How I Got That Shot

Photography By Tor Johnson

Photo of yachts sailing off Bora Bora

Charter yachts sail through the lagoon of Raiatea and Tahaa toward Bora Bora during the Tahiti Pearl Regatta. I was halfway up the mast of a cat when I got lucky and caught the boats' shadows on the sandy bottom.

Photo of surfer and sea turtle

Surfer and green sea turtle dive under a wave at Rocky Point, Oahu, Hawaii. The turtle is lit with a dive flash attached to the surf water camera housing.

Photo of a rowboat with planter

I happened to see this couple in British Columbia and snapped the photo as we sailed by. What a great lifestyle.

Photo of photographer self portrait while sailing at night

Self-portrait of a night watch while sailing from Hawaii to Samoa on a full moon. The red light is provided by the compass as well as a camera flash with a red filter attached.

Photo of dad and son sailing

I used a low angle, and included the sun in the shot to give this dad and his son a warm glow.

Photo of sailing across the ocean

On an ocean crossing, I used an off camera flash with a radio trigger to augment the portside running light, to freeze the subject, and cast a shadow on the sail.

Photo of waterfalls in Toba Inlet

One of many impressive waterfalls in Toba Inlet, British Columbia. I jumped in a dinghy and shot from a distance to capture the scale of the scene. Waioli is a Dutch steel motor yacht by Linssen.

Photo of moonlight over Waikiki in Hawaii

Full moon over Waikiki. This is a longer exposure, so in order to keep the foreground (boat/people) sharp, I used a tripod on the foredeck.

Photo of diver holding onto anchor chain

Shot with an underwater camera housing, this image required that I dive down and hang onto the anchor chain while waiting for the diver to swim out of the light toward me.  

Tor Johnson is a Hawaii-based photographer and writer, specializing in sailing, ocean lifestyle, and destination imagery with an emphasis on Hawaii. Tor began sailing the world with his family when he was 7 years old. At the ripe old age of 17, Tor sailed to Japan. He later learned Japanese at the University of California in Santa Cruz, and received a graduate degree in Asian Studies at the University of Hawaii. Tor now lives in Hawaii, where he photographs "everything," works on his stock image collection, and accepts interesting assignments. Visit his website to see more of his great images.

— Published: April/May 2014

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