12 remarkable photographs of boats in black and white

by | Mar 19, 2019 | Photography

I am deeply grateful to all the photographers who answered my call in late February for black and white photographs of boats. The two-week search yielded a good harvest of talent: some 70 entries from different countries.

Choosing the best was not easy as there were many excellent shots. Some were too small to be considered. A few photographs were quite outstanding but had to be disregarded after a closer examination. By all indications, these pictures had undergone a good deal of digital alteration — to a point where the original morphed into something else which could be categorised as digital art (a legitimate art form with its own appeal). To include them in the final list would have been unfair to the photographers who did little or no post-processing, thus effectively keeping the original photograph intact. 

This is not to dismiss the use of editing software, which comes in handy when one has to convert a colour picture to monochrome or make some adjustments to the brightness or contrast. However, adding pixels not found in the original or moving them around like tiny blocks of Lego would turn the photograph into digital art.

Here are the top 12 photographs (not necessarily presented in order) — all of them noteworthy for their originality, composition and overall impact. Click on the images for a better view and enjoy!

Untitled   © Valery Vasilevskiy

Valery Vasilevskiy from Russia wows the viewer with a photograph that calls to mind a line from James Joyce‘s groundbreaking 1922 novel, Ulysses: “The sea, the snotgreen sea, the scrotumtightening sea.” The boat looks like it is being dragged down to a watery black hole. But the crew are holding fast —keeping their poise, unshaken by the fury of nature.

Sailing on Calm Waters, Costinesti – Black Sea, Romania   © Gina Bochis

From Bucharest, Romania, comes this deftly composed piece by Gina Bochis. The motion of men rowing their boat is subtly complemented by the four birds on the left flying over the water in search of food. The picture suggests life on the go at sea., but the mood is one of utter calm — an impression reinforced by the silhouette of a huge rock near the boat.

Close-hauled   © James Hesketh

The low camera angle, the waves splashing against the boat and the pattern of taut lines in James Hesketh’s photograph combine to create a sense of great energy and tension. It makes one imagine being on board the close-hauled boat as it slashes its way through the water.

Hiding out. Hopeall, NL CDN   © Paul Seymour

The beached boat in Paul Seymour’s photograph seems unperturbed by the gusty winds and roaring waves. This is a wonderful study in contrast.

 Untitled   © Rhitzter Salillas

More than just offering a picturesque scene, Rhitzter Salillas, a Filipino cadet at John B. Lacson Colleges Foundation-Bacolod (part of John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University), celebrates the sea and marine art in a photograph with local colour. The boat sails were designed and painted by young artists in Iloilo City located 465 kilometres south of Manila.

Montijo – Portugal   © Maria Giro

Maria Giro’s photograph is a visual delight with its balanced composition and clean lines. It is a tribute to the beauty of boats and the sun and sea of her native Portugal.

Untitled   © Sandra Hunjek

Sandra Hunjek’s almost minimalist photograph has a calming effect. Although sombre and somewhat melancholic, it is beautiful like a haiku.

Untitled   © Johan Hesselbach

The sea is nowhere in sight in Johan Hesselbach’s photograph, which is remarkable for its variegated, earthy textures. It is as though the boat had been appropriated by the land and become an organic part of the terrain.

Silhouette Sailing   © Teresa Gilbert.

Dark and foreboding, Teresa Gilbert’s photograph transports the viewer to a world that hovers between fantasy and reality. It is roughly divided into two sections, the upper half serving as a kind of giant theatre screen. The cloud formation conjures up images from the American fantasy drama television series, Game of Thrones. Is it a dragon or a wolf?

The Bride and the Boat   © Debora Magliaro Sanso

Passers-by were unmindful of the wedding photo shoot in progress but not Paris-based photographer Debora Sanso. She shot this scene from a distance, creating (unexpectedly perhaps) a visual narrative that plays in the mind. The bride is facing the fore of the boat as if preparing to embark on a journey to an uncertain future.

Racing Off San Diego   © Darrall Slater

Darrall Slater’s photograph conveys the adrenalin-raising thrill that is familiar to anyone who has ever participated in a regatta. It captures, sans photographic gimmickry, the boat’s graceful and majestic movement.

Sometimes they didn’t make it home, and then the tide brought them back. The Voyage of The Sunbeam, Rossbeigh, Ireland
© Enrico Carpejugleum Higginbottom

Enrico Carpejugleum Higginbottom’s poignant picture shows the remains of the 19th-century schooner Sunbeam jutting out at high tide like the skeletal ribs of some sea creature. The swirling sea water may well symbolise the passage of time as it erodes memories of the wreck. Read more about the storied Sunbeam wreck here.

~Barista Uno

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