Offshore Series: Transiting through the Panama Canal


Working in the offshore industry means getting to live on a lot of different boats. After getting to a vessel, I usually try to take some time to photograph it and use this blog to showcase my work surroundings (see posts from The Viking, Bjorkhaug, Western Neptune). For some reason I had not been inspired to photograph the current boat I am on (Western Pride) and cannot really describe why because it has been one of my favorites so far. Hopefully this post serves as a bit of redemption. The project that the Pride is currently working on involves conducting a seismic survey off both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Colombia. We finished up the Caribbean survey on December 05 and spent the next week in transit to the next prospect. This meant we had to cross through the Panama Canal which was exciting to everyone because A) not many people get to experience this and B) we got to look at something other than never-ending ocean.

Entrance to the first "lock"

At first I was bummed out that we were transiting through at night, but I like the darkness of the resultant photos. It helped that the Canal and its surroundings are heavily lit, however the color cast from sodium-vapor lighting made it impossible to process anything in color. This lighting is especially unflattering on skin tones even after white balancing RAW files. A whole lot of my work lately has been processed with clipped blacks (ie. the darkest areas in the photo are actually grey), but that did not really work here and it was refreshing to use the whole spectrum in this series. Most of the photos here were taken with the OM Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 and a generic focal reducer (reviewed here), but the last three were taken with the MZD 45mm f/1.8.


The history of the Canal is amazing and although I haven't read much about it myself, the boat was stirring with factoids for weeks prior to making the commute. History was never a subject that I was any good at so I will spare you, but the important thing is that this structure serves as sort of a foundation for Panama as a country. Also, the physics involved here are amazing and way out my scope of comprehension (I hated that subject more than History). I do know that the small cars in the photo below were attached to four points on the vessel (two on either side) to ensure it was stabilized. Then the vessel went through a series of "locks" and for half the trip we were travelling uphill and after transiting through a lake, we traveled downhill. My favorite part of this experience was of course capturing candid photos of the other members of the crew. I hope you enjoy the rest of the photos here and that they give some insight into this awesome landmark. 

Sodium Vapor





Disregarding Sea Level

"DE" not "OF"


Point and Shoot

Offshore bokeh

Holding Everything Together

The Bridge