Photographing Boats

Since I sell many of the boats I make, I like to document them before I send them off into the world. While I like on-the-water shot, I often have need for studio style shots that don't have the distraction of a background. Typically a white or black background works well.

I use one end of my shop as a studio for these photos. I start out with a 40 foot long by 10 foot wide muslin backdrop that I clip to the garage door track. I put a pair of saw horses under the muslin and place the boat on the saw horses.

For lighting I have 3 Nikon Speedlights that I point at the ceiling over the boat. These operate in slave mode controlled by the flash on my Nikon SLR. I adjust the exposure so the lightest parts of the boat are just short of getting washed out so the background will be as black as possible.

In the image above you can see a Speedlight on top of the board between the two garage door rails. I tweaked the exposure to highlight the cloth, but this is pretty much what it looks like to the eye. The light shining through the garage door windows is clearly visible, but by adjusting the exposure I can make it go away in the final image. I also crop out all the stuff surrounding the boat.