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Blue Gecko’s Best of 2010 #2

The Offshore Powerboats came to Mackay for the first time last year. My parents were up visiting us at the time. The decision to go and check out the boat racing was an easy one. I grabbed the camera bag and the old man and we drove down to Harbour Beach, Mackay to watch the last race of the Mackay round.

Once there we pretty much had the beach to ourselves. There were the usual walkers & swimmers but no large crowd. The breakwater however seemed to be overflowing with people. From my vantage point I had about 500m of the course running parallel to the beach at less than 300m away. The conditions could not been more perfect, a slight breeze that wasn’t picking up the swell too much. The sun coming from behind me and I could get right down to water level or stand further up the beach for a slightly higher vantage point.

My Canon 7D was fitted with my trusty Canon 70-300 IS ISO set to 400 ISO for that extra boost in Shutter Speed. My 70-300 is sharper at  250mm than at 300mm. This is known through many, many shots taken with this lens. With the camera set on to Aperture Priority mode I was metering with a Shutter Speed over 1/1000th second with the lens at f8. Perfect. The reason I use Av mode for this situation is simply as the light changes or if the sun went behind the clouds the camera would adjust the shutter speed faster than I could manually. With this in mind all I had to do was aim and fire. Focusing was never a problem, plenty of contrast and a distance that didn’t change. The chase helicopters were as much fun to watch as the boats themselves.

The race went for 20 Minutes. Every boat went passed at least 7-9 times and 1500 images later the race was over. This is by far the fastest I’ve ever shot that many images. Not unexpected with a camera that can shoot 8 frames per second. The Pilot Ali Al-Neama and his Throttle Man Steve Curtis won this particular race in the #96 Boat and I managed to get a shot of the boat as it went over the line with a helicopter in hot pursuit.

With the camera back in the bag and the 15 minute trip back home complete, the images were loaded, backed up and the sorting process started. Using Lightroom 3 the sorting process didn’t take long at all. I was only looking for images that stood out from the others and believe me most of them looked the same. With the top 10 picked and edited, these were loaded to Facebook and the images basically forgotten about for the next two months. That is until I received a call from Whitsunday Helicopters, Mackay.

The phone call came from one of the owners of the helicopter, the one used during the Powerboat Racing. They had been told about my images I had on Facebook by one of their friends. Whitsunday Helicopters were enquiring about the possibility of buying the image for use on their new website (link). I arranged a meeting with them and showed them some other images of the helicopters taken the same day. As it turned out the “Let’s go check out the powerboats” idea proved to be quite profitable. The events surrounding this one image has had a significant impact on me not only financially but also convinced me of the power of social media in particular Facebook as a business tool, which then in turn led me to blogging.

Happy Shooting

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