Some of you reading this are fortunate enough to have met one of Sail Caribbean’s most cherished media makers, Betsy Flournoy… whether her Batman bathing suit made you giggle in passing, or she positioned you for a Caribbean photoshoot, or maybe you simply witnessed her gallivanting through a sea of Sail Caribbean campers with a camera in tow to capture that perfect candid. We hope you’ve enjoyed the chance to be affected by this pint-sized photographer in some form or another.
With summer just a month away, we asked Betsy to give some insight into what she has learned over the years about snapping the perfect shot while in the islands. Here’s what she had to say:
WHERE MY BEGINNERS AT?
- Rule number one for photography in the Caribbean: TAKE OFF YOUR SUNGLASSES WHEN YOU’RE SHOOTING.
- Overcast days are great for photography! The clouds create a nice soft lighting effect and these are great days for portraits. The clouds can also add a bit of drama to your images. Don’t leave the camera behind just because you think the sky doesn’t show the “ideal Caribbean day” – these are the best days for capturing images of your friends!
- Early morning or late afternoon/evening are great times for some amazing lighting! The warm colors add an amazing glow to landscapes. Don’t put your camera away just because the sun just went down… right after sunset is a great time for soft lighting and beautiful portraits and landscapes.
- Most people think that with photography, the sunnier and brighter, the better. However, high sun/midday can actually be more difficult to shoot. A cloudless bright day leads to harsh raccoon-eye shadows and squinty eyes from your subjects.
- Overexposed whites can “blow out” easily – this basically means that you lose any information the camera is trying to record in that spot because there is just too much light. (This can happen especially quickly when shooting white boats in bright sunlight.) This is not to say you can’t shoot at these times, but try to be more creative with your shots. Avoid posed portraits and go for action shots – have their focus on an activity, that way you don’t have to worry as much about making them squint to look at the camera.
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- For sunrise/sunset shots, there are a few tricks of the trade to up your game.
- Try underexposing your images a little bit to get more dramatic lighting and more vivid colors.
- Try putting the horizon at different levels in the image – like the lower thirds. Don’t just put the line smack in the middle.
- Put cool stuff in the foreground – whether it is waves or silhouettes of boats or people, putting something more in the image adds depth.
- Play with your white balance to get more color – take it off auto white balance and try the “shade” preset, and then find what works for your style!
- Make sure to take a look around you and don’t get tunnel vision – reflections on the water, warm beach colors glowing, people hanging out admiring the sky – there is a lot more to a sunset than just the sun going down.
- Set your aperture to the smaller settings (f22 or above) to get the “starburst” effect with more defined rays of sunlight.
About the author: Betsy has been a Program Director, Fleet Captain, Provisions Supervisor & Manager, and Mate on the Bravo, Charlie, Sierra and Foxtrot programs. She has been working as a photographer since 2009 and graduated from the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Missoula, Montana in 2010. She also graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in Photography and Graphic Design in 2013. She currently works as the Project Director for a documentary film called RiseUP The Movie, in addition to directing the associated event, RiseUP The Summit. Outside of work, she loves sailing, climbing, mountain biking, horses, Batman, and adventuring around the world.
The greatest challenge during the program was staying entertained during the quarantine period. Not being able to leave your boat and not having a phone, which was a crutch against boredom, it was difficult at first to stay entertained.