As we sailed under our big reacher towards the entrance to Twofold Bay, a pod of about 24 dolphins raced towards us to play in ADAGIO’s bow waves. I raced for the camera, and we enjoyed their company for about 15 minutes. By that time a second pod of dolphins had spotted us and came surfing through the waves at high speed to join the fun. One of my photos shows two dolphins from the first pod watching the second pod’s arrival, no doubt saying to each other, “Oh no, Gladys, here come the neighbors!”
Photographing dolphins requires a high ISO, and a “sport” or “motor drive” setting. We had our old Canon SLR set up that way – but with 300m telephoto in case we found some more breaching humpback whales. That lens was too long and we hadn’t yet unpacked our just-repaired 17-85mm lens, so we just grabbed the trusty old Canon SD800 shirt pocket camera.
The dolphins exhale while underwater then quickly surface to inhale a breath of air. That’s when you can grab a quick photo of their face. It requires quick responses and practice to anticipate when a dolphin will surface, so that your photo contains the dolphin’s face and not just a splash. I tried following one dolphin and timing the breaths, and caught some good shots, but this caused me to miss out on photos of other dolphin actions, like jumping out of the water.
We can understand the myths and legends which sailors developed around these fun sea creatures. Their lives appear to us to be carefree and exhuberant, and I hope you can see these qualities in the photos.