Brentwood College Rowing Regatta photo shoot

Rowing Oars, Brentwood College Rowing Regatta 2009, Mill Bay, Vancouver Island

Rowing Oars, Brentwood College Rowing Regatta 2009, Mill Bay, Vancouver Island

Brentwood Regatta 2009 Photos 

I just spent 2 days photographing the Brentwood College Rowing Regatta in Mill Bay. This regatta is a photography feast with non-stop action for almost 3 days in a beautiful part of the Cowichan Valley. Over 1,500 athletes and coaches from over 35 rowing clubs take part in the regatta. Most are from Canada and the United States but this year also had a team from Bermuda for the first time. Good for them. I don’t think the Bermuda team did particularly well but I was chatting with one of the Bermuda rowers earlier today and she was in heaven wishing she could “just stay a little longer and practice”. See you next year!

From a photography standpoint, I attempted to shoot images that are more interesting than your typical rowing photo. You know the ones! I shot many of them as well. While i came away from the event with many photos that I’m very pleased with I did find it difficult to get in close which is what I really wanted to do.

The pace of races was so frantic that you couldn’t shoot easily from the main docks at Brentwood College School as they were a madhouse of rowers, trainers and boats coming and going every 1 to 2 minutes. Apparently the top time earlier today for an 8 person shell to clear the docks after a race; all 8 athletes plus the coxswain leave the boat and put on their shoes, hoist the boat and clear the dock…. 49 seconds, not bad! A few seconds later another boat is arriving to take its place. Very hectic but made for some good images.

Clearing the Dock, Brentwood College Rowing Regatta 2009, Mill Bay, Vancouver Island

Clearing the Dock, Brentwood College Rowing Regatta 2009, Mill Bay, Vancouver Island
















Shooting from the starting platform vas very pleasant as it is a huge dock with boat access only meaning that there aren’t too many people getting in the way. The folks out there were primarily regatta officials, the odd photographer and Coast Guard folks. This made for plenty of space to work in a relaxed atmosphere. I must have spent half my time on the dock lying down to get low angle images. Needless to say I’m very stiff this afternoon.

Brentwood College Rowing Regatta 2009, Mill Bay, Vancouver Island

Brentwood College Rowing Regatta 2009, Mill Bay, Vancouver Island













From a technical side, I used a huge range of lenses from my Nikon 10.5mm fisheye to a 300mm. The fisheye gave me some of my favourite images from the starting dock where I could position my camera just over the stern of the rowing shells and blast off about 8 exposures when the race first started. One of these images is above. As is usually the case my most used lens was the 17-55mm. I’ll post more images later in a gallery as it will take me some time to get through the 1,650 images that I shot. And finally, thanks to all the generous people that ferried me around by boat for the 2 days, without you this likely wouldn’t have happened.

Brentwood Regatta 2009, Mill Bay, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island

Brentwood Regatta 2009, Mill Bay, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island

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8 Responses to “Brentwood College Rowing Regatta photo shoot”

  1. LisaNewton says:

    Great shots. I’m looking forward to seeing the shots you took from inside the boats……………..:)

  2. Kevin Johnston says:

    Great photos! I was one of the support parents with Greenlake Crew from Seattle.
    Great event! Great venue!
    I hope you will post more. I was so taken with the constant stream of boats parading down to the dock, like a giant snake! I tried to capture but very much the amateur and I was too far away with just a point & shoot camera.

  3. kevin says:

    Hi Lisa,

    You had exactly the same thought I did, need to get myself or a camera inside a boat. I have had a number of ideas like this recently with attaching cameras to the wings of ultralights and on the bows of kayaks or rowing shells going through my mind. I started looking around at remote triggering systems that might make it possible. Keeping the cameras from getting destroyed might be an issue as well…

    Something to look forward to trying.

  4. kevin says:

    Hi Kevin,

    That was an excellent event and a great venue. I was very impressed with how smoothly the whole program ran and everyone was having such a great time. The Green Lake folks were very supportive of my shooting allowing me to do some photography from the water yesterday.

    I’m hoping to have a gallery of images up later today although the full body of images will likely take longer. I’ll post the link here when they are up.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  5. Melissa Grimaldi says:

    Hi Kevin,

    Terrific shots! Sammamish Rowing are the oars in this image cited above. Great action. Wondering if we could use this promotionally for our capital campaign or auction marketing materials? Its hard to get brentwood due to pace as you know and lighting. Please let me know. If yes, I just need a hi res for our printing purposes. Thank you for your consideration.

  6. kevin says:

    Hi Melissa,

    Send me an email when you have a chance.


  7. Brian Carr says:


    I am the Head of Rowing at Brentwood and this is the first time I have seen this site. Fantastic. I was the guy at the start line ushering in all the crews to the start gates. I see that you want to get a camera into a racing shell. If you want to come down to the school for a practice and come out in the boat and do some experimenting, please give me a shout and we can see what we can do for you. Again, thank you for being a part of our regatta and we look forward to seeing you soon.

    kevin Reply:

    Hi Brian,

    I’ll get in touch as it would be quite exciting to try some different camera angles. Will send you an email.

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