Gold Coast Whale Watching Camera Settings.
After many seasons of photographing majestic Humpbacks on Gold Coast Whales Watching tours I find myself using very similar settings each trip on my Nikon D700 DSLR. When it comes to which lens to choose it must be at least a 200mm, 300 or 400 mm can help even more as long as the ocean is calm the day you are out there. Maritime law tells us we must stay at least 100 meters away from the whales at all times where possible so this is why we need a telephoto lens.
The main issue I have found is to achieve a sharp image. The problem we have is a moving boat, a fast moving and often unpredictable subject as well as our own hand movement whilst aboard a vessel in motion. To counter act this I use a minimum shutter speed of 1/800, if the light allows I will go as high as possible sometimes using 1/2000.
Now to achieve this shutter speed and still have some depth of field I must increase my ISO to around 500. This will often give me an image which has the right amount of depth of field and a subject which is in focus. The image below is a crop of a larger image and the setting are below. This day the ocean was calm and the whale slow moving.
This next image is soft on focus. This is a fast moving subject and a fast moving camera to capture the animal in frame as well as a moving platform on which I am standing.. There are a few differences but the major difference is the shutter speed. 1/2000th above and 1/500 below.
I will continue this subject next week, for now the best settings for ISO and shutter speed
ISO min 500
Shutter speed min 1/800th (higher is better if you have a bright day or you are happy to up your ISO further.)
I will talk about polarising filters and focus point selection next week.
Happy Whale Watching on the Gold Coast