Moby Dick

Discussion in 'Scenic, Architecture, and Travel' started by chalkdust, Jun 26, 2016.

  1. chalkdust

    chalkdust TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Sep 25, 2015
    Bert Cheney
    Our Alaska cruise included a stop at Icy Strait Point about half a mile from Hoonah, AK. We booked an excursion on a small boat (6 passenger) for whale watching. I had high hopes of some great what tail pictures from my 70-200mm f/4 Sony G lens. Alas, my images are not in good focus. I believe the following accounts for the sub-standard image quality:

    1. Primarily, the problem is my own skill level. I used autofocus because I did not think I would have time to manually focus. Perhaps that was a mistake.
    2. Wavelets on the sea, when seen from only a few feet above the sea are primarily horizontal line segments with contrast decreasing with distance.
    3. The auto focus algorithm prefers vertical contrast lines and prioritizes on near focus.
    4. The basic whale action is a) spout ( kind of foggy jet of air it exhales near the surface), b) slight hump of back, c) a second or two later the tail flip if it is diving. I tend to focus on the slight hump so I can catch the tail flip. Sometimes they breach, jumping high in the air, a rare and wonderful sight!
    5. The slight hump is mostly horizontal and, to a camera, not much different from sea wavelets.
    6. Whales do not always dive. It think it is tiring for them. So hours can be spent watching whales do only a spout and slight hump.
    7. Small boats are not very stable. Merely keeping the lens fairly steady on the distant whale is not easy.
    8. Small boats should not get TOO close to whales for a number of safety reasons for both the boat passengers and the whale.

    The consequence of all of this is images focused better on wavelets in front of the whale and the tail image in soft focus behind. Anyone wanting good whale tail pictures needs to do a better job than I did at overcoming the difficulties listed above.

    Anyway, the following are the best captures of mine:

    A7ii + Sony 70-200mm f/4 G

    My wife used her A6000 and her 55-210 zoom and caught some nice images herself:
    DSC00778D.jpg DSC00865D.jpg DSC00901D.jpg
    • Like Like x 10
    • Informative Informative x 1
  2. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    That first one is excellent though ;)

    Curious to hear what settings you used. AF-S or AF-C?
  3. chalkdust

    chalkdust TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Sep 25, 2015
    Bert Cheney
    Thanks, Nick. I think I used AF-C that day (I do not see any indication in exif). I normally use AF-S. I think if I could do it again, I would try manual focus next time. However, Alaska cruises are rare for me so these shots will need to be "good enough." :)
    • Informative Informative x 1
  4. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    They'd certainly be "good enough" for me, Bert. And I agree with Nick. That first one is a winner!
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  5. WNG

    WNG TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 12, 2014
    Arrid Zone-A, USA
    I like #1 as well. Under the circumstances, I think these are quite good. I would try spot focus and DMF if it still seems out of focus.
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  6. fractal

    fractal TalkEmount Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 17, 2014
    Southeastern PA
    Very nice!
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  7. riskinstrument

    riskinstrument TalkEmount Regular

    Nov 20, 2014
    Dallas, Texas.
    Well done.
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  8. SpaceManSpiff

    SpaceManSpiff TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Dec 13, 2013
    Tucson, AZ
    Wow! :thumbup: I would love to see a whale breach like that (let alone have the presence of mind to try to get a picture too)!
    Also, interesting comparison between the two cameras and lenses.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.