Home » Blog » diary » Racing Yachts Marine Paintings, Marine Photography

Racing Yachts Marine Paintings, Marine Photography

I still find photographing marine art, well, any paintings, stressful.

I am yet to find a camera or film that always makes a good job of this even under ideal conditions and worse, some paintings are more difficult to copy than others, why?

Ice_Maiden_06.03.10_IMG_6982_d.jpgI have just re photographed two of the largest major marine paintings in my collection, “Ice Maiden” ( see page http://www.frickers.co.uk/prints.html for a limited edition copy) and “Yamaha“,Yamaha_painting_2_IMG_6975_d.jpg also the new painting “Racing Yachts“.

So where is the problem?The problem is accurate colour, cameras, Photoshop version nine billon or what ever it is up to can’t hack it.

More of this issue and bit of a giggle below.


First the new painting Racing Yachts is nearing completion, based on no particular event, rather memories of the times I worked with the Rolex Nautor Swan European Regatta Fleets to provuide a painting of the winner for presentation that evening. Yacht_racing__Swans__IMG_6967.jpg

There are several examples from those days on the web site, pages http://www.frickers.co.uk/marine-art/alvine_xii.html and http://www.frickers.co.uk/marine-art/k_6888.html will give you a taste.

If you taste is for cool art, have a good look at Ice Maiden.

Now, here is a fabulous large painting 762 x 1016mm (30″ x 40″) and an ideal gift, inspiration the for  professional woman.

You may recall, the Maiden Team were the first all women team to race round the world?

They effectively broke a “glass ceiling” by winning two legs of the race.

This painting was requested by the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich for their racing yacht collection but as it is such a stunner I have managed to keep it thus far for special exhibitions.Ice_Maiden_det_2_IMG_6984_d.jpg

The photograph on the web site was taken probably 18 or more years ago and was digitalised 11 years ago hence time for an update!

That said, make me an offer I can’t refuse and I’ll think about selling “Ice Maiden“.

Yamaha, this painting also has special story.

It is one of a pair I produced when Yamaha won the Whitbread Round the World Race.

The pictures were painted because of a commission from Mitusi Machinery (who were the Yamaha importer).

The (Japanese) directors wished to give the painting to the President in Japan as a token of success, they called the painting “One Race One Victory”.

I interviewed the crew and inspected the boat the day they finished at Southampton then prepared two paintings.Yamaha_det_2_IMG_6974_d.jpg

The Company duly bought one for their President but refused to be tempted by the other for the UK offices.

Consequently I loaned this powerful marine painting first to the Royal Southampton Yacht Club and later to the Mount Batten Water Sport Centre from which I recovered the painting last November and at last we have had a day on which I can photograph this fine marine painting.

I intend to keep this fine example in reserve for significant exhibitions where I wish to show the full force of my work, unless some one makes me an offer I can’t refuse?

I hope not it is hard work producing paintings like this!Yamaha_det_3_IMG_6978_d.jpg


On the subject of photography…

Speaking with a local, Great you cry, ask him! Err yess…

Not so simple.

This part of the problem is my friend is expert with photoshop which has effectively replaced  the role a darkroom used to fulfill.

I was taught at Uni, best to do the work infront of the camera not behind it.

Does this rule still stand firm?

My original training included photograph to museum qualities (yes I have City & Guilds 344 and a degree) so you can guess I know more about this than your average happy snapper.

Photographing marine paintings, any paintings, can be difficult for many reasons.

Anyone who says differently does not fully understand the issues and is in my view likely to be settling for second best or is copying paintings which copy very easily…

Some colour combinations are very difficult for cameras to copy.

This is not important for 90 % of photography.

As long as the result is pleasing it is acceptable.

This is reflected in the experience we have all had, the photo looks good but it is not as we remember the colours.

Of course usually the result is not critical, not compared with the original scene.

However in subjects such as still life (I worked on many including in advertising studios in Central London) and paintings the colour, contrast  and tonal  balance is critical, food clothing are obvious examples.

