Whale watching in Newfoundland can be an awe-inspiring adventure and, for some travellers, the cherry on top is a postcard perfect souvenir photo. Photographing whales comes with a unique set of challenges. Between being on a moving vessel and the unpredictable nature of wild animals, it can be difficult to get just the right shot. With preparation and patience you’ll increase your chance of leaving Trinity with a shot to make your Facebook friends jealous.
Before you can get that next National Geographic shot, you need to make sure you’re comfortable. You don’t want to be thinking about the elements while Finnegan is putting on a show. Our flotation suits ensure you stay warm and dry on the zodiac. Apply sunscreen before your trip so that you’re not thinking about the sun. If you’re prone to motion sickness, take precautions before you leave land.
Choose the Right Gear
The night before your trip, do a double check of your batteries and memory card free space. There’s nothing worse than getting set up for the perfect whale photo only to discover you don’t have room on the card or to have your camera turn off. If you have one, put an extra battery in your kit. As for your memory card, choose one with a fast write speed as you may want to set your camera to burst mode to get the full range of a breaching whale and a slow memory card can bog you down.
If your camera has a neck strap, use it. While travelling in the zodiac, the safest place for your camera is around your neck, tucked into your flotation suit.
You can leave your tripod at home, as it’s impractical in our zodiacs and wouldn’t offer much assistance anyway on a floating vessel.
Do pack your zoom lens. In Canada, we need to maintain a minimum 100m distance from whales so a good zoom will help you get a close-up shot.
Get to know your camera settings before setting off in our zodiac. If you have a simpler point and shoot, we recommend switching it to ‘sports’ or ‘action’ mode and turning off your flash.
If you’ve got more control, but aren’t completely comfortable in manual, try using shutter priority mode instead and starting around the 1/1000s mark. You want your shutter to be fast enough to freeze the motion of a travelling whale. There’s no one perfect setting though so you may need to adjust as you go, depending on the weather and light. The more photos you take, the better your chances of ending up with a prize photo.
No matter how prepared you are, you need to pack your patience because wild animals are unpredictable. Our best advice is to keep your camera ready and always be scanning the water. Also, if you see a whale dive, don’t keep your eyes on that spot since they’ll likely surface again somewhere else.
Be prepared. Be patient. And if you don’t get that perfect shot you can always just enjoy the experience of being out on our zodiacs, seeing whales and other marine life with your own eyes. And remember, you can always try again next time!
If you’ve caught any amazing photos while out on one of our tours be sure to post it to social media and tag us. We’d love to see them.