Sometimes, your lens is too short

We’ve probably all been there before – you think you’re prepared for what you’re going to be shooting, and then reality decides to toss you a curve – and, sometimes, your lens is too short.

It seems that when this happens, it simply doesn’t matter which lens you have with you.  I’ve had this happen on days when I’ve had a 500mm lens and a 2X teleconverter with me.  It’s just the way things go sometimes.

In this case, I was on the north shore of Kauai, and there was what we think was a juvenile Humpback heading east and breaching several times.  Why, we’ll never know – but you can learn more about humpbacks breaching here.  Those of us that were there would prefer to believe that this was happy breaching on a beautiful day.

So, while us humans were there taking in the spectacle, jaws agape, I decided to pick up my camera a snag a shot.  And I did.  With an 18-270mm fully zoomed out.  Which was fine for the scenic images that I had planned to be shooting.  To say that the lens was grossly inadequate for breaching whales is a minor understatement.

Without cropping, the whale looked like a black dot on a blue rippled background.  So I cropped the image.  A lot.  Just to prove that I got a shot.  Notice I did not say “THE” shot, I said “a” (note the lower case) shot.

Is it a killer shot that’s going to grace my wall?  Nope, not even close.

Is it going to be my conversation-inspiring screensaver on my computer or phone?  Nope, not even that good.

So, why did I keep it?

Easy answer.

Because sometimes, it’s not about THE shot, or the quality of a shot that matters.

Sometimes, all that matters is that you got A shot that makes you smile and think back to what was happening at that moment in time.

And, sometimes, that’s all that really matters.

Sometimes, your lens is too short. A Pacific Humpback whale breeches near Kilauea Point. Kauai, HI.

Sometimes, your lens is too short. A Pacific Humpback whale breeches near Kilauea Point. Kauai, HI.

You can check out more whale shots here on Laughing Frog Images.

Thanks for looking!

The Gray Whales of Long Beach

People have a lot of different perceptions of California, some are nice, some aren’t – and we’re not going to discuss or debate them here.

Among the many perceptions, one thing that usually isn’t in the mix is that it is a place where you can watch whales, and do so pretty easily at that.

Mr. and Mrs. Frog and some friends took an afternoon whale watch cruise from Long Beach Harbor on Harbor Breeze Cruises, and had a great time.

We followed (from a safe distance) a pair of Gray Whales on their journey back north, and came away with some images that can be shared on Laughing Frog Images.

I shot well over 150 images, and between the rolling of the boat, the waves, and the whales (who apparently aren’t worried about telepathic directions and request from photographers), probably a third of them were deemed worth showing.  Of that group, 19 are posted in the Whales Gallery.

Gray Whales, Long Beach CA

The images were taken with a Tamron 18-270mm VR lens on my Nikon D-90 at ISO 400, shutter speeds were generally 1/1000 second or higher.

So, you want to go photograph whales?

Here’s my two cents:

  • be patient, and remember that the whales are moving along at their own pace and on their own schedule – you might have a great day, and you might not…
  • make sure you have a lot of room on your memory card,
  • take the longest lens you have,
  • shoot with a medium ISO (200-400 or so), and,
  • if you can, set your shutter speed manually so that it is ideally 1/1000 or higher to compensate for all of the movement and things that you can’t control
  • if your schedule permits, avoid mid-day cruises – that’s when the lighting is direct and harsh, and much of the water detail will merely be shades of gray.  Go for early morning or late afternoon.
  • shoot a lot – because you’re not going to have a 100% success rate
  • don’t rely on the monitor on your camera to determine what’s a good shot and what’s a bad shot – wait until you can see the images on your computer before you make those decisions.