Friday, August 19, 2011

2011 Tahoe Concours d'Elegance Photography

"Tahoe Concours d'Elegance Sunset 1" - Photograph of classic wooden boats from the 2011 Tahoe Concours d'Elegance at sunset.

Last weekend I had the great experience of getting to photograph the Tahoe Concours d'Elegance for TahoeTV and the event organizers. The Concours d'Elegance is North Americas premier classic wooden boat show put on by the Tahoe Yacht Club Foundation. I've been wanting to photograph the event since I moved to Tahoe but just never made it out. I'm sure I'll be back every year now...

I was lucky to have special access to the event, which made photos like the one above possible. The event was "closed" before sunset. You can shoot the boats from outside the event, over railing for free. But you're better off paying the entrance fee and getting up close and personal with the boats. Getting up close can provide some interesting "abstract" type shots of the beautiful craftsmanship that went into the making of the boats.

"Wooden Boat on Lake Tahoe 1" - This abstract photo of a classic wood boat was taken at the 2011 Tahoe Concours d'Elegance.
"Boat Steering Wheel 1" - This classic wooden boat steering wheel was photographed at the 2011 Tahoe Concours d'Elegance.

A tilt-shift lens is a big bonus at this event. I had a ton of fun getting shots that provided a "toy boat" look. There was also a lot going on in the background at the event so blurring it out heavily with the tilt-shift lens helped simplify the shots. Below are a couple tilt-shift shots, if you click on the images, you will see a larger version that makes it easier to see the effect.

"Toy Boats at the Concours d'Elegance 2" - Photograph of classic wooden boats from the 2011 Tahoe Concours d'Elegance. The toy boat effect was achieved using a tilt-shift lens.

"Toy Boats at the Concours d'Elegance 3" - Photograph of classic wooden boats from the 2011 Tahoe Concours d'Elegance. The toy boat effect was achieved using a tilt-shift lens.

On the third and last day of shooting, I was asked to shoot the grand finale, the Roar Off! This is where many of the boats pull out of the marina and show off their speed (and noise). They have to wait to pull out past all of the buoyed boats near the shore before they can make the boats "roar". I could tell when I scouted out a location that I was not going to be happy with the shots from the shore or a dock. So... I unloaded my kayak from my truck and braved dozens of spectator and exhibitor boats to get the shot.

I would NOT recommend shooting this part of the event from a kayak. There were plenty of smart photographers shooting from ski boats but I worked with what I had. There were many boats with lots of partying going on and I felt a little vulnerable in my easy to run over kayak. But I kept looking over my shoulders and raised my paddle if I could see a boat driver was paying more attention to the wood boats than what was around him.  Big waves were also a problem when the Roar Off boats started having fun. A dry bag is a must for your gear if you do decide to shoot the event from a kayak, I got soaked. But it was worth the risk of sinking $18k in camera gear and I got many great shots like these:

"The Hornet II on Lake Tahoe" - Photograph of the Hornet II, a classic wood and aluminum Gar Wood special racing boat from the 2011 Tahoe Concours d'Elegance.

Above are some of my favorites from the event. But I shot many many more. Please enjoy this slideshow below. Many more photos will be added to it in the upcoming days so check back. Thank you!

-Scott Thompson

All of the images above are available as fine are prints, gift items, and as stock photography. Please click on an image or view the 2011 Concours d'Elegance gallery for more info.

Any questions about the event? Please ask in the comments!