting balls with Roger Federer or skiing with Lindsey Vonn—there’s nothing quite like hanging out with your idol in his or her element.
Author:
Publish date:

<< Back 

 Demonstrating in Newport, Rhode Island

Demonstrating in Newport, Rhode Island

For aspiring sailing photographers, an evening shooting photos with Onne van der Wal is like golfing with Phil Mickelson, hitting balls with Roger Federer or skiing with Lindsey Vonn—there’s nothing quite like hanging out with your idol in his or her element.

Last summer, SAIL designer Isa Pagani and I participated in an Onne van der Wal on-water photography workshop in Newport, Rhode Island. From 1500 hours to sunset, we and a dozen other photography enthusiasts rode aboard Gansett, a gorgeous restored lobster boat owned and operated by Jeff O’Brian, a former America’s Cup chase boat driver. As Jeff expertly drove us around his home waters, Onne lectured about how to take better photos of boats at anchor, boats under sail, well-lit landscapes, poorly lit landscapes, wildlife and people. The tour began in Newport Harbor, packed with impressive yachts, and continued along the shoreline, past Fort Adams State Park, out to Castle Island and to the darling lighthouse beyond, before heading back to shoot a Shields race and finally, the sunset over the Jamestown Bridge.

 Onne sharing his knowledge with Meredith

Onne sharing his knowledge with Meredith

Along the way, Onne interacted with us all personally, watching over shoulders to offer helpful tips. In addition to teaching the basics, Onne also brought along six new Canon lenses, which students borrowed to broaden their skill set.

As we sailed along, Onne spoke into the loudspeaker, “This is a nice long-angle shot” as we passed a lighthouse; “This is good for a wide-angle lens” as the sun set beyond the bridge; “Watch your histogram here” when the sun finally broke through the clouds; “Your cameras will want to overexpose as the light grows.” Onne talked about composition, described how to read a histogram and helped adjust our settings to match the surroundings.

 Demonstrating lens selection during an on-water photo seminar with Onne van der Wal in Newport, Rhode Island

Demonstrating lens selection during an on-water photo seminar with Onne van der Wal in Newport, Rhode Island

The 14 students came from a wide variety of backgrounds. A painter from Ft. Worth, Texas, came to take photos for her paintings—she’d never been to New England before and was delighted by both the scenery and the delicious complimentary lobster roll. A U.S. Marine from Florida came to learn about on-water photography, and several retired folks with a photography hobby drove in to learn from the master.

On post-production work, Onne said, “I don’t overdo when I’m editing. I try to think back and remember why I was struck by the image in the first place. I also don’t take endless photos; I wait for the right photo.” On setting up a shot from a boat, Onne said to shoot from “leeward and aft,” to get in the most faces and the most boat. Mostly, he encouraged us to practice. “The only way to learn to shoot with a modern-day SLR camera is to get outside and do it. Inside classes are fine, but there’s nothing like being out on the water.”

In his 25-plus years of sailing photography, Onne’s shot it all, so he has plenty of knowledge from which to cull. He teaches workshops in Newport three times a summer and is hoping to expand with workshops abroad in places like the Bahamas and Croatia.

 Photo by Isa Pagani

Photo by Isa Pagani


As the Shields fleet took off on the final leg of their race, sailing toward the Jamestown Bridge and the sunset, Onne commented on the geometry occurring between the heeled-over masts and the uprights of the bridge. Anyone could have seen the beauty; Onne was there to teach us how to capture it.

More on Sailing Photography

Onne_Link
Catboating_0
underwater_link

Photo Seminar with Onne Van der Wal

For aspiring sailing photographers, an evening shooting photos with Onne is like golfing with Phil Mickelson (More...)

6 Tips for Smarter

Smartphone Photography


Clever tips for using your smartphone's built-in camera to achieve the best possible photos. (More...

The Latest and Greatest

in Waterproof Camera
s


We compare the cost and capabilities of seven popular underwater cameras so you can decide which is best for you (More..)

Related

albintoilet

Gear: Albin Pump Marine Toilet

Head Start Is there room for a new marine toilet? Albin Pump Marine thinks so, having just introduced its line of Swedish-built heads—ranging from compact to full-size models—to the American market. The toilets feature vitreous porcelain bowls and either wooden or thermoplastic ...read more

07n_45R2699

Multihull Sailor: Classic Cats

If you’re looking for a decent sub-40ft cruising cat, you have few choices when it comes to new-boat offerings. It is a well-known fact that the multihull market has taken off in a way very few could have predicted. Despite Hurricane Irma’s recent destruction of a large part of ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Thanks a bunch  This scene is very calm and seamanlike. No frantic rope throwing or shouting. As he passes the line to the gent on the dock, the crew on the boat says, quietly and clearly, “Would you ...read more

mcarthy-and-mouse

Experience: McCarthy and the Mouse

Sitting at the helm in a light breeze, my arms crusted with a fine rime of salt, my skin so dry I’d lost my fingerprints, I heard a clatter and a curse from below. There were only three of us a thousand miles from shore and only one on watch at a time. Usually, the off watch lay ...read more

2018-giftGuide

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

Brass Yacht Lamp Does someone on your gift list spend the whole winter missing the warm days on the water? Let them bring a little bit of nautical atmosphere home with this new lamp from Weems & Plath. The glass enclosure means the flame cannot be blown out even by ...read more

image001

Opinion: On Not Giving Up Sailing

E.B. White was 64 when he wrote his now-famous essay “The Sea and the Wind That Blows,” which begins as a romantic paean to sailing and then drifts, as if spun around by a pessimistic eddy of thought, into a reflection on selling his boat. Does an aging sailor quit while he’s ...read more

1812-JeanneaueNewsVideo

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410

Designed by Marc Lombard, the Sun Odyssey 410 shares much in common with her older siblings including of course, the walk-around deck. Other features that set the 410 apart from other models being introduced this year include the 410’s “negative bow” shape allowing for a longer ...read more