Ship Spotter Spotlight: Joana from Germany

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In 2021, we started to put the spotlight on our passionate ship spotters. Each month, we introduce another ship spotter of In April, you’ll meet Joana (User name: Joanapen), an inland skipper from Bavaria, Germany.

What is your maritime background?

My name is Joana; I‘m 60 years old and live in a small village in the Dachau district near Munich, Germany. I am an inland skipper by profession, mainly driving as a pilot on the Danube between Straubing and Vilshofen. I shoot vessels once a week. From time to time, I also go to other waters as a replacement (vacation or illness replacement) for about 14 days.

Joana at work on a barge.

What is your motivation for being a ship spotter?

I was born in Hamburg and have been fond of ships from an early age. Even as a 2-year-old, I always wanted to go to the port with my parents to see the vessels. When I was 15 years old, I got my first camera, and I’ve been photographing ships ever since. I’m the owner of an extensive private ship database, and I also work closely with the Maritime Museum in Regensburg. Some publications also contain photos of my ships for visual documentation. Furthermore, I am a super presenter in “” and also upload pictures myself.

Which technical equipment do you use for vessel photography?

Since vessel photography is only a hobby for me, I don’t have any special equipment. I prefer NIKON and currently use NIKON Coolpix B600. When the weather is bad, I use NIKON Coolpix S33 because it is waterproof. Sometimes, depending on the situation, I also take photos with my Samsung SA 20 mobile phone.

Which vessel types do you like to take photos of the most and why?

Inland vessels of all kinds. Due to my place of residence and my profession, I almost exclusively only deal with inland vessels. In inland navigation, you can better incorporate the surroundings into the ship photo, e.g., mountains, rocks, reflections of the landscape, old places as backdrops, etc.

How many pictures of different vessels have you collected since you started?

Oh dear, I can’t say that. There are also a lot of “paper photos” that I have not yet digitized. 6 – digit in any case and the number of different ships must be around 8,000.

What are your favorite ship spotting locations?

I take most of my photos from the ship. My favorite spots are the German and Austrian Danube and the Altmühltal (eastern Main-Danube Canal) and in the Middle Rhine Valley. These locations are the most scenic, in my opinion. And I know a lot of secret places in those areas where you can take good photos. If a site is suitable for ship spotting depends on the season and daytime, the lighting conditions matter. In my private life, I do photo tours by car. That means, in connection with an AIS program, I drive a route and photograph the ships at different locations in one day. The AIS program helps me to see where the vessels of my interest currently are. I’m most interested in hull transport, new navigation on the Danube, renaming of ships, or ship conversions.
I would love to go to Mississippi and Ohio one day because of the large push convoys there.

Joana relaxing in the sun.

Which is your best shot on Please tell us about the moment when you took it.

Joana’s favorite vessel photo.

That day I waited in the upper water of the Geisling / Danube lock to board the MAIRA. The Danube was as smooth as glass, and the lighting conditions were excellent. To be able to take a picture like this, I called the master of the MAIRA before the lock gate opened and told him that he should exit the lock very slowly to avoid any waves. I think he did very well. And so I created the picture just like in my imagination.