One of the highlights of any Galapagos Islands cruise or land-based Galapagos trip is the chance to photograph the weird and wonderful animals and landscapes of this unique environment. With the wildlife unafraid of people, and very close to the trails, it is possible for even the most inexperienced photographer to get some lovely shots. Here we will look at everything you need to know about Galapagos photography, including some helpful photography tips for Galapagos, and importantly, what to bring.
The good news is that anyone can take a great photograph in the Galapagos Islands. The wildlife is so close that even with the most mediocre zoom, you are likely to be able to get at least a few superb photographs. It is also worth noting that Galapagos photography does not have to be all that expensive. A basic point and shoot camera may get you some excellent pictures, and these days mobile phone cameras are also superb in some cases. This means that photography in the Galapagos does not necessarily mean lugging around lots of camera equipment. On the other hand, if you are a serious photographer (amateur or professional) you will definitely want to bring your good kit with you to get the best pictures.
If you really want to focus on photography in the Galapagos above all else, then one good option for you might be to take a cruise that focuses specifically on Galapagos photography. This way you won’t be getting on everyone’s nerves when you are holding the group up trying to get that perfect shot, because everyone else will be doing exactly the same!
If you’re going to the Galapagos with the express intent of photographing the island and the wildlife you will certainly want to have the right equipment with you. In the first place, you won’t want to forget your camera. Critically you will want to bring extra memory cards and batteries, as you do not want to miss that perfect shot.
When photographing the wildlife on the Galapagos Islands you will need to have respect and not get too close to the creatures. A lens that has a focal length of 200- 400mm should be sufficient in most cases, despite this important rule.
It is important to consider bringing dry bags with you, or at the very least waterproof bags. Some of your island visits will include wet landings, so dry bags are helpful to ensure that your camera equipment does not get damaged. Meanwhile, for getting that perfect underwater shot, a Go-Pro may be very well worth the investment.
When photographing Galapagos wildlife, pay attention to the lighting. The midday light in this tropical environment may very well put an end to your shot, so try to look for shots where the lighting works. In most cases, pointing your camera at an animal when the sun is in front of you will not lead to a great shot. Consider the background to your picture, and how to get your picture to tell a story to ensure you get the best shots. Also, try out different settings to find what works the best with the light and background. However, please note that you are not allowed to use a flash when photographing Galapagos wildlife.
As mentioned earlier, it is important to note that there are rules that must be followed about getting too close to the Galapagos wildlife. These are put in place mostly from a conservation perspective. Galapagos animals will not be afraid of you, but that does not mean you can simply walk right up and point a camera in their face. However, in the case of sea lions, there is also a safety element here too. Do what your guide tells you at all time. If you are not sure, then a good rule of thumb is to keep a two meter distance from the creatures.
While the animals and birds are very well photographed in the Galapagos Islands, one of our Insiders tips is to make sure you do not forget to take pictures of the remarkable scenery. Each of the islands is quite unique in terms of what it looks like, and you’ll want to make sure you have pictures of all the different colors and views. We also strongly recommend bringing a Go-Pro or other underwater camera if you can, as this is the best way to make sure you have pictures under the water’s surface as well as on top and on the land.
Ecuador and Galapagos Insiders can help you organize your Galapagos cruise or land based option so you can enjoy photography in the Galapagos. Get in touch to see how we can help you.