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Whale watching cruise

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by gingergirl, Aug 27, 2014.

  1. gingergirl

    gingergirl Mu-43 Regular

    81
    Apr 15, 2014
    This weekend I am going on a whale watching cruise. This is my first time and I am beyond excited! Of course I want to bring along my E-M1 and take many many photos, but I'm looking for suggestions on which lens to use and any tips on settings or technique would also be appreciated.

    Forecast is sun with cloudy periods.

    I have the Panasonic 35-100 f/2.8. I love this lens. It'll give me the required shutter speed but will it have enough reach?

    I also have the Olympus 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II. Slower lens, not as sharp as the Pany but has more reach. If it's a cloudy day, I don't even think I will consider this lens as it really needs light to perform well.

    If it's a bright day and I can get the shutter speeds that I want, should I use a polarizer?

    I expect to see the whales at different distances and at times they do get close to the boat. Very much hoping for the holy grail breach shot but I'll take anything! lol
     
  2. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    I did a whale watching cruise a couple of years ago. I mostly used my Nikon D7000 and 70-300 lens for the reach. I had an E-M5 and 40-150, and it wasn't long enough. The 75-300 is the lens to take. The only thing a polarizer will do is cut down the amount of light by a couple of stops: leave it home.
     
  3. gingergirl

    gingergirl Mu-43 Regular

    81
    Apr 15, 2014
    Thanks to both of you for the tips.

    I'll start with the 75-300 and keep the other lens (and polarizer) in my bag. Forecast is still sunny for Saturday and they've been seeing quite a few whales around recently. I'm just thrilled to be going and if I get some keeper photos, it's a bonus. There are some nice lighthouses and hiking trails on the island as well so I'll have some additional photo ops.
     
  4. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    Remember to set to S.IS Auto (panning motion) for stabilization when you're on the boat since you'll be drifting with the ocean currents cause of the waves. Another suggestion I would like to make is if you're close enough is to use the Panny 35-100 and engage the 2x digital teleconverter option. That gives you an effective 70-200mm f/2.8 lens and the quality of the 4MP interpolation to give you a 2x image @ 16MP; which while isn't as long as the 300mm is able to give you the faster shutter speeds by using lower ISO. Your IBIS will be compensating for the waves motion, so you need a way to keep ISO as low as possible so you get good dynamic range. Good dynamic range allows you to post your photos later because of the reflection from the water which can blow out some highlights.
     
  5. LeftyRodriguez

    LeftyRodriguez Mu-43 Rookie

    23
    Aug 13, 2014
    Dallas
    Concur with taking the 75-300. I went whale watching in Alaska last year with a 100-400 on a Canon 60D and was thankful for the 600mm effective focal length, and even then, it wasn't enough in some cases.
     
  6. gingergirl

    gingergirl Mu-43 Regular

    81
    Apr 15, 2014
    I have not yet tried the 2x digital teleconverter. How is the image quality? I don't plan on making posters but I would look some nice photos.
     
  7. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    David
    The converter is not bad. I'd set one of the function buttons to it so you go back and forth quickly. Brace yourself whenever possible, you're on a moving plate shooting a moving target at as much as 600mm eq.

    I did a whale watch several years ago, also with a Nikon DX body. But I had a 80-400 lens, so also 600mm eq. I never felt like I had too much lens.
     
  8. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Keep your FPS rate reasonably high, and pay attention. Good shots will appear suddenly, usually only last for a couple of seconds, and you will have almost no warning. Meter manually (and take afew readings in advance) or adjust your compensation so the images are exposed for the whales.

    enjoy,

    --Ken
     
  9. riverr02

    riverr02 Mu-43 Veteran

    258
    May 2, 2011
    New York
    Rafael
    Currently in Alaska on a cruise and I used the EM1 with the 75-300 to photograph and video whales on a cloudy day. Worked great.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    Been on quite a few whale/dolphin cruises myself. Didn't have m43 gear then, had APS-C cams and the 55-200mm were decent as far as focal length goes....but there were times when having more reach would have been great. Take the 75-300 just in case, but you should be able to get the majority of your shots with the 35-100.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    got these with OMD and the 75

    8508277176_87b8814dd8_b. P2240039 by kevinparis, on Flickr

    8508277452_fd3c75c3f5_b. P2240048 by kevinparis, on Flickr

    the first one was pic of the day on Get Olympus Facebook page

    We were in smallish 20 seater boats in Maui.. and it took 5 trips to get just a few shots.... they are tricky beggars.

