Photographing Whales Pt. 2

In Photographing Whales Pt1 we went on a recce to see how to go about photographing them. How far away would they be? What focal lengths would I be likely to use? How fast do they move? Are they shy? and more... So I'd know what to expect and be prepared for the main feature presentation which would happen in the evening when the light was at it's best for this kind of photo shoot.

As the sun sank lower in the sky I was quite nervous about the photos I'd get. I don't get opportunities like this every day after all. 

One of the main things a photographer has to manage when the opportunity is huge and the time limited is to manage their expectations. Of course I'd dreamed of shooting an amazing sunset image of a whale leaping clear of the water, droplets sparkling, white foam and the red evening sunshine sunshine bathing its body.

Remember the photographers who specialise in this kind of shoot often spend days waiting for all those elements to come together and are probably lucky to get the image they want in the bag. Patience, expertise and knowledge about the creature they're photographing are the key. And the only knowledge I had was what we obtained that afternoon as you saw in part 1.

As a photographer light levels were an issue because as we went from afternoon to evening there was considerably less of it to play with. So I had to keep checking my shutter speed to avoid camera shake and adjusting my exposure settings to compensate for the changes as they happened.

And all the while you have to keep your mind on the job and concentrate if you want those amazing images you hope for. If you get lost in chatting with someone about the experience you'll miss the shot. If you're lucky enough to have a boat all to yourself use your brilliant brain (which I consider the foundation of all photography regardless of what kit you have) and think about the direction of the light and position yourself accordingly, how far away from the whales you need to be to get the shot you want, what's in the background and would it look better if you change your viewpoint a bit?

It's a tall order but I loved every moment and despite not getting the 'Whale Breaching at Sunset' shot I hoped for I'm delighted with what I did capture - and would not have missed the experience for the world.

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