Photo of the Month: MOD70

Chris Schmid, the photographer behind June's Photo of the Month, shares his experience shooting the Route des Princes in Valencia.
MOD70 Spindrift

MOD70 Spindrift

Chris Schmid

Tell us about this shot.
This shot was taken in Valencia, Spain, during the first leg of the Route des Princes 2013. I was covering the event for the MOD70 Spindrift racing. The conditions on the water were really nice with a sea breeze of around 15 knots, and it was end of the day, so the light was beautiful.

We lined up with the RIB to get the MOD70 coming toward us so we could see the full power of these impressive multihull boats. The MOD70 passed in a powerful gust, and all the water was splashing around the hulls. That was just perfect for a nice shot. It gives the impression that the MOD70 is gonna destroy everything in its way!

What are your favorite shooting conditions?
It’s quite difficult to describe the perfect shooting conditions. In sailing the conditions change all the time so you must be ready with some fresh ideas whatever the conditions are. Sometimes you can get really nice pictures with a very light wind, playing with an underwater housing for example. You can get also impressive shots by a gray day making the shot quite dramatic. For sure it’s easier to have fabulous shots during a windy, wavy day, but these conditions will be present for only around 25% of your shootings. That’s the way it is in sailing photography. Every day it’s different, and it’s the magic of this sport.


How do you protect your gear from all of the elements?
I use a Pelicase to protect my gear on the RIB, so it won’t get wet when the RIB passes the waves. I don’t use any protection for my cameras or lenses, but I give them a complete cleaning every 6 months to take off salt. Everyday after the shooting, I clean my stuff with a towel imbibed of fresh water and pass over the cameras and lenses.

What sort of editing do you do?
For my editing I use Adobe Lightroom. I add more contrast to the images and also play with the saturation/desaturation. I love to give some impact to my photography, and today with digital photography you can play a lot with the digital tools. I love to play with the sky for example, especially during cloudy days. But it’s important to know that if you don’t have any good shots straight from your camera, you won’t have any fabulous shots after even with all the editing software available today. For good photography, I’ll say that 95% comes from your point of view during the shooting, and 5% will come from your editing and your artistic approach.

What camera do you use?
I have three cameras, so for each of them I keep a different lens fixed on it. I use a Nikon D4, Nikon D3s, and Nikon D800, and attached on them a Nikon 500mm 4.0, a Nikon 300mm 2.8, and a Nikon zoom 70-200mm 2.8. It’s a bit heavy, but with this stuff you can be ready for almost all the situations on the water. Then for onboard photography, I love to use the Nikon 35mm 1.4 with the 70-200mm. I also play sometimes with the GoPro, a fabulous tool to play around with!


How did you get started in photography? What did you do for work before you became a photographer?
I’ve been a swimmer during a long period of my life, swimming at an international level, and I’ve been always a big fan of water sports, loving the water environment. At the beginning of 2005, I started to study to become an airline pilot, but I needed some money to cover the cost of the formation. I started working for Apple Inc., and I was doing some photography next to it for my swimming club. So I was able to merge my passion and my sport together and start to take photos of swimming competitions. Some years later one of my images was selected as the commended image at the Sony World Photography Awards 2008. I definitely wanted to continue in photography as my job, and I started to shoot the D35 on the Geneva lake for Alinghi and Ladycat.

What’s the coolest place sailing and photography has taken you?
The coolest place was my home, Geneva, during the Bol d’Or 2012. We did a helicopter flight for the start of the race, and the panorama was just unbelievable with the Mont Blanc and the Alps in the background and the boats in the foreground. Sometimes you don’t need to go far away from your home to get the coolest shots. It’s a great memory!

What do you do in your free time?
I love to go walking, swimming, and enjoying the countryside taking photographs of different things. I also love to enjoy my time with my wife. Being far away from home quite a lot, I need to give her attention when I’m at home. And I love to read about new technology. I think today it’s very important to stay up to date and be able to use the latest tools.


Ed.’s note: This interview was conducted prior to Spindrift’s capsize on June 22. Click here to read about and watch video of the capsize.

Click here to view more of Chris Schmid’s photos from the Route des Princes.
Read about previous Photos of the Month.
Click here to see Chris Schmid’s website.