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A Whale of a tale ... in Moreton Bay

MalD MalD 401 posts

I’m just wondering if this has happened to anyone else. Where you go somewhere expecting one thing and come away with something completely different. Well here is mine from the weekend just gone…..
My lovely wife surprises me on Saturday night… Sweetheart I have the perfect birthday present.. Tomorrow we are going Whale watching !! Fantastic !!. Something I have wanted to do for a long, long time.
My immediate reaction subsides, to be replaced with a sense of uncertainty and just a little panic as the photographer in me takes over. Starting with Oh god ! what do I need ? And it went from camera and lens to … do they have 240 V on the boat ?
This is a once in lifetime thing (it wasn’t really but thats where my brain was) and then it just got silly.
2 cameras (heaven knows why…. Oh I know, just in case… right ?) 4 lenses (Normal, Long Zoom, wide angle and just in case I wanted to get reeeeally close a 2X Teleconverter) , a laptop (cause I don’t know why I had to check them there and then) , the chargers for both camera and laptop, going near water then I need the cleaning gear, every memory card in the place (even the 128 meg one, I can get 5 shots on that in raw). Damn I haven’t done any high speed shooting how fast and how many can I do ? How long does the battery last.. Oh that’s right I’m taking the charger ! Oh crap .. what filters work best ? just take them all ! What about a tripod ?

And my ever patient, loving wife is sitting, smiling and watching her normally sane husband become a gibbering wreck.

After about an hour, sanity returned and I remember the advise my wife offered me a few weeks earlier. "Well, you’re the photographer.. work it out ! ". And she way so right.. Work it out, break it down.

What are doing ? ans— Photographing whales..
Where ? ans— On a packed, windy, rocking boat in the middle of the ocean..
When ? tomorrow starting 10 am..

Slowly, the realization appears … Wild animals … children … a boat packed with tourists (me included ! ) and a limited time frame. I am not going to have the luxury of asking the captain to go round again nor asking the whales to jump and perform on demand. Nor can I control the jostling crowds all wanting an award winning shot with a little ‘point an shoot’ – you know the ones that take a couple of seconds to focus and issue the recording of a shutter sound from the speaker in the front…. So… what can I control… well with a bit of planning the light ! So where did I end up and why ?

Ok my thought pattern was,
1. got to get close as this is going to be a rare event so the choice of lens was obvious – zoom 70 -300 mm
2. Water and sun lots and lots of light and reflections, no grads here – Circular Polarizer
3. Preset the camera – The K20 has a user selection where you can store your selections for later use so the following are my settings for this epic making , Sir David Attenborough inspired natural history event
A. Long lens therefore 1/350 sec
B. Still wanted the best quality therefore ISO 100
C. DOF wasn’t really an issue, besides low ISO and fast shutter meant f/5.6
D. Full segment metering to allow for the best possible overall exposure. And finally
E. To compensate for the abundance of light EV of +0.5.

I did take as many memory cards as I could and a little net book as it did have a 160 GIG Hard drive just in case. But nothing else !

So, the morning arrived and to the boat we drove. Boarded said boat. Out we went … into the wilds of the Pacific Ocean into the domain of these leviathans.. And….

Expecting the scenes seen on TV of whales waving, splashing and jumping out of the water and we waited and patiently waited.. had a lovely lunch and ….waited some more.. Oh there were some wonderful encounters of fins and tails two big splashes that everyone heard but no one saw. The professionals on board clicking an whirring away 1000’s of rapid shots of water and tails and fins !! They were having fun and everyone else wondering what they were actually taking photographs of ?? But, they were having fun, I think

So in the end … Did I come away with an award winning, once in a lifetime image ? No ! So what did I get you my ask.

A huge boost in self confidence, that my Photographic decision making is getting better. Also that when trying to capture images of wild animals, patience is NOT a virtue …… it is Essential ! This has made me a better photographer, at least internally. Now all I need is to practice more and procrastinate less !!

I hope you can relate to my tale ? Here is one just in case …

John Vriesekolk John Vriesekolk 1195 posts

Great story Mal. At least you got the tail. may be something for the Australian Travel Photography and Writing Group

thatkellychic thatkellychic 20 posts

haha. great story! glad you came home with some good pics though. ;-)

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