    I also recommend sometimes just putting the camera down and admiring these magnificent creatures with your own eyes... they are like nothing you will ever have seen before... if you think an elephant is big....think again :)

    enjoy the trip

    K
     
    • Like Like x 6
  12. BeyondTheLines

    BeyondTheLines Mu-43 Veteran

    262
    Sep 23, 2012
    Spain/USA
    Patrick
    There´s a photographer on one of the other sites I frequent who spends a lot of time photographing whales. Here´s a link with some excellent examples and here´s what he says about his settings in another thread (i think settings are for APS crop sensor):

    ¨I have spent a lot of time trying to work out the best settings for whale shots. When they breach the risk is huge blow out because the whale and sea is likely to be dark but the water/splash can be intense white and very reflective.. So its all a balancing act.

    But actually White Balance is the easiest AWB covers it all

    And the rest of my settings are:

    Shutter priority at least 1250 but better 1650
    ISO 400 (You don't notice any noise with all the splash and a small touch of noise reduction fixes without noticeable loss of detail)
    Exposure compensation - 3 thirds of a stop on a bright or high light cloud day but 2 thirds of a stop on duller days.
    In really bright conditions this give an aperture of around 10 up to 13 depending on focal length.¨


    Hope that helps some
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. gingergirl

    gingergirl Mu-43 Regular

    81
    Apr 15, 2014
    Holy....thanks for all the great info!!!!!!!!! I normally shoot RAW, but would JPEG be better for this type of shooting? Also wondering about continuous focus or single.
     
  14. gingergirl

    gingergirl Mu-43 Regular

    81
    Apr 15, 2014
    Great photos! And yes, I agree. I don't want to be glued to the viewfinder of my camera during the entire trip. I expect I will be in awe of these magnificent beasts.
     
  15. gingergirl

    gingergirl Mu-43 Regular

    81
    Apr 15, 2014
    What ISO were you at?
     
  16. tornado

    tornado Mu-43 Veteran

    270
    Nov 6, 2012
    STICK TO RAW!!! Jpeg will limit you if you need to tweak exp. & sharpening (due to all the motion). Manual Exp mode may be the best idea, assuming you can dial in the right exp for the whales beforehand. Otherwise the meter will likely be fooled by very dark water or bright sky. Need to try some test shoots on passing boats (usually white) against the dark water & sky.
    Use your high speed mode, but maybe not at full 9 FPS, esp. if you've got limited SD card capacity. Spare batteries. Monopod may be a good idea on the boat...better stability and still quick to re-position. I'd also suggest trying manual focus or focus locking when expecting the action to be in a set location...don't want to miss decisive moments while the AF is looking at a something else...

    Don't forget your movie mode!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. tornado

    tornado Mu-43 Veteran

    270
    Nov 6, 2012
    Oh, if you are concerned with seasickness...keep eyes on horizon, not looking at your boat or the people you are with. Try to face the direction the boat is moving forward. Do not go below deck...that's the killer! The more horizon you have in your visual field the better.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. LovinTheEP2

    LovinTheEP2 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    619
    Feb 15, 2011
    Toronto
    You can always crop or use the electronic zoom incamera which is decent for any shots that you need more reach.

    That said, don't try and get every shot and make sure to enjoy it. When I was in NZ, trying to get shots of penguins was tough in the rain and once I put cam down and just took in the moment was soooo much better. I'd suggest keeping the cam in a mode, f8 auto iso and rapid fire and maybe even auto bracketing in case you want some ettr shots to pull back later in pp.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  19. gingergirl

    gingergirl Mu-43 Regular

    81
    Apr 15, 2014
    We went on our cruise yesterday. It was amazing. What a wonderful experience! Saw lots of whales and took lots of photos. We were so close, some right by the boat! I had to ditch the 75-300 as it was too long. Still on the road so haven't had a great look at the photos yet but I'm sure there are some keepers. No full breaches but one was curious and stuck his head up to have a look at us. And the smell when they blow. Disgusting! LOL.