By Allie Almario
One of the best reasons to go to the Galapagos Islands is because you really do get “up close and personal” with the wildlife. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get as close as possible to the world’s most endangered and unusual animals – like blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas and sea lions – should be remembered with photographs. Here are our top five photo tips for the best wildlife photography in the Galapagos:
Tip #1: Use the right equipment.
If you are bringing a DLSR camera, a 200 to 300 lens will be plenty for capturing the majority of wildlife you will see, many of which will be found 8-10 feet away from you. A nice portrait lens will be helpful for marine iguanas and sea lions who tend to sit fairly still. And don’t forget an inexpensive underwater camera! You might miss out on those friendly sea lions playing peek a boo with you while you’re snorkeling.
Tip #2: Don’t be afraid to get down on the ground.
That’s right, get right down to the ground and shoot from the ground. While the Galapagos National Park rules state that you must keep six feet away from the animals, that’s close enough to still get amazing photos. You’re not photographing “charismatic mega fauna” – you’ll be surrounded mostly by small reptiles, mammals and birds. From ground level, you’ll get incredible images of details such as the dinosaur-like scales of a marine iguana, the bright neon colors of a blue-footed booby’s feet or the mesmerizing indigo eyes of a flightless cormorant. Steady yourself by planting your elbows in the ground and hold your breath to stabilize your image.
Tip #3: Don’t forget to protect your gear.
Make sure you pack a small waterproof bag for all of your electronics, including your cell phone or camera. Nothing can destroy your expensive gear faster than a few drops of water, whether it’s water splashing on you while you’re on a zodiac boat speeding to shore or in the worst-case scenario, actually dropping your camera into the ocean. For larger cameras, attaching them to neck straps is a must and smaller cameras do well with wrist straps.
Tip #4: Try black and white.
The Galapagos Islands are located right on the Equator, so most travelers will be lucky to experience blue skies and aquamarine waters. But don’t forget to consider black and white images for a unique look. Most photo apps have a simple filter which can change a monochromatic or drab colorless photo to one that seems to have almost a journalistic, classic and crisp black and white look.
Tip #5: Don’t forget to back up your images and bring an extra thumb drive.
It’s only Day 3 of your trip, you’ve taken 847 photos, and you’ve run out of space on your digital camera! You did remember to bring extra memory for your camera, didn’t you? Every night, download your images to either your laptop or a thumb / flash drive with lots of storage space. You won’t feel pressured into having to delete images right away and can take your time editing your photos when you have time after return from your trip.
And of course, it doesn’t hurt to bring extra camera batteries. And maybe an extra camera!