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Whale photography tips

July 15, 2018

Whale photography tips

Once hunted to the brink of extinction, whales are returning in record numbers. Annual migrations draw visitors from around the world to observe different species such as the Humpback and Southern right whales along Australia’s coastline.

For those with a camera, here are a few tips to get a great image:

1- A water vessel is better than on the land. A vessel can follow the whales as they leisurely swim, stop and observe us.

2- Use a polariser filter


3- Use Autofocus

4- Watch your exposure settings – they can move very fast when breaching so you need to know your shutter speed is high enough to freeze the action. I usually try and keep mine around the 800th-1000th. ISO depends on the conditions of the day, but I usually start with 400 ISO.

Which lens – it depends.
Long is great if they are a bit further away but being curious animals they may come close and then you will need very wide as per the image below shot on 17mm.
I generally use a combination from 17mm to 500mm though humpback whales are naturally inquisitive creatures and often come close to boats where a wide-angle lens is best.


6 – Lighting
An overcast day is not what you ideally want. The colour of the water will be the same as the sky. If photographing on an overcast day, get up high and try excluding the sky as it is grey, washed out, boring and detraction to your subject, that magnificent whale unless there are dark storm clouds or a scene that can create a dramatic backdrop.
7 -Don’t delete
Don’t delete during your outing. Firstly, you waste precious time looking at images so you may miss that awesome shot and secondly, it wastes valuable  battery power. Ensure you have a fully formatted card and a backup and of course a fully charged battery.


The top 5 images are:
Tail slapping
The waterfall forming a fluke
Pectoral fin slapping
The blow




All images courtesy of Danielle Lancaster
Images cannot be reproduced or used in any format without written consent.



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