5 easy tips: How to get that perfect whale tail shot.

Photographers come from all different skill levels. Cameras come in all different styles. Dr.Suess could write a book about the gizmos and gadgets that fall under the title of camera equipment. No matter your skill level or brand you photograph with, we can give you some great tips! Pressure runs high with wildlife and landscape photography; be it whales or glaciers, you want to be sure you’re getting the best shots of your tours in Alaska. Follow these tips to avoid the added stress!

TIP ONE – More Power + More Space = More Opportunity. ALWAYS pack extra memory cards and extra batteries. We recommend doing this before leaving for your cruise or trip to Alaska. Double, triple, quadruple check before you leave for a big trip (you never know when an available time to purchase more might be). Then double, triple, and quadruple check again before you leave for your photography adventure. This tip starts with making a space for your photography equipment. A bag with a designated area for charging essential’s and extras would be the most convenient. AND DOUBLE CHECK YOU DIDN’T LEAVE YOUR BATTERY ON YOUR CHARGER AT HOME! Not that we’re speaking from experience…let us move on.

TIP TWO – Take Advantage of Presets. Before you set your camera, you need to ask yourself, “what is my subject?” If you know that your subject is a fast moving whale and you want to have a crisp photo, the Shutter Priority Mode or Sports Mode will be your friend. The Sports Mode is usually a small running person icon and is an Automatic setting for fast subjects. The Shutter Priority mode gives you a bit of control. In “S”(Shutter Priority) or “Tv” (Time Value) mode, you set the shutter speed on your camera and your camera will adjust itself around that to get a balanced exposure. For whale photography, I set my shutter speed to 1/1000th of a second.

TIP THREE – Take a Practice Shot. After you go through all of your settings for the upcoming shooting conditions, take a practice shot. It doesn’t have to be pretty; just a quick “click.” Its purpose is to make sure there aren’t any funky settings out of order. Is that blue sky looking green? Check your White Balance. Is your shutter slow causing a blurry picture? Check which mode you are in. Did you accidentally leave your ISO high from your star-gazing photography the night before? A practice shot will always help work out the kinks before you’re ready to get the shots that count!

TIP FOUR – Pre-Visualize. Soak in all of your surroundings: your landscape and which lens you are shooting with. Let’s say you are waiting for the whale to surface again and you think your lens “isn’t long enough” to get a captivating, close photograph. Use the wide lens you are using to incorporate the whale and the misty mountains behind the whale. The surrounding landscape will add depth and story to the wild subject you are photographing.

TIP Five – Be Patient This tip is one of the more difficult to manage. The world we live in now is fast paced and there aren’t many things in our daily lives that give us a chance to practice our patience. One reason why we love wildlife photography is because it is the most rewarding when you are patient. Along with being patient, you have to be ready while you wait. Those magic moments can happen at any time. While you’re waiting for ‘the shot,’ always have your camera on and your lens cap off – you never know when the action will strike!

And remember, the best part about creating a masterpiece through film is that it is a token of your time in Alaska. Regardless of what you manage to capture, your photographs will always help to take you back to your trip of a lifetime.

If you’re a photography enthusiast and planning a whale watching trip in Juneau this summer check out our “Whale Watching and Mendenhall Glacier Photo Safari.” Get outside, and adventure by land and sea with one of Gastineau Guiding’s Professional Photography Guides for more than a typical whale watch. We can work with you to provide different tips and techniques on how to get the most out of your photography. Take a step off the beaten path and capture the memories of the beautiful and wild Alaska.

Back to all articles