Festival of Sail – San Diego – California

Festival of Sail San Diego California Tall Ship SailingCanon 5D Mark II, 24-105mm f/4L IS USM at 58mm, f/8 for 1/125s at ISO 100


The Festival of Sail is an annual event that takes place on the San Diego Bay adjacent to Downtown during Labor Day Weekend. Numerous tall ships are both on display and are also available for people to take a ride on. These magnificent ships take you back to a time when wind power was the only way to propel your ship. I missed this event for the past two years, but thought I would share a couple of photos from 2011.

How to get this type of shot

Due to the time of day I was there, I was forced to shoot in mid-day sun, but fortunately the day had some nice clouds between the areas of blue sky so I could get photos which were not too contrasty. I used a polarizer to darken the sky and to make the white sails of the ships stand out. I brought my wide angle lens to get some interesting compositions aboard the tight confines of the ship, a standard zoom lens as well as my telephoto zoom to get closer to the action of the staged cannon battles.

For the first image I wanted to layer the image to show the docks with the cannons in the foreground and the ship in the background. The second image was a classic use of leading lines. Due to the nature of the ships sails, all lines (ropes) converge into the central mast. I felt that the peripheral lines added interest to the scene and the white sails contrasted well with the blue skies.

Festival of Sail San Diego California Tall Ship SailingCanon 5D Mark II, 24-105mm f/4L IS USM at 35mm, f/8 for 1/320s at ISO 100


Looking up at the mast of the tall ship Star of India(Coordinates: 32.720261,-117.173547)


11 thoughts on “Festival of Sail – San Diego – California

  1. gorgeous shots…the perspectives are interesting. the layering of the first one allows for a great view, could be a painting, the second is awesome, with all the lines & rigging!

  2. Great composition to make the most of the ropes as leading lines into the photo. Really love that 2nd shot.

    Since you own a polarizer, I was wondering what are your thoughts on it? How useful is it? I have been thinking of investing in one since I will be doing a fair bit of traveling. Sometimes I just don’t have much control over the time of the day when I visit a place. I figured a polarizer will help with those bright afternoon skies.

    • Vincent, a polarizer IMO is a must have filter in your bag. I shoot will a polarizer about 80% of the time or when I don’t need a fast shutter speed or shooting indoors (you lose about 1.5 to 2 stops of light). I recommend either the B+W Kaesemann or the ones I use, the Hoya HD2 line. I chose the Hoya HD2 slim because it did not vignette on my Canon 17-40mm and I can still use the stock Canon lens cap. The same cannot be said for the B+W slim. Hope this helps. If you need more information or thoughts on polarizers don’t hesitate to contact me through email.

      • Thank you for the informative reply Mark! B+W seem quite hard to come by here in Yokohama. I mostly see local brands like Kenko and Marumi here. From my research, Kenko and Hoya’s filters are supposedly the same (Hoya provides the glass to Kenko) so I’ll probably settle for Kenko’s Zeta series of CPL. Thank you again! :)

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