Two years ago, we took our first ever Cruise, spending 7 days aboard the Princess Cruise Line Diamond Princess on the Alaskan “Inside Passage.” That trip was, for me, partly about photographing much of the Alaskan wilderness that seems to be everywhere you look up there. Last month, we took our second cruise, and this time, we went to the Eastern Caribbean. I expected the sun to be hotter and the “window” of time I might be able to shoot reduced. I also really didn’t know what to expect, photographically, but did think (correctly) that we would be out in the mid-day sun much of the time.
My primary approach to photography has been Landscape and Nature, occasionally venturing into buildings and city shots. The vast majority of my images are shot from a tripod and the venue is generally a “planned” location. For the Caribbean Cruise, I deliberately left the “gear,” including my tripod, at home, opting to carry only my Canon G12 Point and Shoot. I probably won’t do that again. I do plan to return to the Caribbean—probably on another cruise—and there were a number of times that I missed my tripod and my more versatile DSLR and lenses. The G12 only reaches approximately 140mm and that extra 60mm would have been helpful on a number of occasions. I also would have liked the ability to more quickly and easily adjust lens aperture and shutter speed (the G12 can do this, but it is awkward in comparison to the DSLR). There were a couple of low light opportunities which required a tripod and I just “missed” those. Of course, much of the low light opportunities would have been from a moving platform (the ship generally sailed from port before dark and moved from port to port during the nighttime hours). Most remarkably, the smaller sensor with smaller photo sites really didn’t handle the low light noise issue very well at all!
I was pleasantly surprised at the many different photographic opportunities in the Caribbean. One thing I came back with was the realization that much of the venue is about vivid color. Some of the color comes from “tourist-oriented” shops and shopping. But a fair amount of it comes from the local use of color in architecture and from nature. I was amazed at the azure color of the water, especially in the shallow areas near land. And in a geographic area in which the average number of sunny days is in the 340 plus range, there was plenty of colorful sky (blue during the days and reds, yellows and oranges in the twilight hours).
But I found myself shooting more like a travel photographer might shoot, trying to illustrate the places we visited and some of the local “color.” I am not sure I had any success, but I was surprised at the number of images I made during the trip. Unfortunately, cruises usually mean only an abbreviated visit to each stop and it was difficult to get out of the “tourist” zones. Someday, I would like to go back and spend more time in some of the locations—especially St. Maarten.
We started the cruise at the cruise-line-owned Princess Cay, in the Bahamas. While this venue was 100% vacationing tourist oriented, I found the colors (whether or not “contrived”) a good photographic opportunity. I was especially drawn to the colorfully painted rental cabanas as graphic photographic elements.
While I had always heard that one of the hallmarks of the Caribbean was how clear the water was, I had not been there and you really have to see it to be a believer. During the week, we stopped at St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Grand Turk. In future blogs, I will post some of the results of my shooting in each of these locations.