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.

 

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