You can probably think of more examples?

Light direction, balance, colour temperature, the lens, the colours of the picture and proportions of those colours, any cast in the camera or film (most are not balanced) any back ground (which some people later crop out thinking wrongly it has had no effect); all plus other factors can and usually do affect a critical copy.

We used to test film  batches then filter to compensate, this with the full co operation of Kodak Professional Department.

This time I with my paintings was able to get quite close to the original colours having very carefully chosen my day light and the spot to photograph the paintings, a place with very bright shade, lots of reflected light and a slightly warm colour to the light.

One of the reasons I paint is because one can “do” more with colour, painting, than is possible with photography.

It is also possible to paint, anticipating how the picture will reproduce, allowing for the colour shifts so the final prints look superb.

Unfortunaely the converse is possible and we have found a number of paintings simply would not print well.

There was one exception where the colours are wildly wrong, a super yachts at dusk scene.superyachts_29.02.10_IMG_6927_wp.jpg

The result is highly miss leading when compared with the original unfinished painting.

My painting “Red Bales” is another example, http://www.frickers.co.uk/landscape/red_bales_5.html.

in that case the camera using a Kodak  100 ASA print film has failed to pick out the subtle orange colours, turning them red, or picked out the oranges at the expense of the browns and Khaki colours.

Re photographing with different film failed to solve the issue.Superyacth_eveening_06.03.10_IMG_6966_wp.jpg

While most camera and printer  manufactures publicity assure us the results  the results from their equipment will be marvelous they also when producing new equipment tell us the new is even better, why?

I could write a lot on this subject, the problems cameras and camera lenses encounter,  why cameras can’t record true colour and what the manufactures are doing about that … but now is not the time, later maybe.

Anyway I tried to discuss this with our local expert.

He absolutely insisted an accurate exposure is not important because ~ you can do everything in Photoshop!

Better, he offered to set up my monitor for a mear 100 Euros, what a nice chap.

He also assured me that I know nothing about reproducing paintings for web sites and printing;  that he does not know plus he knows heaps and heaps that I don’t know and I can buy this info from him: I’m so lucky,  wonderful!

He also assures me absolutely that he can make perfect prints from any good desktop printer, wow , brilliant so all that time and money I spent on giclee and developing Prestige prints  is now obsolete as is my printer’s life time printing and 250,000 investment in printing equipment, fabulous.

Over the years besides photographic printing, I have worked with several excellent and one bad printer including national names like De Montfort and Solomon and Whitehead so have some experience to contribute.

Or have we missed some thing here?

Slight problem… if the original exposure is “wrong” you will never have a fully processed image so how can you hope to produce a better image on photoshop?

Maybe he knows some thing I don’t?

Maybe one of us is wrong?

Maybe the truth is some where in the middle ground?

Unfortunately with a very adamant person a discussion is impossible.

So with whom can this be discussed rationally with both parties contributing their experience, maybe my excellent printer at Adaptgraphics of Plymouth also having a say?

He has after all, 45 years experience of printing.

I simply don’t see how photoshop can be more than a damage limitation exercise in this case where as close to the original image is required.

I think there is here a fundamental miss understanding of how cameras work and how accurate image reproduction can be.

I’d like to be proven wrong.

To expect to make a perfect image from a poor exposure which inevitably means  poor colour, saturation, sharpness etc.

Sure Photoshop works well when copying is not critical but surely it must work better given a “best possible” exposure.

My friend has a good eye for these issues however having seen work he accepts as perfect, I disagree and say it is at best no more accuarte than my results.

Possibly a physiological is included problem here, I remain open minded and open for further discussion.

Ideally I’d like to talk with specialists of a major camera manufacturer as their role has largely superseded that of film emulsion manufactures.

So, sweet dreams… End_of_IMG_6933_d.jpg

I’d like to discuss the copy issue  with Canon Camerashoi’s cameras I have mostly used for soem 40 years, but with whom?