Sailing into the sunset: That’s pretty much how any good day in Key West should end. I arrived early, checking in with the captain for a sailing adventure aboard the Jolly II Rover, an 80-foot schooner. Key West is home to a dozen sailing ships that cater to tourists and feature sunset sailing trips. It was my job to join 40 people on deck for the tour and make an interesting photo of the experience. The challenge of this shoot was to make a dynamic image of the sunset and to also capture the spirit of the sailing tour. I worked around the boat, visiting with the other people on tour, talking with the crew, and constantly looking for unique photo opportunities that would tell the story of sailing in Key West.
As the captain talked about firing off his cannon when “opposing ships” came close, he handed me a pair of noise canceling headphones before I got into position to make a photo. With my ears protected, I turned my camera’s continuous shooting mode on and framed my shot. I could see that the kids in the background were covering their ears, a bonus for a storytelling image. I watched the first mate carefully, since the key to catching the cannon blast was to shoot at the exact moment it went off. The flame for the cannon blast is brief, less than a second … Luck is important, timing is everything. When I saw the first mate start to fire, the moment he moved his arm, I shot my picture. I fired off five frames a second while the cannon exploded. Even with the headphones on, I jumped back. The cannon was loud. I knew what was coming, but it still startled me. Most important to the assignment: Did I get the flame?
Yes, and since the cruise was happening late in the afternoon, the flame actually shows up quite dramatically in the picture.
Image was made with a Canon 5D Mark III, a 17-35mm zoom set to 17mm, shot at 1/160th and at f/5 at ISO 400.
See more photos by Steven Martine on Instagram at @StevenMartine.