One of the nice things about taking a dolphin watching boat trip is the opportunity to photograph them in their natural habitat, but there are a few challenges that you need to know about. Like with any photographic expedition, you need to have the right angle, and right conditions to really get that great shot that you can enjoy for many years to come.
Unlike humans, you cannot guide dolphins into posing positions, instead you have to wait for the right moment and patiently wait that they approach your boat.
Don’t rush and don’t be impatient. Photography is just like fishing, it demands patience and perseverance, not to mention that you must be prepared for a few watering experiences.
Being on a boat, you will need to brace yourself and your camera equipment at all times. The motion of the boat, as well as the speed at which dolphins can travel, will require that you make use of a high speed shutter on your camera. An ASA/ISO 100 or 200 film will assist you in reducing the graininess that will result from an higher shutter setting. A lens filter will help to reduce glare, and a motor drive is extremely helpful when the dolphins are extremely active. A telephoto lens is a pre-requirement, due to the fact that it is difficult to get very close to any dolphins in the sea from a boat.
The best type of camera for this type of photography is a Single Lens Reflex (SRL) and there are many brands around that are suitable. It just depends on your budget, so just shop around. If you are patient and focus on getting a really good picture, you could use a wide-angle lens, the resulting photograph will make the subject in the foreground appear disproportionately larger than the background. This technique can produce amazing photos.
Changing angles on the dolphin can also add personality to your images. A picture of the dolphin in a side profile as well as one that captures the entire length of the creature can create an interesting collage of finished photographs.
When photographing dolphins, the use of a light meter is essential. Dolphins usually swim close to the surface, which will require accurate settings of surrounding light conditions. The use of a strobe as fill lighting will also bring contrast to the dolphin’s features.
But if you end-up having your breath taken away by the beauty of the moment, if nothing else simply enjoy snapping away with no thought to the actual composition of the photograph, and join the multitude of people that just live in the moment.
Regardless of what happens while you are dolphin watching, using a few of the above techniques should guarantee an interesting array of photographs.