In 2021, we started to put the spotlight on our passionate ship spotters. Each month, we showcase a different photographer of FleetMon.com. In November, you’ll meet a maritime enthusiast from Greece (User name: Nikos-Palamaris).
What is your maritime background?
My name is Nikos Palamaris. I wouldn’t say I have a maritime background. Born in 1950, I spent my early years in Athens. Greece. My godfather was a chief engineer in the commercial navy and I remember me helping his wife, my aunt, to pin little colorful pins on a big paper world map every time she received a letter from a different port, pinpointing his overseas visiting ports. When he was coming home, I kept asking him over and over again for details from the ports he had visited worldwide.
When did you start to take photos of vessels?
I spent all my professional career as a textile engineer, away from the sea. All my life I was a keen amateur photographer with my own permanent darkroom developing and printing hundreds of Black and White films of people and landscapes.
After my retirement, I bought a country house in Lavrio, 60 kilometers from Athens. The house is only 40 meters from the seafront. I developed an interest in watching the different vessels crisscrossing the area in front of me. Sometimes I used to take a picture of an interesting vessel. I then used to go to the Lavrio Port to see that special ship from close range. That was it. My ship spotting hobby was born.
What is your motivation for being a ship spotter?
There are cases I see the same rented sailing vessel, week after week, sailing on Saturday morning for her weekly round trip. Every time with a different crew. Every time different people of different mentality and attitude towards life. Eight to ten persons have to coexist in a confined space for a week. How are they going to come back after a week? Will their friendship ties be intact? I wish I would be there, to capture digitally their posture, their positions on the deck, to watch real-life through my lens.
How often are you on tour to shoot vessels?
I go to shoot vessels several times a month.
Which technical equipment do you use for vessel photography?
I mainly use a Nikon D5300 with a Nikkor zoom 70-300 and a Nikon D40 with a Nikkor zoom 70-200, always with Polarizing filters to cut through haze, plus a Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ82. I also always carry with me a tiny SONY DSC-W350 for that candid shot in the Port.
Which vessel types do you like to take photos of the most and why?
I have come to appreciate the beauty of the design of small sailing vessels, the shapes, the rigging, the elegance of the presence of optical form versus practicality. As for the big ships passing by, it is interesting to compare the current condition of the ship by seeing photos from fellow ship spotters of the past, reading through her history of name changes, color changes and owners.
How many pictures of different vessels have you collected since you started?
Since I started shooting vessels, I think I probably have a stock of 4000 to 5000 photos, not all of them suitable for uploading.
Where is your favorite ship spotting location so far?
My favorite spot for shooting is my country house at Lavrio. You have the Makronisos Island as a background, the photos borrow extra sparkle because of the rough Greek island backdrop, and the orientation of the sun half of the day is superb to obtain brilliant colors.
And most of all, I shoot at my own leisure; ice drinks at hand, waiting for the ships to pass. It is like having a house overlooking Kiel Kanal! As a general motto, I always say to myself: Never leave the shooting for later. In the world of ships you never really know when her captain will push the lever of the engine order telegraph to SLOW AHEAD. If you see a ship at anchor or passing by, shoot it and hope for a better photo later.
Which worldwide ship spotting location would you like to visit if you had the chance to?
A location I would like to have the chance to go and shoot is the Mubarak Peace Bridge over the Suez Canal. All day long, with minutes from each other, you have the world of maritime traffic under your lens.
Which is your best shot on FleetMon.com? Please tell us about the moment when you took it.
I drove 240 km in one day to return and photograph this ship in Lavrio Port, before she was gone. It was the first vessel of her kind to see in my life, one of the very first using this kind of new technology. The E Ship 1 is a Flettner ship: Four large rotor sails that rise from its deck are rotated via a mechanical linkage to the ship’s propellers. The rotor sails, or as they are otherwise called Flettner rotors, aid the ship’s propulsion during the journey by means of the Magnus effect – the perpendicular force that is exerted on a spinning body moving through a fluid stream. I would really like to see this vessel in the open sea using this technology.