Videotape Whales Like A Professional
By A. Daniel Knaub
you have decided to go whale watching and plan to record it all
on videotape in order to share your experience with friends and
family at home. Here are some useful tips for recording whale
behaviors and other sights out on the water.
a fully charged battery and a spare if you have one. Take
an extra tape too.
camcorder does not like water, much less salt water. Stay
on the upper deck to record your trip if there is any chance
of water spraying onto the boat.
If you like scenery of the harbor, get a little on the way
out, but save your tape and battery for the whales. You don't
want to make a tape or battery change when a whale comes up
to the boat to take a look at you! You'll see the same harbor
on the way back to the pier.
is a symbol in your monitor that shows you are recording or
not recording. Check this every time you press the record
button, both on and off. Nothing is more upsetting than finding
out that you put your camcorder in the bag and it was still
recording. Then you take it out, point it at a whale and press
the record button. Guess what, you just stopped recording.
Keep this cycle up and you will have a great memory of the
inside of your camera bag.
a whale is close to the boat and exhales and the wind direction
moves the blow towards you, don't let it hit your lens. Put
the camera under your arm, in your coat or at least point
it down towards the deck. If this water and mucus gets on
your lens, you will spend the rest of the trip trying to clean
most pressing problem is using the zoom. The rule of thumb
is to use as much as you can while easily keeping the horizon
at the same place in your monitor. [During the shooting of
a professional whale watch video, the company's] best videographer
limited the zoom to four times. The amount of zoom usually
shows as 1X, 2X
.3X in the monitor. When showing your
"Great Whale Expedition" at home you and your guests
will appreciate a steady picture rather than seeing the sky,
a whale, your feet and something else you can't quite make
more than one large whale is close to the boat, move the camera
slowly from whale to whale. If you are lucky enough to have
an active whale, keep recording it. The other whale isn't
going to quickly disappear.
whales are a special treat, especially the humpbacks on Stellwagen
Bank. They blow bubbles; they hit their tails on the water
and sometimes come up with their mouths wide open. Start recording
when you see the bubble cloud forming and make sure you can
see both sides of the cloud in the monitor. Keep recording
the cloud (it may take a full minute) until the whale comes
up through the cloud with a mouthful of fish. If you wait
to record the scene when you see the open mouth, you will
miss a lot.
say that a breaching humpback whale is the most exciting event
in the animal kingdom. Marine biologists say that one in 15-20
trips witness this truly outstanding event. If you see a whale
breach, it is likely to breach more than once. If you want
to capture the next breach, do the following: go to the widest
angle possible, start recording and keep recording in the
direction of the first breach. Some whales may breach 15 to
20 times (more than a hundred is the record). You have to
keep recording to capture them, as the whale is only up in
the air for a second or two.
best advice however is to put the camera down for a little while
(or give it to another member of your party) during each behavior
and witness these amazing animals through your eyes and heart,
not a lens.
Knaub is the owner/president of The Whale Video Company (www.whalevideo.com).
He and his staff have recorded more than 17,000 whale watching
trips on Stellwagen Bank, including more than 5,000 breaches