Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Bokeh)

Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), published in 1889, is a humorous novel by English writer Jerome K. Jerome, about three friends embarking on a boat ride on the Thames from Kingston to Oxford. The book is known as one of the funniest in the history of English literature.

Three Men in a Boat Siemens TI
Click on picture to enlarge

In 2015, The Guardian ranked it No. 25 of The 100 Greatest Novels of All Time, and in 2009, Esquire ranked it No. 2 of the 50 Funniest Books Ever. The story inspired the 1961 German movie “Drei Männer in einem Boot” with Heinz Erhardt, Hans-Joachim Kulenkampff, Walter Giller, Willy Reichert and others.

On Sunday, September 27th, 2020, we adapted Jerome K. Jerome’s story in following ways:

First Adaptation: The Boat. Instead of using a Thames skiff boat on the River Thames, we sailed a 100-year-old wooden sail boat on Lake Ammersee southwest of Munich, Germany. The Rambeck shipyard in Starnberg had originally delivered the 10.5-meter National Cruiser, with a 45-square-meter sail and mahogany freeboard, to Berlin under the number P57 in 1920. The P57, nowadays called “Altschwabing”, is beautiful and fast. 

Altschwabing 100 years 45er Three men in a boat Siemens TI
Click on the photo for more information about the 100-year-old wooden sailboat “Altschwabing” (German language only)

Second Adaptation: The Crew. We replaced George, Harris and Jerome from the original book with Marco, Klaus-Jürgen and Chris, three former colleagues of Siemens TI (Technology and Innovations).

Three Men on a Boat Siemens TI 3 former colleagues
The new crew: Marco, Klaus-Jürgen and Chris (left to right), click on photo to enlarge

Third Adaptation: The Dog. Having only a camera at hand, we replaced the dog with Bokeh, which does not bark but does nicely render areas that are out-of-focus in photography. To achieve a maximum of beautiful, creamy bokeh, we used the following equipment:

  1. The full frame camera Sony A7ii: used as a full frame sensor, it provides a smaller depth of field (DOF) than smaller sensors like APS-C or Micro Four Thirds.
  2. Two lenses that are known for both a beautiful, creamy bokeh and sharpness: The “heavyweight glass and steel” Viltrox 85mm f1.8 lens and the probably most-sold lens for digital single-lens reflex cameras in the world, the Canon EF 50mm f1.8 STM. The Canon EF lens was adapted to the Sony a7ii by a Comlite EF to e-mount Adapter. 
  3. Neutral Density Filters (also called ND or grey filters) to avoid overexposure; otherwise the bright light of the sunny day would prevent the usage of an open aperture to maximize the bokeh effect.  

Note: All photos were taken using manual focus only (no auto focus). Focus peaking helped to separate a sharp object in front of a beautiful, creamy bokeh.

Some photos of this wonderful sail with Three Men in a Boat (To say nothing of the Bokeh)

Sleeping Beauty Altschwabing

Only a few days after the boat trip, the swift beauty Altschwabing gets her deserved hibernation after overtaking so many plastic sailboats (also named yoghurt cups) this summer.

Siemens TI Boat Altschwabing
The 100-year-old wooden sailboat Altschwabing from 1920 takes a rest for the winter

BBC’s TV series “Three Men in a Boat” from 2006 and 2011

Besides the 1889 novel, Three Men in a Boat has been made into a funny television comedy / documentary series by BBC starring comedians Dara Ó BriainRory McGrath and Griff Rhys Jones, first aired in 2006. In this first episode, the three participants rowed in a replica wooden skiff from Kingston upon Thames to Oxford. The documentary also shows the history of boat trips on the upper Thames, including how the locks on the Thames river could get quite overcrowded one year after the popular book Three Men in a Boat was published and printed in high numbers.

In fond memories of

Siemens TI

(Technology & Innovations)

2 Replies to “Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Bokeh)”

  1. Super Bilder! Von der Altschwabing gibt’s schon gute Fotos, aber hier sind noch einige dazu gekommen. Danke Chris

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