Great White Shark Photography

Started Jan 16, 2014 | Discussions thread
jkjond Veteran Member • Posts: 8,657
Re: Great White Shark Photography

Chris 88 wrote:

(this is reposted on recommendation from the Nature and Wildlife Forum)

In a few months I will be charting a boat out of Cape Town South Africa to photograph great white sharks. One of the behaviours I hope to capture is the famous breaching where the shark leaps from the sea. In order to induce this a fake seal will be dragged behind the boat.

What I would like is advise on what lens, settings, and techniques I should use with my D7100 (not yet got).

The variables are as follow. The rope with the decoy on is 10-15 meters so that is my distance to the subject. The average great white is 4-5.2m, so that will be the size of the subject. The subject will be moving as approximately 25mph and will be airborne (visible) for 1.2s.

At the moment I'm thinking the Nikon Af-S 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II Lens. That is probably the most I can push my budget. Part of me thinks if I'm going to get an FX lens I might as well get a D610 to go with it but let me know what you think.

This may sound drastic, but I'd want to use the widest lens I'm comfortable with. I'd measure out the sizes and distances you state in a car park - and research just how close is a safe working distance. Then apply a bit of Robert Capa and get in close, and pack a spare pair of undies. Anyone can shoot an object as large as a great white with a 70-200. I'm sure the results would be impressive with any lens, but wide angle can give an intimacy lost with a longer lens. If this is effectively a staged event and you have several runs at it, I'd try different lenses.

If you aren't used to shooting action, then get practising. Don't squander a shoot like this by trying to learn on the job. Shooting traffic could be effective practice and give you confidence in zoom and focus, plus a chance to experiment with lenses. A range rover or vw camper is about 5m long and a touring motorbike will be a similar front on size to a shark. Roundabouts will give you changes of direction, especially entry and exit for a motorbike. DOF will be a factor for front on shots, you need to get a feel for what aperture to use.

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Wedding and fine art photographer based in the Lake District, UK

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