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How to take amazing photos on your whale watching tour

Photographer taking pictures of Killer Whales



A boat is not the easiest place to snap a great picture of Vancouver’s wildlife. Not only are the whales constantly moving, you are too. The pressure to get the perfect picture can be a little overwhelming but if you follow our top tips you’ll be sure to get some amazing photos.

Protect your equipment

Cameras and water don’t mix. Have a plastic bag to keep your gear in and prevent it being damaged during your tour. This applies whether you’re using your smartphone camera or a top quality digital camera – you don’t want to get it water damaged so have a waterproof case or a plastic bag to keep it safe.

Set your camera for speed

Shutters speed is key to getting that perfect photo. If you have an SLR camera use shutter-priority mode and if you’ve got a point and shoot set it to action mode. For SLRs you want a shutter speed of around 1/1000 – these animals move quickly and to catch the action your camera has to be fast. Whatever camera you are using make sure to get a fast processing memory card, you don’t want to miss the perfect shot whilst your camera is busy trying to catch up processing the last few pics you snapped.

You don’t need a flashy camera

Point and shoot, smartphone and tablet cameras have come a long way in the past few years. You no longer need a top of the range camera with a fancy lens to get great photos. The constant movement of both the whales and the boat means you need a fast shutter speed and many smartphone or point and shoot cameras have this. If you don’t already have a top of the range camera, you don’t need to invest in one just for your whale watching tour.

Be prepared

You don’t want to get on the boat and end up being that guy who’s phone or camera battery dies. Remember to charge everything the night before. If you have a camera with interchangeable lenses think about what lens you are going to bring – do some research into which of your lenses will work best for shooting whales.

Remember you are going to be on a boat. If you are a person who gets motion sickness be prepared for that. Take medication or any other method you use to treat it. Looking through a camera lens can often make motion sickness worse so if you start to feel unwell, take a step back and have a breather.

Listen to your Captain

You’re visiting the whales in their natural habitat and your Captain has been out on the Vancouver coastline many times before. Respect the Captains decisions, they have studied whales for many years and know their patterns of behaviour. If your Captain makes a decision trust that they know what they are doing.

Don’t use a tripod

Using a tripod can mean you get increased shutter speed without getting camera shake or blurry photos. This applies when you are on stable ground. The boat you will be on for your whale watching tour will be constantly rocking and this will make your tripod useless. Whatever camera you bring to get the best photos always go handheld.

Patience is a virtue

We are going out to see wild animals, they can be quite unpredictable so be patient. They are not going to appear just when you want them to, so keep your camera at the ready and be prepared to shoot at any moment.

Take a breath

It’s easy for any of us to get absorbed in taking that perfect Instagram shot to make our friends jealous. Don’t let that mean you forget why you’re there – to see the whales! Put your camera down and enjoy the moment. It’s a truly a spectacular sight getting to see the beautiful wildlife off the Vancouver coast and a memory that will stay with you forever. You don’t want that memory to be seen only through a camera lens.

Whale watching in Vancouver is an awe-inspiring adventure and a must-do activity whilst you’re in the area. It is a wondrous experience seeing these creatures in their world. Whilst the cherry on top of your experience is to get a perfect picture to take home as a souvenir, don’t let that be the focus of your trip. Seeing these animals with your own eyes can be just as enjoyable as getting the perfect photo.

If you’ve taken any amazing photos whilst on our tours post them below or on social media and tag us so we can see!

Be sure to follow us in the social world on Facebook or Instagram to keep connected and current on any special events or offers coming up.

See you out on the water!

Jesse Finkle