The Art Of The Race By Photographer Kent O. Smith Jr


gc12Thanks to fellow Woody Boater Kent O. Smith Jr for sharing these breath taking photos that are far far more than just my lame iphone stuff. This is art. Pure art! The event is an amazing event on Lake George The Lake George Gold Cup Festival was a non ACBS event and was a collective effort by a small committee of local Lake George residents including ACBS Past President Teri Hoffman and ACBS member Buzz Lamb. All the photos are 1200 PX so they blow up!


The Art of the Race
The Lake George Gold Cup Festival was held in Bolton Landing (NY) in late September. There were several days of local activities including a private tour of the Boathouse where famous racer George Reis lived and a private viewing of his infamous winning Gold Cup racer “El Lagarto” (The Lizard). But perhaps the highlight of the weekend was a recreation of the 1935 Gold Cup race with a course located like the original was in Bolton Bay but the Sagamore Hotel.


Over thirty boats were in attendance but a strong southerly breeze and large waves prevented the smaller racers from running on the course. Also, the few original vintage raceboats wisely stayed at the docks rather than risk damage pounding through the rough seas. After several heats, an informal parade concluded the event, and thankfully some of the old boats did participate.gc09

The windy weather created some dramatic scenes allowing some amazing images to be captured – The Art of the Race – from a photographic standpoint. People often say to me “your camera takes great pictures!” to which I respond “your oven bakes great cookies.” The point is the camera doesn’t take the photo, the photographer takes the photo. gc08The camera is just the tool he uses. You wouldn’t say “your chisel and band saw builds great boats”, would you? No, the boat builder makes great boats. The key is to know how to use the tool. It also helps to know your subject. I love photographing boats because I love boats. I can follow a boat through the viewfinder and anticipate how it is going to react to the wind and waves around it. Then it comes down to timing the shot and keeping an eye on the background.

gc10Having adequate gear – the proper tools – also increases the likelihood of making good images. For the photo gearheads interested, these shots were captured with a Canon 7D Mark II body and Canon 70-300L zoom lens. I shot from a 24’ pontoon boat and it was so rough on the outside of the race course that waves came over the deck! Challenging conditions, to say the least.gc04As for camera settings, I shot in shutter priority mode with a fast speed of 1/1000 to 1/2500 of a second. The camera body is capable of Auto ISO so I don’t have to worry about changing light conditions. I used single point AF in burst mode and AI Servo focus. I can shoot 10 frames per second 🙂


All images are captured in camera RAW format and post processed in Adobe Lightroom where subtle tweaks to exposure, color, contrast, sharpness and cropping can be made. In some extreme cases, I will remove a distraction in Photoshop like a post, pier, or spectator boat that is too close to a subject boat.


Don’t just take the photo, make the photo. This is how I made The Art of the Race.


19 replies
  1. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Hi Kent!

    Great Work as always. Thanks for the pointers and information. I haven’t done any serious photography in years. Seems there are more hobbies that I would like to pursue then there is time to do so.

    PS: Now that Larry has decided to sell his beautiful triple I hope you will still come back to Cobbossee for a visit.

    • Steve Sturtz
      Steve Sturtz says:


      Smashing! Way beyond my normal whoa!

      Your equipment is better than you admit, but we both know that cameras are just hammers. Everyone has one. The excellence of your work is what is in your head and the vision you see. You see wooden boats (and everything else.)

      These photographs are superb because of your hard work and vision. Congratulations!

      Now, please tell me how fast Miss Detroit was going.

  2. Bill Hammond
    Bill Hammond says:

    These were all great shots!! You forget how much art there can be in composing a photograph when you get out of the habit. I’ve been a lifelong photography nut! I went many years still doing traditional film after the advent of really good digital. I appreciated the “stats” of your pics. I still have, and do use my Exacta 35mm cameras and a wide variety of lenses including some late 70s/early 80s Autofocus lenses by Vivitar. But my favorites are mostly my Zeiss lenses.

    When my daughter took a College class on Photography in Europe she did so on a Nikon 100D. When she returned I bought her a 300D as her graduation present. A couple of years I finally purchased the same Camera and began stepping into the Digital World.
    Recently she completed the circle when she asked if she could have one of my Exacta sets! I was of course thrilled!! So I alternate between being just a spectator at Boat shows and being a photographer. There are many times when I just want to soak up the atmosphere and experience the events. But there are other times when I decide I really want to have that record. So I’m grateful that there are so many others willing to put the good time & effort in to seeing that there are great shots!!

    Thank you all!

  3. Chris B.
    Chris B. says:

    Kent those are awesome. We have similar equipment and we can not get shots like those so have to agree you take great shots. Thanks for sharing memories of a wonderful weekend. Julie is Driving Riot in that shot boys and I am holding on.

  4. Jon
    Jon says:

    Great pictures. Nice to see so many “racers” out running. Would have been nice to see pictures of some of the smaller boats that could not get out because of rough water.
    Is the event limited to Gold Cup boats or are other classes welcomed?

  5. Kent O.
    Kent O. says:

    Thank everyone for the nice comments!

    Troy – will work on Larry to hang on to the boat.

    Bill – great story, glad your daughter is interested in the hobby.

    Chris – I took 2200 photos to get a couple dozen I really liked 🙂 Had the Phantom 3 with me, but too windy to launch off the pontoon 🙁

    Jon – While it was primarily a Gold Cup themed event, we did have some runabouts there as well as a 40′ Hutchinson commuter. The more boats, the merrier!

  6. charley quimby
    charley quimby says:

    Great shots from Kent, as always. Was this meet a one-time deal? I’d like to participate with my 26′ APBA next year. Really something to look forward to… CQ

  7. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    Just fantastic, they look like postcards. They don’t call Lake George the Queen of the lakes for nothing, Looked a little breezy??? but otherwise a fabulous northern NY day

  8. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    Wow ! impressive photos…gotta be more than just the camera.
    As an aside I was on a dock at the first Race Boat regatta at Clayton trying to get a shot for the Brass Bell with a Kodak one step up from a brownie. I asked an editor of a recognized boating publication ( who shall remain nameless) standing next to me how he got such good shots?. His answer as he opened a sachel full of exposed 35 mm film, ” take enough shots and you’ll get lucky and get a good one now and then.”…But he added, the “real secret is to throw away all the bad ones and your friends will think you are a expert.” Digital was just emerging and he said that stuff will never replace film.

  9. Texx
    Texx says:

    Fantastic photos once again Mr. Smith. Every image tells a wonderful story.

    Matt mentioned a while back that these photos were coming and for me it was like being a kid waiting for Christmas morning. Today I am celebrating Christmas after receiving 11 gifts from Santa (Kent O.) Claus via Woody Boater. – Texx

  10. Kent O.
    Kent O. says:

    Stan, Floyd and Bob – thank you!

    Wilson – great story and so true. Much easier to do with digital 🙂

    Texx – Thank you and Merry Christmas 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed them!

  11. Kent O.
    Kent O. says:

    Alex – Thank you!

    Steve S – thanks for the kind words! Unfortunately, Miss Detroit was lumbering along at a slow pace in the shot, just too rough for her. But the sound of the Curtiss V12 is awesome!

  12. Dick Dow
    Dick Dow says:

    Wonderful shots! Too bad it was rough enough that some couldn’t go out and run at speed, but still, the wave action creates some great drama. Re: the comment of editing distractions out, I suspect the bow thruster on the Baby Gar was not original… 😉

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