In 2021, we started to put the spotlight on our passionate ship spotters. Each month, we showcase a different photographer of FleetMon.com. In December, you’ll meet a maritime enthusiast from Canada (User name: KevinBaird) who has been with us almost from the start of the platform.
What is your maritime background?
I’m 69 years old and retired. My working life consisted of 25 years owning and operating a small chain of retail clothing stores, and preceding that a 15-year stint as a manager with The St Lawrence Seaway Authority, the Canadian crown corporation that operates the locks along the St Lawrence River and at the Welland Canal bypassing Niagara Falls between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. It was my time at the Seaway which stimulated and magnified my existing love for ships and things marine. Fifteen years ago, this love was given a significant boost when I purchased a residence on the St. Lawrence at Glen Walter, Ontario, 60 km west of Montreal. Seaway vessel traffic now sails 150 meters from my front window. Ships in all of their variety, colors, and detail now pass by me, upbound and downbound, 24/7 for the duration of the April through December navigation system.
When did you start to take photos of vessels?
I’ve taken vessel pictures since I was a teenager, whenever the opportunity presented itself.
What is your motivation for being a ship spotter?
Seeing new vessels. Seaway traffic is limited to vessels with a maximum length of 730 feet and a beam of 75′. The regulars are always a pleasure to see, but it’s the new visitors that provide a recharge to my interest.
How often are you on tour to shoot vessels?
Given where I live, going on tour doesn’t have to be a focus. Ship spotting becomes an add-on to my regular traveling; Tampa in Florida, and the ports of Western Europe when I’m there.
Which technical equipment do you use for vessel photography?
I mostly shoot with my trusted Canon Rebel T1i using an 18-55 mm or a 55-250mm lens.
Which vessel types do you like to take photos of the most and why?
I’m an amateur military historian, so Canadian and U.S naval and coast guard vessels hold particular interest. Tall ships arriving and departing inland gatherings are also a treat to see.
How many pictures of different vessels have you collected since you started?
I probably have a stock of around 1500 to 2000 photos.
Where is your favorite ship spotting location so far?
Right off my dock, 150 meters from the channel, generally an hour or so before dusk, on a clear Fall day.
Which worldwide ship spotting location would you like to visit if you had the chance to?
Any one of the larger naval bases. Unfortunately, it’s probably a pipe dream. I tried to approach the U.S Coast Guard Station at Key West, Florida by boat a couple of years ago, but the klaxons started to blare and they chased me off!
Which is your best shot on FleetMon.com? Please tell us about the moment when you took it.
The ice breaker Martha L Black readying the channel for navigation in March of 2015 is one of my favorite shots. Opening of navigation is a firm sign of Spring in Eastern Canada and ships like the Martha Black make it happen. The day was perfect for this shot, and the bits of ice and spray framing the hull give extra life to the photo.