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6 Tips for Great Photos While Whale Watching


March 2, 2016

There is no end to the fun and adventure you can have in Cabo San Lucas. One of the most thrilling is a whale watching cruise. We are at the height of whale watching season right now which runs from November into April. The tip of Baja separates the Pacific Ocean from the Sea of Cortez. This conjunction is a superhighway for whale migration. Once in a awhile you may spot an Orca in the Baja peninsula, or even the largest of all mammals, the blue whale, but this area is the winter time home to grey and humpback whales. There is nothing more exciting than enjoying a day on the sapphire blue waters of the Sea of Cortez when suddenly the captain shouts, “Ballenas!” and off the bow you see mist rising as the whales blow water through their spouts and their majestic fins rise above the sea.

Grey whales are a solemn lot, having the longest migration of any mammal all the way from the Arctic Circle to the warm waters of Baja. The grey whale migration is nearly 10,000 miles round trip, so conserving energy is key. While grey whales may not be breaching, Baja is their birthing ground so there is a chance to see a calf!
Humpback whales on the other hand are very playful while enjoying the warm waters of Cabo. You will often see them breaching and tail slapping, making it the perfect opportunity to capture exquisite action shots.

Helpful Tips to Capture Exquisite Whale Photographs

Things happen quickly so you need to be constantly at the ready. Adjust your camera to ensure the fastest possible response time.
  • Get the fastest memory card available for your camera and make sure it is empty.
  • If available, set your camera to aperture priority and set it to 1/1000 or even faster if it’s a bright day and you think you can get away with it.
  • Set your camera’s ISO to at least 400.
  • Make sure your flash is turned off.
  • Getting close to the whales is nice but it would be very difficult to get a clear shot with a big 600mm lens. You’re much better off with a 55-200 zoom or similar. It’s lighter and much more versatile. Keep in mind the closest the boats are allowed to whales are 200 yards for the safety of both the whales and boat.
  • Make sure you battery is freshly charged and have a charged backup battery on hand.
As with everything practice makes perfect. Take some time before your trip to familiarize yourself with the equipment. Many point and shoots have a lag time from when you push the button to when the camera actually fires. Try to get familiar with the timing of this especially if you’re trying to capture a breaching whale. If you wait and click while the whale is at its pinnacle you’re likely to just get a shot of the splash as the whale re-enters the water.

Keep your camera up and ready and you’re sure to get some amazing shots! However, don’t forget to spend some time during your cruise without your camera up to your eye, just experiencing the beauty of the moment. One amazing memory is worth more than 100’s of good photos. Call 312-450-3191 to reach your Cabo vacation tour experts and to schedule your whale watching cruise today. When you’re there, don’t forget to watch for the dolphins that call Cabo home too!