How To Win a Race With a Freighter!


I guess I should share the story of how I got this image, I find it kinda humorous. Now that we’re approaching February, the shipping season is really slowing down. I check a few times a day to see what traffic might be on the river that I can point some glass at. It is very rare that something will be in the area late in the afternoon on a day with few clouds. These conditions provide the “look” that I’m going for in the image, and as most of my visitors know, winter in Michigan doesn’t provide many days without overcast skies. So, it’s rare that all of these things fall together. This image happened on a day where the conditions were just about perfect, so I anxiously checked the AIS several times as late afternoon approached. Boatnerd has a handy ETA tool allowing you to calculate what time a ship will be at a certain place on the river, and the Saginaw was due to be at my chosen location at roughly 4:45 pm. I hopped in my truck at around 4:30 and leisurely made my way over to where I wanted to be that day. I like to get to the spot a few minutes before the ship so that I can be ready, and get a few images of it off in the distance. I was trying out a new location that would provide the background in Canada that I want, without making my entire freighter images collection look like it was taken from the exact same spot. As I turned north onto River Road, I glanced to the South, and there was the Saginaw about a quarter mile down river.


I had mistakenly calculated the time of arrival for the Saginaw at a different location I’ve used that is a mile North of where I wanted to be that day. So, obeying all local traffic laws *wink wink* I hauled a** drove to where I wanted to park, slid into the parking lot, ran back across the street, jumped the guard rail, ran/slid/stumbled down the snow covered hill, scaled the side of the elevated boardwalk, aaaaaand I forgot my gloves in the truck…

What was supposed to be a calm adventure at the St. Clair River quickly turned into barely beating the ship to my chosen spot, and it’s not like I can ask them to stop, back up, and say cheese!

On a less cheesy, more serious note. If you’re into photography, or would like to be, this is a great example as to why you should have all the settings you think you might need already dialed into your camera before heading to your location. Before I left the house, I already had the lens I needed attached to the camera body, ISO set to 200, Aperture Priority, F8, Raw + Jpeg image capture, auto white balance and Vivid for the Jpegs, Continuous Autofocus, and Continuous High for the frame rate. This habit has saved my butt on several instances, and I surely would have missed the Saginaw that day if I had to fiddle with camera settings or change out lenses.

Hope you like the pic, thanks for visiting!

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