I have always been very interested in all kinds of ships and boats, maybe because many of my ancestors were seamen. But first and foremost I think they are very good subjects for photography. On a beautiful summer day when I was relaxing in my garden, I looked across the harbor of my hometown, Hafnarfjordur, Iceland, and saw the largest cruise ship I had ever seen.
I grabbed my camera and went down to the harbor in my car. On the way I phoned my friend who works as a head of the port authority to get permission to enter the closed off area beside the ship, and he happily obliged.
Before I describe the image itself, let me first add some information about the ship. This cruise ship, MSC Poesia, is one of the largest ships in its class. The length is 965 feet (294meters) and the beam (its width) is 32.2 meters. The displacement (the conventional way of measuring the weight of naval vessels) of the cruise ship is 89,900 tons, which provides space to hold more than 3,000 passengers and 987 crew members. MSC Poesia has 1,275 cabins for the guests and can reach a maximum speed of 23 knots. The ship is owned and operated by MSC Cruises, an Italian-Swiss shipping company.
"Suddenly, I thought to position myself beneath the ropes. I wondered: 'How would a mouse see the ship from its point of view?' "
When I got to the harbor, I had to walk a good way to the ship, and while I walked I was thinking about how I could do something different. Once I arrived at the location, I started searching (as usual) for some new angles and perspectives. Suddenly, I thought to position myself beneath the ropes. I wondered: "How would a mouse see the ship from its point of view?" I hadn't seen that done before, and I wanted to try. So I lay down on the pier at the end of the ropes and placed my camera beneath them.
"I was also pleased that a man walked by to give some sense of the scale of the ship."
I could not use the viewfinder (my head was too big!), so I took several photos until I thought I had a strong composition. This was a big ship, and I wanted the viewer to immediately appreciate the enormity of it when looking at the photo. Because the ship was the main subject, I wanted to use the lines available in the surrounding area to lead the eye to it. I was also pleased that a man walked by to give some sense of the scale of the ship. I liked the outcome, and I have recieved a lot of good and positive comments about it. This photo has also won first prize in a photo competition.
The photo was taken in RAW format, converted in Adobe Camera Raw and then processed in Photoshop CS4.
1) In Camera Raw, I had to rotate the image and crop it a bit, correcting some tilt that occurred because I couldn't really see what I was doing under the ropes.
2) I decided to convert it to monochrome; it worked better that way than as a color image.
3) In Photoshop, I made some adjustments to improve the exposure and contrast using Curves and Levels adjustment layers and the Dodge and Burn tools.
4) At the end of the processing, I sharpened the image using the Unsharp Mask filter.
1) Always try to do something new and different when taking photos.
2) Use your surroundings to lead the eye to what is most important — the ship in this case. Using the environment and what it has to offer plays a big part in creating a good composition. When the main subject has been chosen, you need to think about the supporting elements and, in particular, what appears in the foreground and what appears in the background.
3) For everything to fit together well, you need to find the best perspective/point of view, but it must always be a part of the lines that you choose as a foundation.
4) If you are going to create a similar photo, you have to be very mindful so you don't fall into the water. I had to stretch out from the pier with my camera, and with some carelessness I could have easily lost my balance and fallen — so be careful!
I am an amateur photographer and was born in Iceland in 1961. Photography has been my favorite hobby for a very long time, ever since I got my first camera when I was 12 years old. I am self-educated in photography, but have learned a lot from other photographers through the years. I travel often, which fits in well with my love for nature and landscape photography.
My photos have been published in magazines, books and on the internet in many countries and have won prizes in several international photo contests, such as the overall prize in the Digital Camera competition 2009 and a gold medal in Trierenberg Super Circuit 2013.
I work as a minister in the Lutheran church. I am married to Stefania, and we have two daughters and one grandson.