Whale Tale

On a recent trip to Santa Cruz, I decided to go on a whale watching tour. For those who have never been on a whale watching tour, here are some tips in general and for photography.

  1. Pop them Pills – Now, if you thought I was speaking of drugs you were correct, that is, over the counter Dimehydrinate tablets, aka, Dramamine tablets. These are essential, especially, if you get motion sick easily. Even if you do not get motion sick easily, it is better safe than sorry. Besides either you keep your food or the fish get a nice snack.
  2. Jackets – I made the horrible mistake of not wearing a jacket, for this was my first whale tour. Unless you wish to feel like a polar bear, in December, in a snow storm, on top of Mount Everest, take a jacket.
  3. Elbows – They are there for a reason. I quickly learned that the elbows were designed, not as a strategic location for a joint, but as a deadly weapon. If your tour is full; first, prepare emotionally for the battle ahead. Then be sure to elbow your way to either side of the boat. Eventually whales will end up on your side, that is, if there are even any whales on your tour.

Photography tips.

  1. Do not be scared – Yes, some will argue their camera is more important than anything in the universe; however, you made the choice of being on a rocking boat, fully surrounded by enormous mammals that out weigh you by at least 200x and you payed for the experience. If you are worried about your camera getting wet, that is the least of your problems. Remember the camera can be replaced, but if you have to choose between a life-vest and your camera, please choose the life-vest.
  2. Timing – As I said the boat will likely be rocking. Timing the shot is difficult and very irritating at first. Later you will learn to anticipate when to take the shot. For what ever reason, in Santa Cruz sea lions always seemed to know where the whales would surface. I do not know whether this is just a Santa Cruz thing or if it is common in multiple areas. So, look for sea lions, they’re psychic.
  3. Gray – If you are using auto-focus, you better pray for a sunny day. Many cameras can not distinguish between a gray sky, with gray water, and gray whales. So, the camera’s ability to sense differences in color and lighting drops to a very low level, further complicating taking photos on a rocking boat full of irritated tourists. If the sky is gray and similar conditions occur, I recommend switching to manual-focus, if you have the option. This worked for me and is one of the few times where it is was required to go to manual-focus.

IMG_0173

Aperture: f/5.6  Shutter Speed: 1/500s    For all photos shown.
IMG_0151

IMG_0140

IMG_0101

Grey Whale

Free Willy, by liking or commenting on this post!

Major Macro

Macro photography, also known as close-up photography, is an easy way to create amazing photos of subjects both large and small. Most cameras have a setting for macro photography built in, with the symbol usually looking like the symbol below.

For those wishing to abandon the, sometimes annoying decision making software in a camera, one could always go manual.

butterfly

When choosing to go manual for taking macro photos one should begin by setting the aperture to its lowest f/stop. For example, in this photo I set the camera’s aperture to f/6.3. This will give the background a nice blur. The blurred background ensures that only the subject will be visible and in focus. Arguably, the most important element in marco photography is the aperture.Flower 1

The image above was taken at an aperture of f/4.5. Notice the background is blurred throughout leaving only the flower in focus.

The image below was taken at an aperture of f/40. Notice the background is, for the most part, in focus.

IMG_0405_1135While, one image is taken at a low f/stop and the other at a high f/stop, the subject is the same. Yet, we end up with very different photos and different stories. Of course, one may take a photo in whichever way they feel like. I prefer a blurred background for most of my macro photos, but everyone is different and free to tell their story, their way.

Whether, one chooses to use a preset or go manual, a final tip for taking macro photos is to always be at your subjects height. Being at the same height as one’s subject gives a different perspective that is often seen in photos. This is especially important when taking macro photos of wildlife, for if the subject is an animal, it will feel more comfortable when one is at its height. Disclaimer: Do not try this with a bear. Instead try a squirrel. I assure you, they are much more fun.If you enjoyed this post please like or comment.