What did you do in order to get nice shots (or to increase the probability of doing so) while on a whalewatch?
This will be my first opportunity to try mine on the high seas being a fairly new acquisition and the season is just a couple of weeks old.
Would you care to share any advice in order to improve my chances of nailing some great captures? What should I do doing and how should (what shutter speeds/etc.) the camera be set-up for flukes, breeches, bubble-feeding and taking shots of the harbor/coastline while out to sea/on the move?
Hope there's something to capture this time around as the last one I went on had none!
Prior trips included taking a video cam which will be left behind for obvious reasons.
You are shooting a moving target from a moving platform. You will want a higher shutter speed to freeze the action. Depending on the motion from the boat, setting your VR to "active" might be needed (if the lens has VR).
---------+---------+---------+---------+---------+ Joseph K Seattle, WA, USA
We saw grey whales and humpbacks, from a respectful distance. I took all shots at or near the long end of my 50-500mm zoom (on a D800E). The whales came to the surface for breathing perhaps once per minute, for a few seconds at a time. The tricky thing is to have your camera pointing at the right direction at the right time to capture the puff. After that, you'll have about two seconds to capture the back, and sometimes the tail. Based on my extremely limited experience, if you try to get exactly frame-filling shots you may end up with none because the whaling boat may not stay near the whales for more than 30 minutes, and you may have 20-30 attempts to get the puff. Zoom a little wide and crop at home. This will increase your chances of getting keepers. The platform is wobbly so the shutter speed should be 1/1000s or faster.
Tue 21-May-13 06:16 PM | edited Wed 22-May-13 01:29 AM by GiantTristan
I took a whale watch excursion off the Acadia Peninsula, Maine, several years back. During the trip the sky was overcast and the sea was fairly rough I selected my D200 over the D700 because of the longer reach of the DX camera. I used exclusively my 70-200/2.8 VR1 with the VR set at "active". I kept the aperture at f/5.6 and never let the shutter speed drop below 1/320s, but the sharpest captures I got at 1/500s or faster. Most pictures were taken at focal lengths of 100-200mm. I used CF high with release priority. Only removed lens cap to take some shots to minimize salt spray.
I selected a spot at the bow of boat to get a good angle of view. On a sunny day, do not forget a CPL filter.
I shot whales a years ago off Maui. Generally, the boats keep a good distance from the whales — over a hundred yards — unless a whale gets curious and approaches the boat. Don't count on that.
I shot with a 70-200 with the TC20-III on a D3s. I cranked up the ISO to get a minimum shutter speed of 1/2000 to freeze whale and water motion. And don't forget the bounding boat! Aperture as f/5.6, effectively wide open with the TC; stopping down to f/8 might have been useful. My ISO was 3200 on an overcast day.
The problem is reach. Even at 400mm, these are big crops. Real big crops. WIth your 300, you'll be cropping a bit more. Shoot lots, and don't waste time chimping if the whales are up. Capture lots of frames, and with careful post work, you can get some interesting images.
And maybe a whale will get curious…
Jon Kandel A New York City Nikonian and Team Member Please visit my website and critique the images!
While I've never done anything like that, it does sound like the time you want to use high speed continuous release mode. If you see something about to happen that will only last a second or two, rather than trying to capture a single great shot, point the camera, sit on the shutter button in continuous release mode, and capture the whole event start to finish. That way you stand a much improved chance that one of those images will great. You may well throw away 99%, but who cares. In simpler terms, just approach it like you are shooting video.
Thu 23-May-13 01:40 AM | edited Thu 23-May-13 01:43 AM by K64drb
I have two 32G SanDisk Extreme Pro cards, and they will handle will handle whatever the D800 puts through to them. I shoot everything in RAW, so this is the most demanding on shoving individual files through the pipeline and at some point, the frames per second will slow down, but that takes a while to get to that point, although I've never measured it. But as I understand it, when this happens it is the camera's own memory buffer maxing out, not because the cards can't handle it, but the camera itself can only process so much data over a long period.
If I were you, before going on this very special photo op, I would invest in some cards that meet or exceed your D800's capability. I know they are relatively expensive, but you have invested a whole lot in the D800, and now is not the time to skimp on something that could create a weak link in letting the camera deliver it's full potential for you.
And when you are shooting in this mode, if you have both a CF and SD card, all else being equal between them, the CF card can be written to a little more quickly than the SD. I'm not sure, but I think the CF card has some level of built in processor that expedites things to a degree. That's why it's bigger and a little more expensive.
You already own the best camera there is - get the best cards for it. Take care of your D800, and your D800 will take care of you!!
went to cabo in feb and all others went out on whale watching boat and did not see any. next day we went on a dinner cruise and two whales came to visit and stayed within touching range of boat for 45 minutes. got a great shot of someone on another boat taking photo of whale jumping (looks like into boat).
just luck. (and a good camera with acceptable lens available)
Timing and location are obviously critical to successful whale photos. Almost every year, Jim Cline offers the Baja Gray Whales Photo Tour. If should have any interest in this journey, I suggest that you refer to JimClinephototours.com for further information.
I've been to Maui numerous times over the years and have gotten some really great shots and a lot of not-so-great shots. Remember you're at the mercy of the whale(s). A lot depends on the boat captain and if he/she willing to break away from one pod to go look at another, more active pod. I started out using the regular program mode of my D300 and using ISO640. The last several years Shutter priority has been my choice with a setting of at least 1/500th and ISO640. Most of my good ones have been using this setup. Haven't had a chance with my new D800, however, but I know I would start out with a tried and true setting then work from there. Here's one from last year.