For some time I had planned this shot in my head.  My goal was to use the Canon 8-15mm fisheye zoom at 8mm on a full frame camera and shoot from high up the mast during my upcoming TuiTai photography expedition.  This would give me a ”globe perspective” of the boat in its lovely setting amongst the Fiji Islands.  I knew the exact look I wanted to create – but as always there were just a few logistical challenges along the way.

Initially I was hoisted up the mast with my camera to get the shot.  However due to the 8mm lens’ incredibly wide perspective it was impossible to show the complete boat without the boat’s mast obstructing my view.  And because of that exaggerated perspective, the mast was filling half my frame!

I then tried walking out on the spreaders – this was better but made the image slightly off centre which I hadn’t wanted.  And I still had my feet in the frame.  I tried first swinging my feet up, and then hanging upside down – neither worked but provided great amusement for everyone below as I kept swinging back into the mast like a drunk aerialist.

Time to rethink and come up with plan B.  The next day we were anchored off Rabi Island in a stunning location surrounded by deep blue waters.

This time I decided to rig up a hanging 3 point system for my Canon 1Ds mk3 and 8-15mm fisheye zoom lens and send them up on their own.  This consisted of heavy duty zip ties through the strap loops and a third one to my Manfrotto base plate. With some adjusting I could get the camera to hang perfectly balanced while pointing directly downward.

I had attached my Hahnel Giga T Pro receiver to the camera to allow me to fire the shutter via remote from the lower decks.  The camera setup was then attached to a V setup formed by a line coming down from each of the two masts.  The plan was to hoist the camera up until it was in the perfect position, and then fire the shot from below.

We began to hoist the camera and had it over half way up in a stiff breeze when one of the Fijian crew members called out urgently for us to “Stop, go no higher”!!  I wasn’t quite sure what he meant as my intention was to pull the camera all the way to the top!  But of course there was one element I hadn’t considered, which he quickly explained.  Once the camera rig got past a certain point it wasn’t heavy enough to enable us to lower it back down again…  The bad news was we were already past that point!

Lucky for me, one of the very fit Fijian boys showed off his climbing skills by shimmying bare foot up a diagonal cable to haul the camera back down before I could even say ”travel insurance”.  A bit embarrassing considering I had been scared witless when up the mast yesterday in a full 5 point harness!

On to Plan C!  I attached several dive weights to the lines on either side of my camera rig to give it more weight, and also attached some strong fishing line which we could use to retrieve the rig once I had the shot.

The rig was at last hoisted all the way to the top and I created a great series of images by triggering the camera with my Hahnel remote.  I really liked this one with the tender boat leaving for a dive, creating a fantastic ‘fish hook’ shaped wake in the ocean beside the boat.

The end result was exactly as planned – the process – well, not quite so.

As published in D-Photo Magazine May 2012.

View the complete PDF here.

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